Did EU candidacy differentiation impact on the performance of pre-accession funds? A quantitative analysis of Western Balkan cases

Abstract

After four years of implementation the EU funds for candidate countries, the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), has shown a mixed performance, resulting in a statistically limited level of use of IPA funds in most target countries, though with some variance. This article intends to test the hypothesis linking such a differentiation with the presence or absence of the official status of candidate country. The analysis of the funds allocation levels, the funds absorption levels and the progress in administrative reforms nevertheless shows that candidacy status is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for a good IPA performance. Rather, the data show that the IPA funds were able to catalyse a good progress only in those target countries characterised by an average adaptation pressure, but not to spur laggards and frontrunners, recalling the hypothesis put forward by Radaelli in his analysis of the outcomes of Europeanisation.

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