Drawing the Line: The EU’s Political Accession Criteria and the Construction of Membership

In this paper I seek to explicate the ideas about EU membership embedded in the accession criteria, and in the pre-accession monitoring of Poland, Romania and Turkey. Taking four ideal-type modes of membership as my heuristic gear, I will show that the way the criteria were interpreted and implemented in the ‘progress towards accession’ reports, thickened the criteria and invoked a Civic-Cultural mode of membership for the EU. Two conclusions emerge: First there is a substantial degree of internal logic to the reports. The second conclusion is that the interpretation and reconstruction of the criteria, through the practice of pre-accession monitoring, entails an inherent amplification of the criteria.