1st Edition

Europeanization and Informal Networks in Southeastern Europe

By Alexander Mesarovich Copyright 2025
    206 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Europeanization and Informal Networks in Southeastern Europe considers the impact of political culture, including informal rules which regulate political behaviour, on formal political processes. Exploring the EU accession processes of Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia, the author identifies how the working and social culture of political elites enabled and/or constrained the ability of the respective legislatures to pass the reforms necessary to become members of the EU.

    The innovative approach quantifies informality at the elite level, taking a rigorous, multi-methods approach to identifying the sometimes-subtle impact of informal cultures on formal political processes. In doing so, it demonstrates the added value from studying informality by providing a richer understanding of the factors which help motivate and drive political action, and which may be invisible to an outside observer.  By examining features such as the connectedness of individuals and key committees, Mesarovich finds that hierarchical network structures can both accelerate and interfere with reform processes under different conditions.

    This book advances the field of Europeanization both within the framework of accession and more broadly, by highlighting network-level and individual factors which can deeply impact state-wide political outcomes, and will be of primary interest to an academic audience interested in the region, EU studies, Social Network Analysis, and regional politics.

    Acknowledgements

    A Note on Language and Pronunciation

    Chapter I: Introduction

    apse and Accession

    Chapter III: Demystifying the Web

    Chapter IV: Europeanization and Informal Networks in Slovenia

    Chapter V: Europeanization and Informal Networks in Croatia

    Chapter VI: Europeanization and Informal Networks in Serbia

    Chapter VII: Arrested Transformation

    Chapter VIII: Concluding Meditations on Informality

    Appendix I: Opening and Closing Chapters of the Acquis

    Appendix II: Financial Inflows

    Appendix III: Political Parties in Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia

    Biography

    Dr Alexander Mesarovich is currently a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence. He has worked on several H2020 projects, including ENGAGE, and published articles in Europe-Asia Studies and International Studies Quarterly. His research interests include EU accession in Southeastern Europe, radical right-wing populism, and EU foreign policy.

    Using a combination of methodologies, including Social Network Analysis and interviews with relevant stakeholders, to capture the impact of informal political networks in three successor states of former Yugoslavia – Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia - Alexander Mesarovich presents invaluable fresh evidence for understanding the reasons for their very different integration paths towards the European Union. By shedding light on an insufficiently studied aspect of political processes - informal channels of influence - the book will be indispensable reading for all scholars interested in the Western Balkans.

    -          Milica Uvalić, European University Institute, Florence

    The book offers an innovative perspective on the role of formal and informal mechanisms in conditionality and learning in the process of EU accession. It makes an important conceptual, methodological, and empirical contribution to scholarship on post-communist transition and EU accession. A much welcomed, needed, and highly recommendable book.

    -          Gëzim Krasniqi, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh

    Admirably written, this book explores the recent political history of Southeastern Europe as a laboratory of Europeanization: why have some countries in the region joined the EU, whilst others have drifted away from accession? Alexander Mesarovich answers this question by taking us into the subtle web of informal networks within the Parliaments of Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia. His exploration and findings are key to our understanding of how the politics of EU accession works through social relations.

    -          Claudio M. Radaelli, European University Institute, Florence