Brown Bag: Between Written and Unwritten Rules: On the Ambivalent Context of the EU-Sponsored Judicial Reforms in North Macedonia

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13:00 - 14:00


Zentrum für Südosteuropastudien & SOEGA


Ort: [015B030037] Seminarraum SR 15.33, Universitätsstraße 15 Bauteil B, 3.Obergeschoß


Termin vormerken: Termin vormerken

"Particularistic societies seem to have a frighteningly strong digestive capacity, for which the thousands of pages of acquis communautaire may prove no real challenge. The risk is then that the societies will only see formal and superficial changes, leaving their deep structure untouched." (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2005:67)

EU-aspirant countries in the Western Balkans face numerous rule of law-related difficulties that seriously undermine their prospects of future EU membership. They are characterised by a considerable implementation-related gap between legislation and practice. The aim of my thesis is to analyse the implementation of EU-sponsored judicial reforms in North Macedonia. The thesis’ main argument is that these are undermined by an ambivalent incentive structure which determines the behaviour of key political and judicial actors. I argue that although these actors are required to implement formal rules impartially and independently, they are constrained in practice by multiple ambivalent and informal, but widely-used, rules that are often in conflict with the formal rules. These "rules-in-use" are very diverse and context-dependent, and often lead to paradoxical outcomes. They can be conceptualised as society’s deep structure: they are fluid and adjustable to formal institutional changes, but simultaneously durable and change-resistant. Collected evidence suggests that political and judicial actors have to navigate between new, formal rules determined by EU law and standards, and a number of informal factors including old embedded informal practices, veto-player preferences and party members’ clientelist expectations. On a political level , this is manifested in the ambivalent behaviour of political actors who, when faced with the lack of a credible perspective on EU enlargement, are left without external incentives to implement rule-of-law reforms effectively. Instead, being guided only by the domestic incentive structure ("rules-in-use") they prefer to take advantage of the existing judicial institutional weaknesses and so continue to abuse their power to influence and control the judiciary. On a judicial level , the ambivalent incentive structure is manifested through various informal connections between judicial actors and undue informal influence which undermines judicial impartiality and independence.

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