Judicial Reform in Turkey and the EU’s Political Conditionality: (Mis)Fit between Domestic Preferences and EU Demands

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The latest MAXCAP paper investigates the process of judicial reform in Turkey in the last 15 years, with a focus on the reversal of such reforms since 2013. To do so, it asks whether and to what extent these reforms as well as their changing pace and direction have been driven by the political conditionality of the EU and its credibility, on the one hand, and the domestic costs of adaptation, on the other. While the European Union accession process mattered greatly for the Turkish political transformation, it has been by no means the sole determinant of political changes. There are multiple factors shaping Turkey’s initial compliance with the EU’s political norms, and later their reversal including political costs of adaptation and veto players. The paper aims to explore this (mis)fit and the extent to which the EU’s credibility in its membership conditionality mattered in terms of Turkey’s path of reforms. The key proposition in the paper is that the EU’s lack of credibility combined with increased domestic material costs of judicial reforms at home triggered the backsliding and the reversal of judicial reforms in Turkey. It not only sheds light on the interplay of the EU’s credibility and the high domestic costs; the paper’s findings also challenge the emphasis of the literature on EU conditionality and the EU’s role as an external anchor even when accession negotiations stalled as in the Turkish case. The paper is available here.
Source: MAXCAP

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