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International assistance, donor interests, and state capture in the Western Balkans

Bartlett, Will (2021) International assistance, donor interests, and state capture in the Western Balkans. Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 29 (2). 184 - 200. ISSN 1478-2804

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Identification Number: 10.1080/14782804.2020.1794801


Despite the enormous inflow of international assistance to the Western Balkans over the last 25 years, the intended state-building efforts have only had partial success and great concerns have been raised over the problems of state capture, weak governance, poor rule of law and widespread corruption at a high level throughout the region. The paper identifies the patterns of international assistance and examines the extent to which donor aid allocations have been driven by concerns for recipients’ need and merit, or by donor self-interest. The analysis reveals that while donor allocations have on the whole reflected need, they have not reflected merit to the same extent, suggesting that international assistance may have facilitated domestic political elites’ engagement in practices of rent-seeking and state capture. With a few exceptions, EU donors and EU Institutions have not allocated their aid to motivate adherence to EU norms in candidate and potential candidate states in the region. The paper concludes that the ‘Samaritans dilemma’ is alive and well in the Western Balkans, and that donors have chosen to mostly overlook poor governance behaviour among recipients in order to prioritise assistance to the neediest countries while pursuing their own foreign policy concerns.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2022 08:51
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2022 07:51

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