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Fighting corruption in Croatia with the prospect of European Union Membership: on the non-sustainability of EU conditionality in policy fields governed by the soft acquis communautaire and lessons learned from the previous enlargements to Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania.

"Greek tragedy is based on myth, and Croatian on corruption." (Ivica Djikic) (2)


Croatia could conclude accession talks in 2010. Such was the message that awaited Ivo Josipovic upon his arrival in Brussels for his first visit to the European Union (EU) headquarters as newly elected Croatian President (3). However the positive statement has been counterbalanced by Brussels' officials reminding that Croatia still needs to fulfil some conditions prior receiving the membership sesame. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, namely declared that "negotiations for accession could be concluded [in 2010], provided that all conditions are met" and specified that "Croatia has to make some improvements in certain areas" (Balkan Insight 2010).

Conditioning EU membership on the fulfilment of specific criteria is characteristic of the method used by the EU to prepare its enlargements. The pre-accession conditionality method was inaugurated in 1993 with the adoption of the so-called Copenhagen Criteria as a response to the application for membership by the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs), which were facing great challenges to conform their societies to European standards. Part of the Copenhagen criteria is the political criteria (4). These require the Candidate country to have stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities. Though not explicitly mentioned, the fight against corruption comes under the scope of the political criteria since the level of corruption is a crucial determinant of the quality of governance (Vehovar and Jager 2003) which in turn influences the quality of institutions. According to the conditionality principles, a Candidate country shall be 'ready' to be invited to join the EU, in other words all criteria must be fulfilled including that the issues related to corruption should have been tackled by the time of accession. However, empirical evidences backed up by international organisations' reports (5) demonstrated that the fight against corruption has experienced some backsliding in newly integrated countries and notably in Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria. In the particular case of Romania and Bulgaria, the situation is even more striking since the EU imposed on both countries a post-accession monitoring mechanism--the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM)--to control the appropriate implementation of measures intended to curb corruption. Obviously the similar backsliding pattern and the apparent lack of willingness from the politician elites to seriously fight corruption--and especially high-level corruption--cast some doubt on EU conditionality and its post-accession sustainability once the membership lever is gone (Epstein and Sedelmeier 2008; Sedelmeier 2008). The concerns with the actual long-term sustainability of EU conditionality are of the greatest importance since the instrument is currently used in countries presenting serious corruption levels such as Croatia. Since the launch of the accession negotiations in 2005, the European Commission (EC) continuously denounced corruption as a serious area of concern in Croatia. Relying on the previous Slovene, Romanian and Bulgarian post-accession experiences, a backsliding scenario shall be considered.

The study will demonstrate that a distinction should be established between hard acquis and soft acquis, the combination of the two constituting the acquis communautaire. The hard acquis refers to the rules that Member States shall comply with at the risk of being prosecuted by the EC as offender to the EU law. Hence the hard acquis encompasses all kinds of legally binding acts, from the Treaties and the currently enacted legislation to the verdicts ruled by the European Court of Justice and the measures agreed under both Foreign and Security Policy and Justice and Home Affairs. Unlike the hard acquis, the soft acquis refers to the rules that are not legally binding but that provide the Member States with certain guidance and recommendations. It notably includes the communications and recommendations issued by the EC, the resolutions and recommendations of the Council and the conclusions delivered by the EU Presidency (Petrov 2008). While post-accession compliance towards hard acquis proved to be guaranteed, post-accession compliance towards soft acquis is much less evident. The study will also argue that a 'Croatian problem' similar to the 'eastern problem' is most likely to occur. While the first part will establish the theoretical background framing the present study, the second will analyse the relationship existing between corruption and EU conditionality through a comparative study of pre--and post-accession Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania. Building on the findings, the third part will consist in a diagnosis of the Croatian state of corruption and its potential post-accession path in order to provide sounded policy alternatives and improve the current EU approach towards corruption.

1. Theoretical Framework

1.1. Literature Review


Corruption and EU conditionality are the two core concepts that will serve as the basis of the present policy analysis. Being a multi-facetted concept, corruption is difficult to grasp and there is no single uniform definition of all the constituent elements of corruption. The EU defines corruption as the "abuse of power for private gain" (EC 2003d: 6). Corruption became a 'hot' topic with the third wave of democratisation and the transition of the CEECs towards democracy and the market economy. The transition process in those countries has been characterised by flagrant corruption and which brought the issue to the forefront of the public debate. Corruption has severe effects on both the economy and the governance of a given country. First, it harms the economy and hangs over the wealth of average citizens. Scholars have established that corruption among other things reduce economic growth and lower the level of foreign direct investment, to undermine the effectiveness of industrial policies and encourage businesses into unlawful behaviours (Rose-Ackerman 1999). Although some scholars, such as Huntington Leff and Lui, stress the positive impact of corruption on the economic growth of sclerosed society, experts usually believe that the short-term gains involved by corrupt practices are counterbalanced by its long-term negative effects, including spillover effects, the perpetuation of an insecure business climate, the additional burden on people unable or unwilling to bribe and the delay of actual state reform (Rose-Ackerman 1999: 16-17). Second, corruption undermines the overall governance of a country: citizens are marginalised from the political process due to the lack of transparency and the policy-making processes rather opaque because of the absence of clear check and balance mechanisms. Additionally, widespread corruption fosters disdain for and saps trust in public institutions, democratic politics, and the rule of law, which in turn delegitimizes democratic governance (Klitgaard 1991, Kainberger 2003). The overall structure of the EU being based on the mutual trust of the Member States, welcoming a highly corrupt Member State could jeopardise the entire mechanism (Alegre, Ivanova and Denis-Smith 2009). Hence, EU commitment to help Candidate countries to face corruption is not surprising.

European Union Conditionality

EU conditionality can be traced back as far as to the early 1960s but really became the cornerstone of EU strategy towards potential Candidate countries in the late 1980s (Papadimitriou and Phinnemore 2004, Pridham 2007). Back then, EU conditionality was characteristic of a democratic conditionality under which compliance to the EU rules depended essentially on the adoption costs and the credibility of the conditionality itself (Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2005). Over time, EU conditionality's timing, scope and focus, and priority and procedures have been reinforced--especially with the design and implementation of the Copenhagen criteria--leading to the emergence of a second kind of conditionality (6), i.e. the acquis conditionality (7). Unlike democratic conditionality, acquis conditionality is effective under the combination of credible membership perspective and clear setting of criteria as requirements for membership (Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2005). Though the method presented non-significant results in the 1970s and 1980s, its popularity is increasingly growing: using conditionality enables to exert social, economic or political influence without having to resort to more dangerous, costlier methods with no guarantee of results. Conditionality is expected to create a 'virtuous circle': the initial pressure to engage reforms is believed to create political support, which will in turn support modernisation and the continuation of the reforms (Veebel 2009). The causal relationship between the presence of EU conditionality and successful rule transfer in particular issue-areas has been tested by several scholars on the basis of the external incentives models, which presupposes that the government of the Candidate countries will comply with EU conditions if the benefits of the EU rewards surpass the domestic adoption costs (Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2005: 10-17).

Despite its astonishing results, the EU conditionality has its own weaknesses. On the one hand, the Copenhagen criteria leaves little room for negotiations and functions instead on a 'take it or leave it' basis. On the other hand, the strength of EU conditionality lies first and foremost on the conditional membership incentive, with the Candidate countries complying with any of the EU requests in order to enter the Union (Mungiu-Pippidi 2009) and the absence of persuasion and social learning (Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2005). Hence, with the disappearance of the membership lever, experts dread the emergence of an eastern problem (Sedelmeier 2008: 806) and questioned whether long-term efficiency has been sacrificed on the altar of short-term effectiveness (Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2004; Pridham 2007; Trautner 2009). Studies on CEECs' post-accession compliance with the EU acquis actually conclude that the CEECs perform generally much better than the old member states (Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2005; Sedelmeier 2008; Trauner 2009). If the acquis conditionality outcomes passed the test of post-accession, the democratic conditionality results are still more nuanced (Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2005). Thus the preliminary results on post-accession compliance remain to be further analysed.

