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With democracy declining and becoming sporadically illiberal and populist in Europe and elsewhere, the questions of democratic transformation gain new resonance and topicality. Within the European Union and its neighbourhoods, the results of long-pursued Europeanisation are being reconsidered against the new criteria of democratic transition resilience, as well as against the new realities of emerging de-democratisation and de-Europeanisation undercurrents – and the re-emerging split of Europe. The thirtieth anniversary of the Central and Eastern European countries’ democratic transition and ‘return to EUrope’ provides a good opportunity to reassess successes and shortcomings of their transformation trajectories. Rather than engaging in a metrical exercise of measuring the quality of democracy in each EU member state, this article approaches the puzzle of East-Central European states’ transition resilience from an interdisciplinary law and politics perspective on the respective countries’ transition to EU ‘member-statehood’ and ‘neighbour-statehood’ as distinct types of statehood. In so doing, it develops an account of European Union ‘member state-building’ and ‘neighbour state-building’ as an inherent part of the respective countries’ simultaneous transformation, European integration, and state-building agendas. Drawing on the democratisation, Europeanisation and state-building literatures, as well as a wealth of primary sources, this article bridges the discussion of the differentiated EU-induced and EU-centric transition trajectories of candidate and non-candidate countries in light of them becoming successfully, or less so, ‘ideal’ EU members or neighbours, respectively.

Keywords: Central and Eastern Europe, transformation, democratic transition, Europeanization, state-building, EU member state-building, EU neighbour state-building.



This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution − Non-Commercial − No Derivatives 4.0 International License.


Suggested citation: A Tyushka, ‘Twists and Turns of Democratic Transition and Europeanisation in East-Central Europe Since 1989: Betwixt EU Member and Neighbour State-Building’ (2020) 16 CYELP 133.