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Political safeguards against democratic backsliding in the EU: the limits of material sanctions and the scope of social pressure

Sedelmeier, Ulrich (2016) Political safeguards against democratic backsliding in the EU: the limits of material sanctions and the scope of social pressure. Journal of European Public Policy, 24 (3). pp. 337-351. ISSN 1350-1763

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Identification Number: 10.1080/13501763.2016.1229358

Abstract

When confronting democratic backsliding in its member states, the European Union (EU) cannot rely on material sanctions. There are formidable obstacles to using the one political safeguard that entails material sanctions, namely Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). Moreover, the experience of the EU’s pre-accession conditionality suggests that even a credible threat of material sanctions is least effective the more severe the breaches of liberal democracy. However, EU interventions without material leverage are not necessarily doomed, as the case of Romania in 2012 shows. Under favourable conditions the EU can thus elicit governments to repeal illiberal practices by relying primarily on social pressure and persuasion. This contribution assesses to what extent novel instruments that EU institutions have developed to confront democratic backsliding meet the requirements for effective social influence. It argues that the Commission’s Rule of Law Framework has potential because it meets the criteria of formalization, publicity and impartiality. Yet, to increase the likelihood of influence, it needs to be applied more consistently and should be embedded in a process of regular monitoring through a democracy scoreboard covering all member states.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rjpp20/current
Additional Information: © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2016 13:35
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2019 02:19
Projects: 320115
Funders: European Commission
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/68112

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