1.2. Framework of Analysis

In light of the literature on corruption and EU conditionality, the study focuses on the specific relationship between EU conditionality and the fight against corruption in the Candidate countries. It seeks to assess whether the post-accession positive results of the acquis conditionality are equally observable in the framework of the fight against corruption and if there are grounds for concern with regard to Croatia's upcoming accession. Five hypotheses will be tested to establish the influence of specific variables, i.e. the pre-accession level of corruption, EU pressure, the domestic public pressure, the political leaders' commitment and time, on the persistence of the anti-corruption measures in newly integrated Member States:

1. The lower the level of corruption in the country, the higher the probability that anticorruption measures will continue to be implemented after accession within the EU.

2. The higher the EU pressure to fight corruption in the pre-accession phase, the lower the probability that anti-corruption measures will continue to be implemented after accession within the EU.

3. The higher the domestic public pressure to fight corruption in pre--and post-accession phases, the higher the probability that anti-corruption measures will continue to be implemented after accession within the EU.

4. The stronger the personal commitment of political leaders to fight corruption, the higher the probability that anti-corruption measures will continue to be implemented after accession within the EU.

5. The longer the anti-corruption measures have been implemented prior to the EU membership, the higher the probability that anti-corruption measures will continue to be implemented after accession within the EU.

The framework of analysis can be summarized as the following (9):

2. Testing the Relationship between the Fight against Corruption and the EU Conditionality in Candidate countries


2.1. Hard and Soft Acquis Communautaire

Around 30 000 legal acts. This is the staggering amount of acquis communautaire that a Candidate country shall transpose in its own national legislation prior to become a EU Member State. Though the preliminary results on the acquis conditionality sustainability are rather positive, empirical evidences show the opposite. 2004, Slovenia joins the EU; 2005, the Slovene Parliament decides to shut the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (Nations In Transit (NIT) Slovenia 2006). 2007, Bulgaria enters the EU; 2008, two major scandals involving the Minister of the Interior and the Deputy Director of the National Service for Combating Organised Crime (10) break out (Ivanova 2009), a confidential OLAF report (11) reveals severe misuse of EU funds and stresses the links between some Bulgarian political leaders and organised crime circles (12) (OLAF 2007) and the EC decides for the first time to deprive Bulgaria from EU funds. January 2007, Romania becomes a EU Member State; March 2007, Monica Macovei, Minister of Justice and emblem of the fight against high-level corruption in Romania, is dismissed (NIT Romania 2008). Three countries, two enlargements but one common denominator: the lack of sustainably of the anti-corruption related acquis conditionality once the membership leverage is gone. What are the implications of this recurring pattern on the acquis conditionality theory? Are these experiences a bad omen for post-accession Croatia? Far from denying the soundness and the interest of the acquis conditionality theory, the overall theory should be nuanced by introducing a distinction between hard acquis and soft acquis. So far, studies on the acquis conditionality and post-accession compliance focused on the areas related to the hard acquis, hence the positive results observed. On the contrary, post-accession compliance towards the soft acquis seems to be uneven. The EU can only provide recommendations (13) to the Candidate countries: no legally-binding act exists on what levels of corruption should be allowed in Member State, no common definition on what constitutes an 'independent' judiciary/administrative system is mentioned in the EU legislation, etc. The apparent soft acquis incapacity to prevent Candidate countries from backsliding raises some doubts concerning Croatia's future.

2.2. Applying the hypothetical model on Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria

The comparison between Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia is motivated by the fact that all of them are located in South-Eastern Europe. Besides they all lived under the communist rule for nearly half a century. Moreover, all of them but Slovenia have encountered a difficult transition: the collapse of the Communist bloc opened an era of authoritarian regimes instead of liberal democracies. Tuoman in Croatia, Iliescu in Romania and Zhelev in Bulgaria actually initiated in those countries a process of "democratization without decommunization" (Mungiu-Pippidi 2010). The Croatian transition was further worsened by the War of Independence that followed the breakdown of the Yugoslav Federation. Progressively 'watershed elections' (Vachudova 2010) put the three countries back on the liberal democracy tracks (14) but this illiberal detour carried much weight on their path towards EU membership. While Slovenia enjoyed a smooth accession process, Bulgaria and Romania faced stronger difficulties. For long regarded as 'laggards', they have seen their membership being postponed and conditioned to the acceptance of the CVM, a newly created instrument enabling the EC to keep them under close scrutiny for certain benchmarks. Hence Bulgaria and Romania are believed to be "either the last to benefit from the old enlargement policies, or the first to experience the novel, and expectedly more restrictive, stance of the EU to the admission of new member states" (Smilov cited in Trauner 2009: 2).

The influence of the pre-accession domestic level of corruption

Corruption is usually regarded as a disease infecting the vital organs of the society such as the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. In medicine, when an organ is too damaged, a transplant is required; in corrupt countries, the cure is the implementation of anti-corruption measures. In the same way as a transplant needs a body as healthy as possible to be assimilated, anti-corruption measures need a breeding ground to take root. If such is not the case, then a rejection is most likely to occur in both cases. Hence highly corrupt countries will be more inclined to suppress their anti-corruption measures after their integration. Three indicators, i.e. the Control of Corruption (CoC) (15), the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) (16) and the NIT Corruption score (17) will be used to evaluate the state of corruption in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia before their integration within the EU. Though crucial, these data have some weaknesses since they measure the perceived level of corruption. Corruption being by definition secretive and a multi-faceted concept, there might be a great difference between the perceived and the actual levels of corruption. However, the study overcome these shortcomings by the resort to qualitative reports such as the OSI reports issued in the framework of the EU Accession Monitoring Program (EUMAP) (18).

From the analysis of the CoC, the three countries can be clustered in two different groups. On the hand, Slovenia is granted with overall good results. From 1996 to 2004, its CoC score remains between 79.6 and 84.5. Though a decrease since 2000, a recovery is noticeable in 2003 and in 2004 Slovenia joined the EU with a score of 83.5. On the other hand, Bulgaria and Romania bring up the rear. Despite a low score at first (24.3), Bulgaria received over time better scores, up to 59.7 in 2004 and 2005. Since then its scores slightly decreased and Bulgaria entered the EU with a score of 54.6. As for Romania, during a first period, its score is above 5019 since 2005 and is of 56 in 2007.

In comparison to the older Member States, table 1 shows that Slovenia performs better than Greece and Italy and is very close to the Portuguese at the time of its integration within the EU. Though, Slovenia does not rank very high in the table, CoC figures reveal that the country is only 6.5 points away from the well-performing Member States (20), an observation confirmed by the CPI scores. Table 2 corroborates the preliminary results with regard to Bulgaria and Romania.

The analysis of the OSI and NIT reports sharpens the preliminary observations. Though corruption is said not to be a major issue in Slovenia, the OSI noted that its score was slightly decreasing and that the citizens believed corruption to be both widespread and increasing (OSI 2002c: 572).

