This paper uses Europeanisation theory to explain why, through the enlargement policy of the European Union (EU), Croatia converged more successfully with the EU’s acquis than Serbia. It assesses two policy areas (compliance with the International Criminal Tribunal of the Former Yugoslavia and the Third Energy Package), considering three theoretical models (external incentives model, social learning model and lesson-drawing model) on three analytical levels (domestic, EU, and regional level). On all analytical levels, the dynamics of Serbia’s and Croatia’s Europeanisation processes best accord with the external incentives model: domestic elites weigh and act upon the costs and benefits of the EU’s demanded reforms. These are affected by third state interference and the EU’s enlargement strategies. The domestic level further provides evidence for the social learning model: the EU’s conduct affects the candidate states’ Europeanisation through discursive inclusion and exclusion. The paper finds no evidence for the lesson-drawing model: enlargement policy remains an EU-driven process. Croatia converged easier than Serbia to the EU acquis as it faced less political constraints domestically, is less prone to regional power interference, and was subjected to a more consistent enlargement strategy by the EU.
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