Ryhor Nizhnikau will defend his doctoral thesis titled "Externally induced institutional change in the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood: migration and environment reforms in Ukraine and Moldova in 2010–2015" on 15 February 2017 at 16:00.
Prof Viacheslav Morozov (University of Tartu)
Dr Antoaneta Dimitrova (University of Leiden)
This thesis explores the role of the EU in advancing reforms in Ukraine and Moldova since the establishment of the Eastern Partnership. It aims to explain the different outcomes of institutional change in the migration and environmental protection sectors in both countries. It argues that external agency can facilitate reforms by empowering the pro-change stakeholders to overcome domestic structural constraints. To achieve that goal, however, the EU needs to embrace a process-oriented, rather than an outcome-oriented, strategy, aiming at the flexible adaptation of rules to local needs and assisting a variety of domestic actors to grow their capacity to actively participate in rulemaking and monitoring. To explain the observed outcomes, I draw on the literature on Europeanisation, international development and transnationalisation. I look at the reaction of domestic players to the external strategies, and evaluate the capacity of domestic players to monitor and co-sponsor institutional change with the help of assistance and monitoring capacities. The main aim of this thesis is to add to our understanding of institutional transformation, and in particular, of how differences in empowerment and rulemaking can lead either to persistence of old rules or to institutional change. In particular, this work addresses the ‘political economy problem’ of externally induced institutional change, which is largely neglected by the EU Studies literature. The core issue is the predatory behaviour of the domestic elites and their subversion of incentives and diversion of resources. In this regard, this paper argues that the EU and non-state stakeholders need to combine their efforts to create checks on the predatory behaviour of the incumbent elites. However, as this study shows, the effect depends on the mode of rulemaking and policies of empowerment. If the EU requires the participation of non-state actors and builds up their capacities alongside state actors, it helps to create deliberative institutions, institutionalise open competition, discussion and joint decision making, and increase the transparency and accountability of the state bureaucracy and elites.