However, perceived levels of corruption did not tally with the reality: in 2002, a study from the Ljubljana University demonstrated that whereas more than 60 % of the respondents considered corruption as a major issue, 95% admitted that they never personally suffered from it (NIT Slovenia 2004). As for Romania and Bulgaria, corruption is believed to be a highly significant problem. In Romania, "corruption has achieved a state of normalcy" (World Bank 2001: vi). Steady progress has been observed, especially since 2005, with the adoption of anti-corruption strategies and legislation, however "each concrete step was fought over fiercely between reformers and conservatives, and little progress was achieved in practice" (NIT Romania 200521). In Bulgaria, "corruption, particularly in the high echelons of power, [was] one of the most critical problems faced [...] on the eve of its accession to the European Union." (Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) 2006: 5). There corruption is also worsened by the existence of an active organised criminality.

During the pre-accession period, while Romania and Bulgaria experienced widespread corruption in several--and crucial--areas, Slovenia seemed to enjoy much lower levels of actual corruption. However each country has experienced serious backsliding in its anti-corruption policy once it became a EU Member State. Hence the pre-accession level of corruption of a country does not significantly influence the persistence of anti-corruption measures in the post-accession period.

The influence of EU pressure

The theory behind the second hypothesis rests on the essence of 'pressure' and the distinction between 'constraint' and 'obligation' made by the political and moral philosophy. While constraint implies the intervention of a repressive/compelling external force, the obligation is based on the subject's own free will. Intrinsically pressure pertains to constraint. Pressure being similar to a corset, the expected reaction for the subject once the repressive/compelling external force is gone is to get back to its initial position, i.e. the position occupied before the pressure occurred. EU official documents will enable measuring EU pressure. Each year, the EC publishes a report assessing the progress towards accession for each of the Candidate countries. The content of the 6 reports issued on Slovenia and of the 18 reports released for both Bulgaria and Romania will serve as the main basis for testing the hypothesis.

In the pre-accession period, the EC addressed corruption issues in a different manner depending on the country concerned. The chart below, compiling the occurrence of the word 'corruption' in the reports (22), gives a general idea of the level of EU pressure upon Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria.

As suggested in the graph, EU pressure on Slovenia was pretty weak. The comments on corruption were always quite succinct. From 1998 to 2003, the EC constantly stated that "corruption problems are relatively limited" in Slovenia (EC 1998c: 9). Starting 2002, the statement was however directly followed by some concerns with regard to the increasing perceived level of corruption (EC 2002c: 23, 2003c: 13). Despite the absence of significant EU pressure, the accession process did influence the Slovene corruption-related environment. The reforms introduced by the government, including the harmonisation of the criminal law to the acquis communautaire, the creation of anti-corruption bodies and the development of a coherent anti-corruption policy, were engaged as a result of the comments made by both the EU and the Council of Europe (CoE) and the recommendations provided by the Group of State against Corruption (GRECO) (23) (EC 2001c, 2002c, 2003c; OSI 2002c). Likewise, the EU membership is the main driving force for the Slovene participation to anti-corruption initiatives (24) and the ratification of the international anti-corruption Conventions (25) (EC 2003d). Romania and Bulgaria experienced much greater pressure from the EU: the poor performance showed by both countries to fight corruption efficiently is one of the main reasons explaining their postponed accession. In 1998, the reports evaluated corruption in Romania and Bulgaria rather briefly; respectively 12 and 15 lines were devoted to the issue. However, corruption was given very quickly much more space and attention. Over time the reports gained in precision concerning the effects of corruption on society, the sectors infected, the anti-corruption measures implemented and their effectiveness, and delivered recommendations for further actions. Though EU pressure remained very strong on Bulgaria during the pre-accession period, it evolved slightly over time as suggested by the graph results. The EC successively characterised corruption in Bulgaria as a 'serious problem' (1998),'very serious problem' (1999-2001), 'serious problem' (2002-2004) and finally 'a cause for concern' (2005). The EC urged Bulgaria to focus on fighting high-level corruption starting from 2004. With regard to Romania, corruption is characterised as 'a widespread and systemic problem' and from 2001 to 2004 (26). The characteristic is mentioned not fewer than four times during the evaluation, a way for the EU to anchor the importance of the issue. The EC noted the efforts made by the Romanian government and declared in 2004 that the Romanian anti-corruption framework was in line with the EU acquis. Yet, the Commission deplored the lack of results and urge Romania to enforce the existing legislation and focus on high-level corruption. Moreover, while the frequency of 'corruption' was the highest in 2004 and 2005, the tone of the reports was also much sharper than in the previous reports. Finally, the EU maintained its pressure on both Bulgaria and Romania until the very end and conditioned their membership to the acceptance of a post-accession monitoring mechanism a European premiere.


Once more Slovenia differs widely from its two counterparts during the pre-accession period. However, after their accession within the EU the three of them tried to undermine and even withdraw their anti-corruption measures. Hence, in the light of the findings, the hypothesis shall be rejected: EU pressure in the pre-accession phase does not significantly influence the persistence of anti-corruption measures in the post-accession period.

The influence of domestic public pressure

The constraint/obligation philosophical theory also applies to the third hypothesis. However this time a change of perspective is required. Unlike EU pressure, domestic public pressure is by nature endogenous and pertains to the concept of 'obligation'. On the scale of a country, the population acts as collective consciousness and represents the free will of the aforementioned country. Building on the corset analogy, the country will not get back to its initial position once the repressive/compelling external force is gone, if sufficient internal pressure exists to maintain the subject in its new position. The evaluation of the hypothesis is based on several sources including NIT and CSD reports, scholar researches and the testimony of national experts (27).

Overall Slovene, Bulgarian and Romania citizens are well aware of the state of corruption in their respective countries. Analysing election campaigns provide valuable information to assess whether the widespread public awareness actually results public pressure towards corruption-related issues. Indeed, elections represent the main citizens' leverage to pressure their political leaders into addressing their main sources of concern. Over time, and especially from the 2000s, political parties in CEECs have started politicising corruption with some success (B?genholm A. 2009). In 2004, corruption was a cornerstone of the Slovene parliamentary election campaign (NIT Slovenia 2005) and a similar trend was observable in the 2005 Bulgarian and the 2004 Romanian elections. Advocacy NGOs represent another vector of expression of the public pressure but unlike the periodic elections, their actions and pressure are continuous. While anti-corruption NGOs are relatively weak in Slovenia (28), Romania and Bulgaria enjoyed very active advocacy NGOs during the pre-accession period. In Bulgaria, Coalition 2000 (29) played a key role in shaping the anti-corruption debate. It focused its efforts on facilitating the dialogue between the Government, NGOs and other institutions with regard to the fight against corruption and on monitoring the path of Bulgarian anti-corruption policies (30). Moreover it drafted an anticorruption action plan for Bulgaria that heavily influenced the content of the 2001 National Anti-corruption Strategy (CSD 2004, OSI 2002a). Advocacy NGOs were also particularly vibrant in Romania, notably due to the weakness of opposition political parties and played a key role in the democratisation of the society (NIT Romania 2004). Romanian NGOs regrouped themselves under coalitions: Coalition for Transparency (31) and Coalition for a Clean Parliament (32). While the former closely monitored the enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act, the latter scrutinised all candidate running for the parliamentary elections and developed 'blacklists' to pressure the political parties to withdraw the pariahs from their electoral lists (NIT Romania 2005). Following its success, the initiative has been renewed in the framework of the European elections (NIT Romania 2007). Another sign of the Romanian civil society strength was the appointment of Mrs. Macovei--a civil society activist--as Minister of Justice in 2004. Media also played a major role in the formation and the maintenance of domestic public pressure insofar as they represent the main source of information for the citizens. Corruption affairs receive extensive coverage in the three countries and in Romania the media regularly relayed the initiatives undertaken by anti-corruption NGOs. The domestic public pressure also played a crucial role in the persistence of anti-corruption policies. In Slovenia, the attempts to shut down the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption provoked an outcry among the population and an initiative headed by the non-parliamentarian Youth Party of Slovenia has been launched very quickly to put the closing of the Commission under a referendum (NIT Slovenia 2006). In 2004, a "Romanian Watergate" (33) revealed that the then Government saw advocacy NGOs as a menace that should be taken care of (NIT Romania 2005). Though reprehensible, the incident underlined the strength of NGOs. Despite their great dynamism, advocacy NGOs in Bulgaria and Romania are facing huge financial difficulties--which involves independence issues--since 2007 due to the end of the international donors' aid.

