With the borders of the European Union (EU) moved eastwards, students of Europeanization have been awarded yet another real-world experiment. This paper explores to what extent existing Europeanization approaches travel beyond the EU’s border to its South Eastern and Eastern neighbours, which are marked by “bad governance” with regard to both the effectiveness and democratic legitimacy of their domestic institutions. The first part outlines key insights of the literature on “Europeanization West” regarding the outcomes and the mechanism of the domestic impact of the EU. Then, I summarize the main findings of research on “Europeanization East” focusing on factors that have limited or at least qualified the domestic impact of the EU in the ten Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) countries in comparison to the EU 15 (those that were members before the 2004 enlargement). This paper discusses to what extent the concepts and causal mechanisms need even further qualification when applied to countries, such as the European Neighbourhood Countries (ENC), that are neither willing nor necessarily capable of adapting to Europe and that do not even have the incentive of EU membership to cope with the costs. I will argue that the EU is unlikely to deploy any transformative power in its neighbourhood as long as it does not adjust its “accession tool box” to countries the EU does not want to take on as members. The paper concludes with some considerations on the policy implications of the EU’s approach of “move closer but don’t touch” which has started to creep into its relations with the Western Balkans and Turkey.
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