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Member State Building

February 2005

In an article that first appeared in the Journal of Democracy, ESI first used the concept of "member state building" as a particularly sophisticated and successful form of institution-building:

"Applied in countries that have been formally recognized as candidates for EU membership—currently Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Turkey—it is a model unique to the European continent. While the success stories of traditional capacity-building and authoritarian state-building are few and far between, the European member-state building model has accomplished revolutionary transformations over the past decade."

The article also introduced the notion of the "Helsinki Moment" (referring to the 1999 EU Helsinki Summit and its impact on candidate countries) to highlight the choice the EU faced in the Western Balkans:

"Sooner or later in the process of member-state building, every country reaches a ‘tipping point' at which practically the entire political spectrum becomes focused on the common vision of a different society. It is this mobilization of political energy that gives the EU integration process its extraordinary potency."
"The open question for 2005 is: will European leaders show the same boldness and vision as they did five years ago for Central Europe, the Eastern Balkans and Turkey when it comes to the Western Balkans? Will the countries of the Western Balkans experience their own Helsinki Moment?"

Minna Jarvenpaa took the lead in 2005 trying to persuade EU decision makers in Brussels. Many of these ideas were also embraced by the influential International Balkan Commission, whose report was drafted by a long-time friend of ESI, the Bulgarian Ivan Krastev.

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