All in all, a strong public mobilisation can lead to the adoption and protection of anti-corruption measures. Although strong public pressure may not prevent the political leaders from dismantling anti-corruption measures, testimonies argue that domestic public pressure actually contains and limits the process. Hence, the domestic public pressure has a significant influence on the persistence of anti-corruption measures.

The influence of the political leaders' personal commitment

Adopting and enforcing anti-corruption measures is a difficult and long-lasting process usually involving deep institutional reforms. Embedding changes in public institutions such as the judiciary and the administration, changes that might put high-level public officials under pressure, requires strong and competent leaders who do believe in the changes soundness (Fernandez and Rainey 2006; Yukl 2008). In countries plagued by political corruption, if anti-corruption champions are absent or too scarce, a sword of Damocles stands over the anti-corruption measures and is very likely to swoop down as soon as a shift in the balance of power occurs. The study will determine whether the measures adopted and implemented in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia were the fruits from the solely EU pressure or if the political leaders' personal commitment to fight corruption actually played a significant role. The evaluation of the hypothesis will be realised on the basis of several kind of sources including NIT reports, scholar researches and the national experts' assessments.

Though not under firm EU pressure, the accession process did actually influence the Slovene leaders to engage into the fight against corruption (OSI 2002c). In 2000 and 2003, major corruption affairs involving high-level officials (34) broke out and lead to the first conviction of a civil servant for corruption-related crime in the country (35). However, accusations of corruption were mainly serving political interests (NIT Slovenia 2004) and in the end the participation of high-level official within the Slovene economic life remained quite widespread (NIT Slovenia 2003). During the pre-accession period, Bulgaria and Romania were rarely pro-active and it is actually the 'stick of EU conditionality' that gave the beat to their progresses: "Every time the EU penalised the two laggards, their governments would rapidly respond by presenting revised reform strategies and making pledges for additional measures" (Noutcheva and Bechev 2008: 124). Hence, the personal commitment in both countries political leaders is highly questionable.

The perception is reinforced by the fact that the 'big fish' remained mostly out of the prosecution scope in both countries though the EC repeatedly urged both countries to tackle the issue of high-level corruption in a serious manner and denounced the lack of political will to do so (EC Bulgaria and Romania 2003-2006). With the election of a new Government and the appointment of Monica Macovei as Minister of Justice, 2004 represented a milestone for the fight against high-level corruption in Romania. While the Office of the National Anticorruption Prosecutor (NAPO) (36) only prosecuted two officials in two years, the newly created DNA presented in 2006 the following record: over 1 000 defendants have been charged with corruption, including seven Members of Parliament, two ministers and a deputy minister and several magistrates, out of which over 400 convictions have been pronounced. Nevertheless the political will to fight corruption within the Government and the Parliament remained uneven and anti-corruption measures were often fought fiercely (NIT Romania 2006 and 2007). Few efforts to curb high-level corruption have actually taken place in Bulgaria, a statement annually emphasised by the EC since 2004. Nevertheless, the positive results observed in the three countries concerning high-level corruption seem to simply be brief bursts rather than long-lasting trends. In Slovenia, anti-corruption efforts were essentially made to please EU officials in Brussels, an observation somehow relayed by Helsinki Monitor (NIT Slovenia 2004). No real personal commitment from the political leaders to fight corruption was--and is--actually observable (37). With regard to Romania, experts remained quite sceptical on the 'conversion' of political leaders to EU values and believed it to be rather rhetoric (Mungiu-Pippidi cited in Trauner 2009). They also stressed that within the top-levels circles, pro-anti-corruption leaders were heavily outnumbered (38). Finally, the EC continued to criticise the Bulgarian lack of political will to fight actively high-level corruption and particularly expressed it with a rather nondiplomatic tone in the 2008 CVM interim report (EC 2008c).

Hence, in the light of the findings, the hypothesis can be accepted: the personal commitment of political leaders to fight corruption has a significant impact on the persistence of anti-corruption measures after the accession within the EU.

The influence of time

Embedding structural changes in public institutions requires a key parameter: time. Implementing anti-corruption measures will require the reform of several core public institutions, such as the judiciary and the administration. However "institutional arrangements are incredibly resilient and resistant even in the face of huge historic breaks" such as revolutions or defeat in war (Thelen 2003: 209). This resilience to change can be linked with the fact that legacies have a great influence on the current functioning of institutions (Thelen 2003). Hence, time would be a crucial factor to break down the institutional resilience, enable costly measures to take root and become the norm within the society and to make their removal more costly than their permanence. To analyse the relationship between time and the persistence of anti-corruption measure, the time between the adoption of anti-corruption measures, their actual enforcement and the integration within the EU as well as the consequences of the lift of EU conditionality will be evaluated on the basis of NIT and EC reports and experts' assessments.

Though not under firm EU pressure, Slovenia adopted certain anti-corruption measures. In 2001, with the creation of the Office for the Prevention of Corruption as and the first conviction of a civil servant for corruption-related crime, Slovene pace to curb corruption seemed to accelerate. The EC noticed that the recommendations made by the GRECO surely had a lot to do with it (EC 2002c). In its last report prior to the 2004 enlargement, the EC highlighted some shortcomings but did not ask for particular requirement. Alike Slovenia, since they officially became Candidate countries, Bulgaria and Romania adopted a great array of anti-corruption measures. However, their enforcement failed to come up to the EU expectations. On several occasions, the EC notified both countries that the measures adopted were weakly implemented and that priority should be given to their enforcement.

Romanian efforts to curb corruption have been uneven but since late 2004 and the arrival to power of a new governmental team, the pace of the reforms enforcement has been increasing. In 2006, the EC noted that "the reforms led by the Ministry of Justice and the [DNA] need to be followed by sustained efforts of all other state institutions so that the progress made becomes irreversible" (EC 2006e: 14). Bulgaria's turning point came earlier, in 2001-2002, and coincided with the rapprochement between the Government and civil society, and the adoption of a national Strategy for Combating Corruption (EC 2001a and 2002a). However, high-level has never really been addressed in the pre-accession period. Hence, while at the threshold of the EU, Bulgaria was reminded by the EC that it shall "present clear evidence of results in its fight against corruption, in particular high-level corruption" (EC 2006b: 9).

To summarise, Slovenia and Romania started to devote significant efforts to curb corruption, and especially high-level corruption, around two years before their accession. Bulgaria is quite a special case since great efforts were made starting in 2001-2002 but never fully addressed the issue of high-level corruption. It is evident that a couple of year is not sufficient for costly and troubling anti-corruption measures to anchor deep enough in the structures of the society and resist to post-accession pressures for removal. Since 2005, the Slovene Commission for the Prevention of Corruption works under the constant threat of being dismissed (NIT Slovenia 2006). Despite the CVM, the Romanian Government quickly dismissed Minister of Justice Monica Macovei. Her successor, Tudor Chiuariu, got involved soon enough in the DNA affairs in order to put a hold on investigations involving top officials (NIT Romania 2008).

