Civil Society and Europeanization

In its most explicit form, Europeanization is conceptualized as the process of adopting and internalizing European Union directives, regulations and institutional structures at the domestic level. The concept of Europeanization became increasingly relevant after the collapse of European empires at the end of World War I, where successor states were transitioning to a more democratic regime along with complementing Western-style laws. In addition to this, civil society’s role in shaping Europe received greater recognition through the Lisbon Treaty of the European Union where the Treaty was inspired by a deeply felt need for a stronger voice and influence for citizens.

As noted by scholars, the degree of Europeanization depends on the general commitment of the government to European integration and the national importance given to decision-making in accordance with the European Union. The European Union at present acts as the primary agent of Europeanization in modern day Europe. The supranational body also gives great importance to civil society and recognises the contributions it makes to Europeanization. Candidate countries wishing to accede to the European Union are expected of to adopt the Acquis Communataire of the body and their efforts are also aided by the European Economic and Social Committee with every aspirant country having its own joint consultative committee for civil society being set up at the domestic level. Despite this being an additional step apart from accession negotiation chapters used to integrate candidate countries into the values of the European Union, it nonetheless stresses the importance of the relationship shared between civil society and Europeanization and the resultant effect on the candidate countries’ eventual accession to the European Union. Hence, the significance of civil society as the ‘third’ sector is being recognised by the European Union in its efforts to promote Europeanization.

IPEBP notes that this is interestingly and uniquely the expectation that is held towards aspirant countries of the European Union since Europeanization is an Europe-wide phenomenon originating from Western Europe but still has yet to successfully spread out its full effects on the entire region. With regards to candidate countries of the European Union, the process of Europeanization begins well before the actual accession process where these countries are expected to in a sense, conform largely in the realm of policies, to the European standards held in the European Union and the rest of Western Europe.

 

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