Comparative European Politics

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 217–241 | Cite as

Roma advocacy and EU conditionality: Not one without the other?

  • Melanie H Ram
Original Article


This article brings together the literature on European Union conditionality and transnational NGO advocacy by considering the fundamental role non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have played in the EU's efforts to bring about reforms in countries working to join the organization. Based in part on interviews in Romania, the Czech Republic and Brussels, and focusing on the case of anti-discrimination and the Roma (Gypsies), I consider both how the EU helped NGOs achieve their objectives and how NGOs influenced the creation and effect of EU requirements on candidate countries from Central and Eastern Europe (now new Member States). While problems for the Roma have certainly not disappeared, one cannot fully appreciate the development of either advocacy or conditionality regarding the Roma without considering the mutual dependence of NGOs and the EU. The NGO role is frequently disregarded in the top-down EU accession process, but I find that neither NGOs nor the EU would have been successful at advancing or sustaining domestic change on their own.


EU enlargement conditionality transnational advocacy NGOs minorities Roma 



I thank California State University, Fresno; the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX); and the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at The George Washington University for their financial support for my field research. I am also grateful to the many individuals who agreed to be interviewed for this research. Versions of this article were presented at the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) World Convention, Columbia University, NY (April 2009) and the Kolleg-Forschergruppe conference on ‘The Transformative Power of Europe’, Freie Universität Berlin (December 2009). Some of these ideas were originally explored in a paper presented at the Western Political Science Association Annual Meeting (March 2008).


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie H Ram
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceCalifornia State University, FresnoFresnoUSA

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