These interference practices have continued under Chiariu's successor, Minister of Justice Catalin Predoiu (NIT Romania 2009). In Bulgaria, the networks involving organised crime and politicians proved to be tough to get rid of (OLAF 2007) and the country already experienced negative opinions as well as substantial financial sanctions from the EC. A posteriori, some officials from the EC recognised that the reforms have been implemented simply too late and were not given sufficient time to embed in the system. Anti-corruption measures only recently enforced are not rooted deep enough in the institutional structures to cope with the end of the EU conditionality. Hence, time can be accepted as a crucial factor for the persistence of anti-corruption measures after the accession within the EU.

2.3. Conclusions

The evaluation of the hypothetical model on the persistence of anti-corruption measures revealed that three of the five proposed hypotheses have a significant influence on the post-accession persistence of anti-corruption measures, i.e. 'public domestic pressure', 'personal commitment from the political leaders' and 'time'. Though excluded, the variables 'level of corruption' and 'EU pressure' have actually helped fostering the adoption of anti-corruption measures in the pre-accession period. However, their impact proved to be insufficient to ensure the sustainability of the reforms over time. Sustainability of anti-corruption measures cannot be achieved without internal demand. Hence a change of model is necessary. The persistence of anti-corruption measures shall be understood as the result of a synergy created by the interweaving of two 'outer' variables enhancing the apparition of anti-corruption measures, i.e. level of corruption and EU pressure, and three 'inner' variables supporting the persistence of these measures, i.e. domestic public pressure, time and political leaders' personal commitment.

Overall, the results from the evaluation demonstrated that the sustainability of the soft acquis is not assured and depends more on endogenous factors than on the EU conditionality. To ensure the persistence of anti-corruption measures in Croatia, appraising its potential post-accession trajectory is necessary.


3. Croatia beyond Accession: Securing and strengthening the progress achieved under the EU conditionality

3.1. Applying the Synergy Model to Croatia: the 'Outer' variables

The Level of Corruption

Croatia's performance is quite similar to Romania and Bulgaria. Even if international indicators grade the country with better scores, Croatian results are way behind those achieved by Slovenia. From 1996 to 2002, its CoC score has greatly improved but since then it wavers between 62.6 and 58.3. With similar NIT and CPI scores, Croatia ranks worldwide among the countries with a medium level of corruption. From a solely European perspective, Croatian results are very close to the EU less performing countries.

Overall, corruption in Croatia severely affects the judiciary, the health sector and education institutions as well as general administrative services and public procurement are usually perceived as the most corrupt sectors. Recent surveys confirm these findings. In 2008, 51.6% of the respondents declared they have been asked to pay a bribe by a government official or a civil servant for his/her service, while 21.8% of them have been subjected to bribery by a doctor/nurse (Gallup Balkan Monitor). Moreover, the Global Competitiveness Index 2009-201039 emphasises the unfairness and unpredictability of public procurement in Croatia. The country performs poorly with regard to the diversion of public funds to companies, individuals, or groups due to corruption and the favouritism of government officials towards well-connected companies and individuals when deciding upon policies and contracts, with a score respectively of 3.2 and 2.7 (Business Anti-Corruption Portal 2009).

Private interests also interfere with the State business. TI's Global Corruption Barometer 2009 establishes that state capture is quite widespread: 85% of the respondents believe that the private sector uses bribery to influence government policies, laws or regulations while 68% of them declare that it is a very serious problem. Despite the burden of the Communist era legacy, the War of Independence and the privatisation process (40) are actually the two 'original sins' (41) explaining the persistent high level of corruption in Croatia. Croatia also suffers from organised crime activities. Although less 'organised' than in Bulgaria (42), the Croatian organised crime groups proved through the assassination of high-profile personalities, including several investigative journalists, that they can be serious veto players and can challenge the state authority (NIT Croatia 2009). The combination of these factors enhanced the long-lasting establishment of underground governance structures competing with the legal structures and as things stand at the present those parallel institutions have not yet been dismantled (43).

The EU pressure

EU pressure was applied as early as in 2001 with the signature of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA). Under the SAA, Croatia committed to participate in anticorruption projects and to comply with the EU acquis which required the adoption of an anti-corruption strategy and the establishment of a legal framework as well as institutions to fight corruption (Budak 2006). When Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania applied for the EU membership, the EC evaluated corruption-related issues under the political criteria and in chapter 24 'Cooperation in the field of Justice and Home Affairs'. With Croatia, the EC adapted its method to the shortcomings experienced during the previous negotiations by translating much of the political criteria into the new negotiating chapter 23 'Judiciary and Fundamental Rights', which opening and closing depends on the ability of Croatia to meet certain benchmarks. Apart from this change of method, EU pressure is also visible through the weight given by the EC to corruption issues in its regular reports (44). The chart below shows that the occurrence of 'corruption' in the reports on Croatia reached levels similar or even superior to Bulgaria and Romania, though Croatia experiences lower level of corruption. What's more, the EC began stressing the importance played by corruption in the negotiating process much earlier in the case of Croatia.


The greater scrutiny demonstrated by the EC in 2009 can be related to the violent murders of two journalists and of the daughter of a prominent lawyer in October 2008 and the difficulties encountered by the Government to investigate and prosecute these cases (NIT Croatia 2009). Corruption in Croatia is seen as a "serious and widespread problem [affecting] many aspects of society" (EC 2005c: 13), except in 2006 when it became only a 'serious' problem and in 2009 when it was said to "still [be] prevalent in many areas" (EC 2009d: 10, 11).

Under the EU conditionality and following GRECO recommendations, Croatia progressively built up an entire legal framework to fight corruption. In February 2009, the Government renewed its Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan, providing Croatia with a complete anti-corruption package. Since 2001, Croatia has centralised the fight against corruption within the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK), which investigate and prosecute corruption cases. After difficult beginnings, USKOK has become increasingly active, investigating high-level corruption cases. Meanwhile the anti-corruption framework has been reinforced by the establishment of four special chambers dealing with organised crime and corruption cases and a National Police Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (PNUSKOK) (EC 2009d). Additionally, in line with the EU requirements, Croatia signed and ratified several international anti-corruption Conventions. Despite welcoming the progress achieved, the EC continues to advocate for a clear legislation on conflict of interest, political accountability and the full enforcement of already adopted anti-corruption measures (EC 2009d).

3.2. Applying the Synergy Model to Croatia: the 'Inner' variables

The Internal Domestic Pressure

Croatian people are well aware of corruption. In 2009, 52.3% estimated that the current level of corruption was worse than five years ago and 86.8% believed that the government was not doing enough to fight corruption. 73.7% of the Croatian people also considered corruption as more harmful than helpful. Although they reject the use of money to get some privileges, a majority still consider the use of small gifts or the resort to relations as acceptable to get better services, especially when it concerns healthcare, education, public procurements and fines (Gallup Balkan Monitor). Corruption was at the heart of the debates during the last Croatian presidential election campaign. In January 2010, Ivo Josipovic, with a programme calling for a strong fight against corruption, was elected with a strong majority over Milan Bandic, the charismatic but not above suspicion Mayor of Zagreb (AFP 2010, BBC News 2010). Despite their desire for less corruption, Croatian citizens remain fatalist and scarcely rise up against the political leaders to demand greater transparency and better results in the fight against corruption45.

