10 Things to Read About EU Democracy Promotion

The EU’s democracy promotion has drawn a reasonable amount of attention from scholars. Plenty of research has been developed about the how the EU promotes democracy abroad: what type of democracy it promotes, what its priorities are, what autocratic forces may also be at play, etc. Here, we provide a list of 10 articles about the EU’s democracy promotion practices that will help our readers grasp the key components thereof.

1. Del Biondo, Karen (2015), “Donor Interests or Developmental Performance? Explaining Sanctions in EU Democracy Promotion In sub-Saharan Africa”, World Development, 75, pp.74-84

Del Biondo investigates why there are differences in the sanctions applied by the EU to African states. Using a comparative qualitative analysis of 17 Human Rights violations in 9 sub-Saharan countries, the author adds do the debate between the sanctions’ normative focus and strategic focus. Contrary to what a less careful analysis would suggest, Del Biondo finds that sanctions are not applied regardless of donor interests or the recipient country’s performance. With data from 2000 to 2011, it is the first multiple case and updated analysis on the topic.

2. Tordjman, Simon (2017), “Ambiguity as a Condition of Possibility: the European Endowment for Democracy and Democracy Promotion in the Caucasus”, Studies of Transition States and Societies, 9(1), pp. 3-13

In this paper, Tordjman provides us with a detailed description of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED). Based upon direct observation and interviews of EU and local officials, we learn how this mechanism is used in the Caucasus, and how its ambiguous nature may be the very thing that makes it successful, by making smaller operations possible.

3. Sharshenova, Aijan and Gordon Crawford (2017), “Undermining Western democracy promotion in Central Asia: China’s countervailing influences, powers and impact”, Central Asian Survey, 36(4), pp. 453-472

Sharshenova and Crawford answer the questions of if, and how, China undermines the West’s attempts and democratic promotion in Central Asia. Unlike what common sense might suggest, they find that China does not undermine democracy promotion directly, but rather by its own example of autocratic success.

4. Mouhib, Leila (2014), “EU Democracy Promotion in Tunisia and Morocco: Between Contextual Changes and Structural Continuity”, Mediterranean Politics, 19(3), pp. 351-372

Based upon interviews and EU documents collected between 2008 and 2013, Mouhib analyses if structural changes (like the “Arab Spring” movements) in autocratic countries produce any significant change in the EU’s application of the EIDHR or if, on the on the other hand, it is the EU’s own institutional dynamics that determine eventual change.

5. Grimm, Sonja and Lou Mathis (2015), “Stability First, Development Second, Democracy Third: The European Union’s Policy towards the Post-Conflict Western Balkans, 1991-2010”, Europe-Asia Studies, 67(6), pp. 916-947

The article focuses on the financial transfers from the EU to the Western Balkans between 1991 and 2010, and finds that the promotion of democracy is only the third of the EU’s priorities. Thus, Grimm and Mathis argue that, although the EU was active in the post war conflit of the Western Balkans, it needs to make a bigger effort on democracy promotion. The great contribution of this article is that it establishes a data base of financial transfers that did not exist before.

6. Haukenes, Katrine and Annette Freyberg-Inan (2012), “Enforcing consensus? The hidden bias in EU democracy promotion in Central and Eastern Europe”, Democratization, 20(7), pp. 1-29

In an analysis of the European Commission’s opinions and reports, Haukenes and Freyberg-Inan find that the EU’s democracy promotion is not unbiased as to which model of democracy it promotes. Rather, the EU seems to constantly promote Lijphart’s consensus model, even in unfavourable conditions.

7. Kurki, Milja (2011), “Governmentality and EU Democracy Promotion: The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the Construction of Democratic Civil Societies”, International Political Sociology, 5(4), pp.349-366

This paper provides an innovative view of the EU’s democracy promotion as it uses a Foucauldian analysis of the EIDHR to answer a question concerning if the EU promotes any particular democratic vision. It is found that the EU does promote specific types of freedoms, namely a neoliberal society.

8. Delcour, Laure and Kataryna Wolczuk (2015), “Spoiler or facilitator of democratization?: Russia’s role in Georgia and Ukraine”, Democratization, 22(3), pp. 459-478 

Delcour and Wolczuk analyse Russia’s reaction to political changes in Georgia and the Ukraine, and find that, even though the EU and the US had a relatively small impact, Russia responded harshly. However, it seems that this harsh response has actually driven Georgia and the Ukraine away from Russia.

9. Faust, Jörg and Maria Melody Garcia (2014), “With or Without Force? European Union Public Opinion on Democracy Promotion”, Journal of Common Market Studies, 52(4), pp.861-878

In this paper, using survey data from 11 EU countries, the authors investigate how socioeconomic background and political alignment affect citizen’s support for democracy promotion. To do this, the authors take into account not only person specific variables, but also country specific variables.

10. Korosteleva, Elena A. (2015), “The European Union and Belarus: democracy promotion by technocratic means?”, Democratization, 23(4), pp. 678-698

Using research conducted in Belarus between 2009 and 2013, this article examines the recent policy changes of the EU towards Belarus, and attempts to determine if these are responsible for the societal changes in the country. Specifically, it argues that that the EU’s change to a more technocratic approach may have had positive effects in terms of democracy promotion.

Photo by Thijs ter Haar / CC BY 2.0

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

João Espada Rodrigues

Intern at CEI-IUL. Undergraduate student of Political Science at ISCTE-IUL.

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