Commission's approach to minority protection during the preparation of the EU's Eastern enlargement: is 2 better than the promised 1?
Although minority protection was one of the Copenhagen political criteria and thus was at the core of the conditionality principle presupposing a fair assessment of the candidate countries' progress towards accession to the European Union on the merits, the Commission simultaneously promoted two contradicting approaches to the issue throughout the whole duration of the pre-accession process. They included, on the one hand, de facto assimilation and, on the other hand, cultural autonomy, thus being entirely contradictory. This paper is dedicated to outlining the main differences between the two key approaches to minority protection espoused by the Commission in the course of the latest enlargements' preparation. It also outlines the harmful effects of such an unbalanced approach to minority protection in the course of enlargement preparation on the future functioning of the EU enlargement law and, in particular, on the likely application of the conditionality principle in the future enlargement rounds.