With regard to the civil society, Croatia paints a rather mild picture. Even if Croatian advocacy NGOs play a crucial role in the continuing democratisation of the society, their influence on the policy-making process remains weak, due to the lack of trust from the Government (EC 2009d). Despite some positive signs (NIT Croatia 2009; Hina 2009), a majority of officials still consider advocacy NGOs as "enemies of the State" (46). TI Croatia, the Adriatic Institute for Public Policy (47) and GONG48 are amid the most active organisations on the advocacy scene. However the Croatian advocacy NGOs environment is undermined by two elements: the increasing influence of state-supported NGOs promoting nationalist and non-democratic values and the lack of financial long-term sustainability (NIT Croatia 2008). Similarly to their Bulgarian and Romanian fellows, Croatian advocacy NGOs depend almost exclusively on international donors. The Croatian media landscape does not really encourage people to question corruption since it focuses on sensational matters. Besides, the violent murders and attacks towards journalists reporting on corruption/organised-crime stories and the lack of progress in solving these cases do not foster investigative journalism (NIT Croatia 2009).

The Political Leaders' Personal Commitment

Corruption started to become a hot topic in the political circles at the end of the Tudman era. In 2006, the EC noted that "the importance of tackling corruption is being increasingly highlighted by senior politicians" (EC 2006c). Since 2007, the government is on the offensive and have organised four high-profile anti-corruption operations: 'Dijagnoza 1 and 2', 'Maestro', 'Gruntovcan' and 'Indeks' (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2009; NIT Croatia 2009). These operations have been respectively directed towards the health care, the Croatian Privatization Fund, the Zagreb Land Registry and the Zagreb University, and have led to the arrest of high-ranking officials. The evolution in the fight against corruption undertaken by the Croatian authorities is mainly attributable to both EU and public pressure (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2009). Yet, if investigations on corruption-related cases are more frequent, prosecutions come about solely as a result of external pressures (49). Nevertheless, observers have noticed interesting changes. Acting as Minister of Education (2003-2009), Dragan Primorac managed to curb corruption significantly in the Croatian education system, a commitment that was not directly related to the EU conditionality (50). Likewise, Minister of Justice Ivan Simonovic declared during a round-table conference that "[Croatia] need[s] to carry out (the anti-corruption programme) with very clear principles--nobody should be above the law". He also underlined that even if there is less corruption in Croatia than in other EU Member States, the fight against corruption should not be hindered (Prenc 2009). Equally, since her appointment as Prime Minister in July 2009, Jadranka Kosor has demonstrated strong commitment to the fight against corruption (51). Finally, the election of Ivo Josipovic was another positive element, even if the presidential powers are limited to a primarily ceremonial role (52). However, the fact that most of the Government officials (53) are involved in conflicts of interest or suspected to maintain privileged ties with the underground structures already cast some serious doubts on the declared goodwill to fight corruption.

With regard to the high-profile sting operations, they have rarely resulted in clear statements and convictions. Besides, the persons convicted for corruption crime are mainly low--or mid-level actors; top-level actors are usually spared. The investigations and prosecution of 'big fish' are often disturbed by political interference and USKOK investigations on high-corruption cases suffer from a lack of support from a majority of political leaders (EC 2009d). Besides, political leaders are not above suspicion. The reasons behind former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader's sudden resignation in July 2009 remain quite unclear. In March 2010, Former Croatian deputy Prime Minister Damir Polanec was arrested on suspicion of illegal mediation (Grdic 2010). As of today, Polanec is the highest-ranking official that has ever been investigated on under corruption allegations. Anticorruption bodies are also affected by corruption: in 2008, the chairperson of the Committee for the Prevention of Conflict of Interest had to resign due to corruption allegations (EC 2008e). NIT notably underlined the persistence of a "double loyalty" system of values in Croatia, "where hidden political agendas are more important than cash payments as basic sources of corruption" (NIT Croatia 2008 (54)).

In the end, despite the efforts of the Croatian Government, the EC deplores the absence of a culture of political accountability (EC 2009d).


Looking at how the EU conditionality was applied with regard to Croatia, it is evident that the EC learned from the strengths and weaknesses of the previous enlargements. It showed clear concerns to start tackling the corruption issue at the earlier stages of the accession process. In 2006, the EC arrived at the same conclusions that it did few years ago for Romania and Bulgaria: Croatia has most of the required instruments to fight corruption properly in its hands but their enforcement remains partial (EC 2006c). Though welcoming the progress made by the USKOK in investigating alleged cases of high-level corruption, the EC regrets that too few of them are actually followed by prosecutions and convictions. Croatia's turning point occurred in 2006-2007, date in which the EC and NIT started mentioning the country's progress in the fight against corruption in their reports, which coincided with the operations 'Diagnosis', 'Maestro', 'Gruntovcan' and 'Index'. As of today, the EC continues to underline the need for the Croatian Government to correctly enforce the anti-corruption measures adopted, especially in a non-partisan manner (EC 2009d). Besides, the recent big entrance of the organised crime presents another challenge for the Croatian authorities in their fight against high-level corruption.

3.3. Croatia beyond Accession: between 'Backslide' and 'Status Quo'

The evaluation of Croatia with regard to the synergy model demonstrates that the country in its pre-accession state is actually showing great similarities with Bulgaria and Romania. However it is still too early to assess whether the EC will recommend implementing the CVM in Croatia after the accession (55). Hence, starting from the assumption that the monitoring mechanism will not be applied, anti-corruption measures may encounter three different fates once the EU conditionality will be gone: 'Backslide', 'Status Quo' and 'Consolidation' (56).

The 'Backslide' path suggests that once the EU membership is secured, the Candidate country will stop its efforts and undermine the troubling anti-corruption measures. A backslide combines three elements: a weak domestic public pressure, political leaders without any particular personal commitment to fight against corruption on their own and a superficial implementation, since anti-corruption measures have barely yet had time to go deeper than the 'crust' of the governance structure. The 'Status Quo' path would be pursued on the grounds that anti-corruption measures were integrated in the governance structure of the country during the pre-accession period and that the costs of keeping them would equal the cost of removing them. The continuity of anti-corruption measures will results from the association of three factors. First, domestic public pressure will be able to have an impact on the political leaders' decision-making. Second the political leaders believing in the soundness of the fight against corruption will represent a strong and visible minority that will be difficult to remove or ignore. Third, anti-corruption measures have been given enough time to reach the 'mantel' of the governance structure.

The 'Consolidation' path implies that anti-corruption measures will be reinforced after the EU accession. While the previous paths were solely based on the EU conditionality, the 'consolidation' path entails the strengthening and deepening of anti-corruption measures after the enlargement. The interaction of three features will produce this 'social learning (Pridham 2007). While domestic public pressure will proved to be strong and sustainable over time, the political leaders' personal commitment will turn to the fight against corruption which will have become the norm since anti-corruption measures will have been in place long enough to reach the 'core' of the governance structure.

Taking Croatia's background and current balance of power, which is represented in table 5, into account and assuming that the country will keep going, a backsliding is most likely to occur. Political leaders seem to only present the facade of personal commitment and are rather prompt to interfere in a judicial system that still seriously lack independence. Hence while USKOK is multiplying investigations, actual prosecutions are actually scarce. As a matter of fact, prosecutions are usually launched because of strong external pressure (57). What makes matters worse, domestic public pressure is unlikely to enhance any positive spillover: Croatian citizens remain quite fatalist while the achievements completed by the advocacy NGOs are threatened by the upcoming withdrawal of international donors aid and the unwillingness of the Government to finance 'watchdog' NGOs. On the bright side, domestic public has pressure proved to be strong enough to drive allegedly corrupt ministers to resign and to urge the Government to address 'corruption' as a top priority in the political agenda. The time frame also shows some encouraging trends. While the Romanian and Slovene anti-corruption measures have really been enforced less than two years before their integration within the EU, Croatia's competent authorities have been implementing them for a longer time. Thus upon its integration within the EU (58), Croatia's anti-corruption measures should be more deeply rooted. Nevertheless since the enlargement is said to be imminent, it is unlikely that the anti-corruption measures will have enough time to reach the 'core' of the governance structure by then. Unfortunately, judging by the apparent strengths of both domestic public pressure and anti-corruption roots, it is unlikely that they could resist to the negative spillover coming from the political leaders.


