Powers of persuasion: Incentives, sanctions and conditionality in peacemaking
Publication date: 
2008
Accord issue: 
19

Conceptualising itself as a peace endeavour, the European Union (EU) has identified conflict resolution beyond its borders as one of its top foreign policy priorities. The EU can and has used integration incentives and conditionalities embedded in its contractual relationships with countries straddling or bordering the Union to this end. But through which mechanisms can EU contractual relations incentivise conflict resolution, and what determines their effectiveness? In addressing this question, Nathalie Tocci discusses three mechanisms – conditionality, learning and 'passive enforcement' – and identifies three main determinants of EU effectiveness: the value of benefits, the credibility of obligations and the political management of contractual relations. Problems around credibility and political management explain why, despite the value of the benefits it can offer, the EU frequently punches beneath its weight in conflict resolution.

At the end of the article is a description of Cyprus’s accession to the EU and development of the ‘Annan plan’ which proposed the creation of a united Cyprus Republic. The plan was the subject of a referendum in Cyprus and was rejected by the Greek Cypriot public. The failure to link EU accession more closely to the plan was seen by some as missed opportunity to use the accession process to make a significant contribution to the peace process.