Public PhD defence of Ryhor Nizhnikau
On 15 February, Ryhor Nizhnikau is defending his doctoral dissertation on "Externally induced institutional change in the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood: migration and environment reforms in Ukraine and Moldova in 2010–2015". The public defence takes place at 16.00 at the Senate Hall of the University of Tartu (Ülikooli 18-204).
The supervisor of his dissertation is Prof Viacheslav Morozov and the opponent is Dr Antoaneta Dimitrova (University of Leiden).
Synopsis of the dissertation:
This thesis explores the role of the EU in advancing reforms in Ukraine and Moldova since the establishment of the Eastern Partnership. It aims to explain the different outcomes of institutional change in the migration and environmental protection sectors in both countries. It argues that external agency can facilitate reforms by empowering the pro-change stakeholders to overcome domestic structural constraints. To achieve that goal, however, the EU needs to embrace a process-oriented, rather than an outcome-oriented, strategy, aiming at the flexible adaptation of rules to local needs and assisting a variety of domestic actors to grow their capacity to actively participate in rulemaking and monitoring.
To explain the observed outcomes, I draw on the literature on Europeanisation, international development and transnationalisation. I look at the reaction of domestic players to the external strategies, and evaluate the capacity of domestic players to monitor and co-sponsor institutional change with the help of assistance and monitoring capacities. The main aim of this thesis is to add to our understanding of institutional transformation, and in particular, of how differences in empowerment and rulemaking can lead either to persistence of old rules or to institutional change.
In particular, this work addresses the ‘political economy problem’ of externally induced institutional change, which is largely neglected by the EU Studies literature. The core issue is the predatory behaviour of the domestic elites and their subversion of incentives and diversion of resources. In this regard, this paper argues that the EU and non-state stakeholders need to combine their efforts to create checks on the predatory behaviour of the incumbent elites. However, as this study shows, the effect depends on the mode of rulemaking and policies of empowerment.
Research Communication Specialist
Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies
University of Tartu
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