Even if Croatia seems to head for a 'Backsliding' path, the EU still has the capacity--and the duty--if it modifies its current approach to help Croatia to fight corruption properly and enhance a shift in the balance of powers (Table 5).

The Croatian political leaders' supremacy should be counterbalanced by empowering both citizens and advocacy NGOs. With regard to the business sector, its influence on the decision-making process should be lowered. However, its overall interests should be still taken into account in order to develop a sound and sustainable business environment. Finally, weak as they are, organised crime groups should no longer constitute a stakeholder.

4. Conclusions and Recommendations

EU conditionality is undoubtedly a strong instrument able to foster radical changes in Candidate countries. However the Bulgarian, Romanian and Slovene post-accession experiences with regard to the fight against corruption have questioned its sustainability. Despite its overall satisfactory outcomes, the EU conditionality fails to make changes irreversible when it comes to areas depending on the soft acquis. The comparative study on the persistence of anti-corruption measures in the post-accession period has demonstrated that the compliance from the newly EU Member States towards soft acquis is uneven. Though the EU conditionality is a powerful lever, its pressure alone cannot make a corrupt system deeply rooted in the structures of governance structures collapse. At most it can make it wobble. For the system to crumble, the pressure must also emanate from the inside. As demonstrated the persistence of anti-corruption measures depends on the synergy created by the interweaving of two 'outer' variables enhancing the adoption of anticorruption measures and three 'inner' variables fostering their persistence. The dynamic within the synergy will provide a key explanation to understand and if necessary to determine, the post-accession trajectory of Candidate countries.

Croatia will probably become the 28th EU Member State but the state of corruption in the country shows a worrisome picture similar to the Bulgarian and Romanian's at the time of their accession. The analysis of the Croatian synergy shows that the country is heading for a 'Backslide' path. It is the duty of the EU to make sure that before granting membership, Candidate countries will be able to handle their new responsibilities and will not endanger the European construction and its founding principles. Hence the EU shall endeavour to keep Croatia away from the 'Backslide' and to enhance instead its 'Status Quo'. Overall, the EU has adopted a judicious but too soft approach that could be improved. The study proposes two types of recommendations:

Specific recommendations on Croatia:

--Believing that a Candidate country aware of its accession date of will lead at most to unsustainable anti-corruption measures and that Croatia is not yet ready to fully handle the EU responsibilities, the EU shall not inform Croatia of its integration date as long as possible but continue to give the country precise and regular updates on its progress/regression.

--Considering that political interests are too influential at the end of the negotiation process, the EU should condition the membership to the outcomes of an external audit--carried out by an impartial third party under the mandate of both the EU and Croatia--on the level of corruption in the country.

--Judging that Croatia is still facing serious shortcomings in its fight against corruption and since the GRECO monitoring does not offer as much follow-up as the CVM, the EU shall establish--in the absence of an EU-wide monitoring mechanism--a temporary post-accession monitoring mechanism in Croatia. This monitoring mechanism should be based on precise benchmarks and complemented by a wider range of safeguards in order to make the sanctions credible and reinforce the position of the European institutions in the balance of powers.

--Assuming the crucial role of advocacy NGOs in the mobilisation of domestic public pressure to defend anti-corruption measures, the EU shall develop mid- and long-term solutions, including direct financing, in order to ensure that the Croatian civil society environment will remain favourable to the development and strengthening of advocacy NGOs after the accession of the country into the EU.

--Being convinced that waiting for changes at elite-level is a misguided strategy, the EU shall continue to implement learning programmes and reinforce their potential by extending their scope to the post-accession period while limiting the number of partners. The EU should also carefully consider the possibility to appointing 'guardians' from other Member States in Croatia and especially in the judiciary.

General recommendations:

--Considering that a mechanism enabling the comparison of the EU27 anticorruption policies is still lacking and that the Stockholm Programme calls for the development of indicators measuring corruption, the EU shall take advantage of the positive timing and introduce a EU-wide monitoring mechanism that could be based on the OMC.

--Noticing the changes made to the negotiating framework since the 2004 and 2007 enlargements but considering that it could be further improved, the EU shall introduce two additional negotiating chapters with opening and closing benchmarks on the administration and on the high-level corruption.

--Believing that Candidate countries lose a substantial amount of time in designing adequate anti-corruption legislations partly due to the lack of determinacy of the EU conditions, the EU shall gather the whole range of soft acquis related to corruption into a single reference document and design general guidelines that could be used by the Candidate country as a 'pattern' for the design of its own anticorruption legislation framework.

Building on the fact that advocacy NGOs from the CEECs and the Balkans are facing particular constraints, especially because of their 'watchdog' activities, and that the current response from the EU is not fully satisfactory, the EU shall launch a public consultation as soon as possible in order to develop a renewed strategy for advocacy NGOs in the EU, Candidate and Potential Candidate Countries.



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(1) Graduate student, Hertie School of Governance. Angelique Hardy's research interests focus on the EU external relations and especially the EU enlargement process as well as the transitions to good governance.

(2) Djikic I. (2001:1)

(3) Ivo Josipovic, Social Democrat, won the presidential elections on the 10th of January 2010 with 60,3% of the votes (BBC News 2010)

(4) The political criteria are completed by the economic and the legislative criteria.

(5) NIT Slovenia 2006, 2007, NIT Bulgaria and Romania 2008, 2009

(6) Democratic conditionality refers to the EU strategy to link its external incentives to the fundamental principles of the EU, including among others the respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, the adherence for the norms of human rights and minority protection, the development of a liberal democracy and the promotion of a market economy (Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2005: 211).

(7) Acquis conditionality emerges once the Candidate countries start the accession process towards full membership. This pre-accession conditionality is rather strict (Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2005:212).

(8) Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier also designed two alternative models to the external incentives model. The social learning model establishes that a state adopts EU rules if it is persuaded of the appropriateness of EU rules and the lesson-drawing model argues that a state will adopt EU rule, if it expects these rules to solve domestic policy problems effectively (Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2005: 18-25).

(9) The design of the model has been influenced by the model developed by M. Ristei and N. Senic in their comparative study on Romania and Slovenia (Ristei and Senic 2007: 7)

(10) The Minister of the Interior was caught meeting with acknowledged organised crime people. The Deputy Director of the National Service for Combating Organised Crime was believed to provide criminals with crucial information. While the former resigned, the latter has been trialled.

(11) The confidential OLAF report has been leaked to the media, hence its ,public' characteristic.

(12) The report notably established a connection between the Nikolov-Stoykov Group and the Bulgarian President and a former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

(13) The EU strategy towards corruption is notably based on two different communications issued by the EC (EC 1997a and 2003d), and the Stockholm Programme. For further details:

(14) The Watershed elections' occurred in Romania in 1996, in Bulgaria in 1997 and in Croatia in 2000 (Vachudova 2010).

(15) CoC is one of the six aggregate indicators developed by D. Kaufmann A. Kraay and M. Mastruzzi and published by the WB to evaluate good governance. The CoC measures the extent to which public power is exercised in order to satisfy private interests and state capture. CoC scores are expressed in percentage, 100 being the best score. For further details:

(16) The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is an aggregate indicator measuring the perceived level of public-sector corruption on a scale from 10 to 0, 10 being the best score. For further details: /surveys_indices/cpi/2009

(17) Corruption is one of the seven dimensions six until 2004--evaluated in the NIT reports. NIT rates corruption in 29 countries on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of corruption. For further details:

(18) EUMAP is an initiative launched in 2000 aimed at supporting independent monitoring of the EU accession process by civil society representatives. For further details: and 1euaccesscorruptionfullreport_20020601.pdf

(19) '50'represents a threshold in Kaufmann, Kraay and Mastruzzi's evaluation.

