Does Monitoring without Enforcement Make a Difference? The European Union and anti-corruption policies in Bulgaria and Romania after accession


Journal Article

— PROJECT NAME

Does Monitoring without Enforcement Make a Difference?


— ROLE

Co-author,

with Ulrich Sedelmeier


— DATE

2021

Does Monitoring without Enforcement Make a Difference? The European Union and anti-corruption policies in Bulgaria and Romania after accession is an original article published in the Journal of European Public Policy.


The European Union (EU) has made effective corruption control a condition for membership, but it cannot sanction non-compliance once a country has joined. The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) was an institutional experiment to compensate the loss of sanctioning power after accession with continued monitoring. Most commentators dismiss the potential of such monitoring without enforcement. This article’s original coding of the CVM reports with regard to corruption control in Romania and Bulgaria provides an

empirical basis to assess the CVM’s ability to foster compliance. It suggests that monitoring can have a positive impact on state compliance even without material sanctions: despite the low expectations in the literature, compliance in Romania was significantly better than in Bulgaria. We explain Romania’s better compliance record with successful domestic institution-building. In contrast to Bulgaria, Romania created strong anti-corruption institutions that served as a powerful institutional base for the fight against corruption. The CVM has not only had a direct effect on institution-building, but also an important indirect effect. As the anti-corruption institutions remain vulnerable to governmental interference, the CVM played a key role as a social constraint on attempts by the government to curb their power and as a focal point for societal mobilisation.



Compliance with the European Union’s Anti-Corruption Conditions in the ‘Cooperation and Verification Mechanism’: Why is Romania Better than Bulgaria?


Working paper for MAXCAP Project

— PROJECT NAME

Compliance with the European Union's Anti-Corruption Conditions in the 'Cooperation and Verification Mechanism': Why is Romania Better than Bulgaria?


— ROLE

Co-author, with Ulrich Sedelmeier


— DATE

July 2016

This is a working paper and a research output for the Horizon 2020 Research Project, MAXCAP.


The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) is a novel attempt by the European Union (EU) to com-pensate for the loss of sanctioning power against non-compliance after a state has joined the EU. The CVM extends monitoring after accession, but it cannot sanction non-compliance. Yet this paper suggests that it may nonetheless have an impact on compliance. We code the CVM reports’ assessment of compliance with its recommendations for the fight against corruption in Romania and Bulgaria. The results suggest that compliance in Romania has become surprisingly good. Fieldwork in Romania provides evidence that these developments are due to institution-building: the creation of strong domestic institutions has created a powerful – yet fragile – institutional base for the fight against corruption. The main impact of the CVM has been as an international social constraint on efforts to obstruct these efforts, and as a focal point for societal mobilization. At the same time, compliance with the CVM does not directly translate into improvements of corruption in practice. While compliance with the CVM can create more favorable conditions for the improvement of corruption control, such improvements in practice require a central role of domestic civil society actors.