Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Josef Korbel School of International Studies

First Advisor

Rachel A. Epstein, Ph.D.


Civil society, Corruption, EU, European Union, International organizations, Post-communist transition


This study examines the role of the European Union (EU) in the process of managing corruption in the post-communist world. Throughout the post-communist transitions, which began in 1989, the EU has been consistent in putting a strong emphasis on the problem of corruption. As part of the transitions, there were many attempts at abating corruption domestically, most of which were expressed in the creation of institutions and legislation. Yet such attempts had varying effectiveness, and outcomes were not always expected nor predicted by scholars and policy-makers. Internationally, the EU expected that conditionality, which offered EU membership in exchange for compliance with EU- promoted anti-corruption norms, to be an effective mechanism to address high levels of corruption in the post-communist world. Yet, evidence demonstrates that membership incentive did not always correlate with strong performance. Countries such as Georgia, without the prospect of membership, often outperformed countries that had a membership incentive in addition to strong sanctions and conditions. This study sets out to explain these puzzles and to identify the conditions under which the EU had the most leverage over domestic anti-corruption reforms. Based on a comparison of EU's efforts of three countries - Bulgaria, Georgia, and Montenegro - and employing a combination of qualitative and quantitative data gathering techniques, the study makes two arguments. First, anti-corruption institutions were more successful in managing corruption where civil society was included in the process of institution-building, and later in the process of monitoring and reforming these institutions. Second, the study argues that the EU had more leverage over domestic anti-corruption reforms where it engaged non-state actors (non-governmental agencies) in a political dialogue and where a process of social learning started before membership conditionality. When this condition was present, the EU created a like-minded domestic partner capable of championing EU-promoted norms and supplying the EU with feedback and knowledge necessary to adapt conditions, incentives, and sanction to the local context and better address domestic corruption. The study contributes to our broader knowledge of post-communist transitions, Europeanization, and the scope and limits of international organizations' impact on domestic politics. In examining the development of civil society, it explains the role that civil society played in post-communist transitions. In examining the interaction of domestic civil society and international organizations, it contributes to the general understanding of the mechanisms and extent to which external actors can impact complex domestic issues.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Sabina Gueorguieva Pavlovska-Hilaiel

File size

376 p.

File format





International Relations, European Studies