Hague Journal on the Rule of Law

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 199–217 | Cite as

The EU’s Losing Battle Against Corruption in Bulgaria

  • Sabina Pavlovska-HilaielEmail author


Twenty-five years after the European Union identified high levels of corruption as a top issue to be addressed in Bulgaria, the country remains the most corrupt member state. This article asks why despite strong conditionality before accession in 2007 and a specially tailored cooperation and verification mechanism (CVM), the EU has been unsuccessful in effectively assisting management of corruption in Bulgaria. The article focuses on the CVM and argues that since Bulgaria’s accession in 2007, external pressure from the EU is a necessary but insufficient condition for change. The EU needs civil society organizations (CSOs) to be an empowered and trustworthy domestic partner, in order for the CVM to achieve the rule of law in Bulgaria. The main finding is that the EU has set itself up for failure even before it established the CVM, because it did not nourish an domestically active, strong and pro-EU CSOs.


Rule of law Civil society Europeanization Post-communism Socialization Corruption 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of DenverDenverUSA

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