Justice and security

Variation in EU external policies as a virtue: EU rule of law promotion in the neighbourhood

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The scholarship on European Union external relations ties good performance to enhanced coherence across EU policies, often understood as uniformity, and interprets any sign of variation as incoherence and double standards. This article challenges the virtuousness of such uniformity in the case of EU rule of law promotion in the neighbourhood and examines the parameters of the possible and the necessary. The findings reveal that variation in EU rule of law conceptions is inherent to the EU approach and inevitable due to the nature of the rule of law concept and the studied political context. Moreover, this variation in itself does not entail incoherence of EU rule of law promotion, as a shared understanding of the core meaning of the rule of law frames EU efforts across cases, and is even desirable for effective rule of law promotion, under law and development theory and practice.

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