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Rule of Law in Central and Eastern Europe
Pursuant to the same logic that prevailed when Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman reached out to Germany after the end of World War II, and in keeping with the promise made in the Preamble of the founding treaty, the EU now reached out to Central and Eastern Europe after the end of the Cold War and offered integration. In recognition of the difficulties for the EU on the one side of absorbing a large number of countries without jeopardizing the functioning of the institutions, and the difficulties for the Central and Eastern European Countries ("CEECs") on the other side of transforming themselves into modern democracies with rule of law and functioning market economies, a number of pre-conditions for accession and a number of support schemes for the transformation were established. The present Article analyzes those pre-conditions that were supposed to promote the development of rule of law, as well as those schemes that were intended to support this development. It concludes that first, the concept of “rule of law,” although often quoted, is poorly defined and understood and this is an obstacle for countries aspiring to build a system based on rule of law. Second, Western support for the transformation in Central and Eastern Europe was and continues to be a combination of trial and error with a lack of appreciation of historic precedent and lessons.