CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

National Minorities and European Union Accession: A Consideration of Communist Legacies and EU Conditionality in Central and Eastern Europe

Esther Moriah Yeung, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Brendan O'Leary

Date of this Version: 07 April 2020



The fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe prompted Western Europe to integrate the region with European Union (EU) expansion. The collapse of the Eastern bloc was concerning to the West, which viewed the nationalist tensions in the region as having the potential to trigger destabilization and conflict. This thesis evaluates the treatment of Hungarian national minorities in three states that eventually joined the EU: Slovakia, Romania, and Slovenia. Marxist-Leninist legacies, in combination with democratization and EU membership, determined key differences in state compliance with EU national minority recommendations in the wake of membership. I identify how both communist-era legacies and European Union accession have shaped the treatment of national minorities – specifically Hungarian minorities – in each of the three cases. There are, however, additional variables that may shape majority and minority sentiment, and compliance with European Union conditionality. These are primarily domestic: the keenness of the state to achieve EU integration; the position of the state emerging from communism; the duration of EU accession; the relative size of the national minority group; and pre-communist historical events. The combination of domestic and international variables suggest that European Union conditionality is not sufficient to understand national minority group treatment; rather, it is a combination of international pressure and domestic state politics that influences how national minority rights are granted, maintained, or regress.


Comparative Politics | Eastern European Studies | European Law | Human Rights Law | International Relations | Race and Ethnicity | Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies

Suggested Citation

Yeung, Esther Moriah, "National Minorities and European Union Accession: A Consideration of Communist Legacies and EU Conditionality in Central and Eastern Europe" 07 April 2020. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 10 June 2020




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