(20) Countries performing well are countries that obtained a CoC score between 90 and 95.

(21) The file retrieved was not paginated.

(22) Were excluded from the statement the words 'corruption' that were included in the title of legislations, conventions or institutions.

(23) GRECO was created in 1999 by the CoE in order to monitor the compliance of its Member States with the organisation's anti-corruption standards. As of today, GRECO comprises 47 member States and has preformed three evaluation rounds. For further details:

(24) Slovenia notably joined OCTOPUS I and II.

(25) 'International anti-corruption Conventions' notably include: the UN Convention against Corruption the OECD Convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions, the CoE Criminal Law Convention on Corruption, the CoE Civil Law Convention on Corruption and the CoE Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime.

(26) Only twice in 2002.

(27) In the framework of the study, experts from the European Commission, from diverse NGOs and from the four countries under scrutiny have been interviewed.

(28) Interview with an expert from Slovenia.

(29) Coalition 2000 is an initiative launched in 1998 by a group of civil society organisations.

(30) Coalition 2000 still monitors Bulgaria annually.

(31) Coalition for Transparency has been set up in 2001

(32) Coalition for a Clean Parliament has been created in 2004

(33) In 2004, confidential transcripts of the then SDP-dominated government meetings leaked to the press. They revealed the project from the SDP to undermine the civil society by creating a counter civil society (NIT Romania 2005).

(34) The State Secretary of the Ministry of the Economy, Boris Sustar (2000), Koper mayor Boris Popovic and Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel (2003).

(35) Boris Sustar has been convicted in 2001.

(36) The NAPO was a special agency created in 2002 on order to fight grand corruption that was replaced in 2005 by the DNA.

(37) Interview with an expert from Slovenia.

(38) Interview with experts from Romania.

(39) The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is an aggregate indicator assessing the competitiveness of nations. Countries are rated from 1 to 7, 1 representing the worst possible situation. For further details:

(40) President Tuoman wanted to develop a "capitalism with a Croatian face" by allowing 200 Croatian families to take over the economy and lead the country's transformation (Grubisa 2005: 66)

(41) In his study, Grubisa actually considers the privatisation process as the 'original sin' (Grubisa 2005: 66)

(42) Interviews with officials from the EC.

(43) Interview with an expert from Croatia

(44) The results for 2004 are based on the Opinion on Croatia issued by the EC.

(45) Interview with an expert from Croatia.

(46) Ibid.

(47) The Adriatic Institute for Public Policy is an independent Croatian think tank founded in 2004. Its main missions are to strengthen the rule of law and advance economic freedom in Croatia and southeast Europe. For further details:

(48) GONG is a NGO founded in 1997 in order to encourage citizens to take active participation in political processes. For further details:

(49) Interview with a expert from Croatia

(50) Interview with a representative from Gallup Europe

(51) Interviews with officials from the EC and representatives from Gallup Europe and the Regional Cooperation Council

(52) Ibid

(53) Interview with a expert from Croatia

(54) The document is not paginated

(55) Interviews with European Commission officials

(56) The typology is inspired from the four post-accession dynamics developed by G. Pridham to evaluate Romania's post-accession compliance (Pridham 2007: 6)

(57) Interview with an expert from Croatia
Table 1 : Level of Corruption in the EU15 and
in Slovenia in 2004

CoC 2004                     CPI 2004

Finland           100.0      Finland       9.7
Denmark           98.5       Denmark       9.5
Sweden            97.6        Sweden       9.2
Austria           96.6     Netherlands     8.7
Netherlands       95.6    United Kingdom   8.6
Luxembourg        95.1       Austria       8.4
United Kingdom    94.2      Luxembourg     8.4
Germany           93.7       Germany       8.2
Belgium           91.7       Belgium       7.5
France            90.8       Ireland       7.5
Ireland           90.3        France       7.1
Spain             89.8        Spain        7.1
Portugal          86.9       Portugal      6.3
Slovenia          83.5       Slovenia      6.0
Greece            71.4        Italy        4.8
Italy             70.9        Greece       4.3

Sources: World Bank and Transparency International

Table 2: Level of Corruption in the EU25 and in
Bulgaria and Romania in 2007

CoC 2007                    CPI 2007

Finland           99.5      Finland       9.4
Denmark           99.0      Denmark       9.4
Sweden            98.1       Sweden       9.3
Netherlands       97.1    Netherlands     9.0
Luxembourg        96.6     Luxembourg     8.4
Austria           94.2      Austria       8.1
United Kingdom    93.7   United Kingdom   8.4
Germany           93.2      Germany       7.8
Ireland           92.8      Ireland       7.5
Belgium           91.3      Belgium       7.1
France            89.4       France       7.3
Malta             85.5       Malta        5.8
Spain             84.1       Spain        6.7
Portugal          83.1      Portugal      6.5
Estonia           81.2      Estonia       6.5
Slovenia          80.7      Slovenia      6.6
Cyprus            77.8       Cyprus       5.3
Hungary           72.5      Hungary       5.3
Latvia            68.1       Latvia       4.8
Italy             66.2       Italy        5.2
Slovakia          65.7      Slovakia      4.9
Czech Republic    65.2   Czech Republic   5.2
Greece            62.8       Greece       4.6
Poland            61.8       Poland       4.2
Lithuania         61.4     Lithuania      4.8
Romania           56.0      Romania       3.7
Bulgaria          54.6      Bulgaria      4.1

Sources: World Bank and Transparency International

Table 3: Level of Corruption in the
EU27 and in Croatia in 2008/2009

CoC 2008                      CPI 2009

Finland            100.0      Denmark       9.3
Denmark            99.0        Sweden       9.2
Sweden             97.6     Netherlands     8.9
Netherlands        97.1       Finland       8.9
Luxembourg         95.2      Luxembourg     8.2
Austria            93.7       Germany       8.0
Germany            93.2       Ireland       8.0
United Kingdom     92.8       Austria       7.9
Ireland            92.3    United Kingdom   7.7
France             91.3       Belgium       7.1
Belgium            90.3        France       6.9
Spain              84.5       Estonia       6.6
Portugal           83.1       Slovenia      6.6
Cyprus             82.6        Cyprus       6.6
Malta              81.6        Spain        6.1
Slovenia           79.7       Portugal      5.8
Estonia            79.2        Malta        5.2
Hungary            72.5       Hungary       5.1
Slovakia           68.6        Poland       5.0
Poland             67.6    Czech Republic   4.9
Czech Republic     66.7      Lithuania      4.9
Latvia             64.7       Slovakia      4.5
Lithuania          63.3        Latvia       4.5
Italy              62.3        Italy        4.3
Croatia            61.8       Croatia       4.1
Greece             60.9        Greece       3.8
Romania            57.0       Romania       3.8
Bulgaria           52.2       Bulgaria      3.8

Sources: World Bank and Transparency International

Table 4: A Typology on the Persistence of Anti-Corruption Measures

Persistence of      Domestic         Political             Time
  Anti-Corruption    Public           Leaders'
  Measures          Pressure         Commitment

Backslide              Weak          Merely EU          Superficial

Status Quo           Medium       Strong Minority        In-Between

Consolidation        Strong           Majority           Meaningful
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Author:Hardy, Angelique
Publication:Romanian Journal of Political Science
Date:Sep 1, 2010
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