Success in slow motion: The Europeanization of Romanian child protection policy

This paper analyzes the influence of the European Union (EU) through a
qualitative case study of child protection policy in Romania. Prior research has called attention to
several factors that promote Europeanization, including the presence of a pro-reform
domestic coalition,the clarity and consistency of the EU’s own legislative targets,a state’s
own prior involvement in the setting of European standards,a strong consensus among EU
member states backing the European position, and strong non-European support for EU
initiatives. According to these propositions, Romanian child protection seemed to provide
a worst case scenario for Europeanization, as initially none of these conditions held. And
yet the paper shows that substantial Europeanization occurred anyway. We argue that the
EU experienced a very slow start with Romania but that it cultivated an opposition that
responded to EU initiatives when that opposition took power. Moreover, the EU found
three “workarounds” to the obstacles just noted: it asserted legislative targets it did not
possess itself, invented new policy tools, and drew protection for its most controversial
policy from another international organization, the ECHR. Our central theoretical claim is
that external pressure requires internal accommodation in order to have lasting effects.The claim has important implications for the diffusion and conditionality debates.