An ambitious failure: Conceptualising the EU approach to rule of law promotion (in Ukraine)
This article conceptualises the EU approach to rule of law promotion outside of accession, taking Ukraine as a case study. Empirical evidence, collected through document analysis, expert interviews and participant observation, reveals that the rule of law as a legal and political category in EU external relations has little to do
with the essentialist scholarly defiitions of the concept. Instead, it constitutes an abstract ideal which frames bilateral cooperation at the political level and a banner under which the parties realise a variety of activities at the practical level. This EU approach is deliberate and meant to allow for defiing the rule of law in harmony with the parties’ integration ambitions, priorities and domestic institutional contexts. Th article concludes with a discussion of the fidings’ implications for future policy and research.