The dissertation explores corruption in Romania during its transition from communism to democracy as well as the EU's efforts to curtail it and their consequences. It applies a theoretical framework that draws insight from three literatures: those relating to rent-seeking and corruption, the EU accession process and path-dependence. The dissertation demonstrates that corrupt practices in post-communist Romania are embedded in clientelistic structures originating in communist-era patron-client relations.
The dissertation examines the incentives and opportunities that underpin corruption and the mechanisms for curbing it in three distinct periods: post-transition, pre-EU and post- EU accession. In that process, the author identifies and analyzes the range of endogenous and exogenous factors that gave an impetus to anticorruption reforms.
The findings reveal that neither democratization nor marketization was able to undermine the persistent treatment of the state as the propertied possession of the political elite. The EU largely misunderstood corruption in Romania and underestimated the resourcefulness of a domestic elite determined to defend its privileges even after EU accession, while misconstruing the nature of the transition in Romania.
The dissertation highlights the importance of a better understanding of corruption in post-communist countries, and demonstrates the constraints and impact of EU Commission policies on the evolving Romanian polity. Parsimonious assumptions fail to encompass a path –dependent understanding of corruptive patterns. At the same time the dissertation brings to light the impact of multilevel governance on deep-seated patterns of political behavior. Without the efforts of the EU, corruption would reign unchecked, yet even with the powerful incentives and sanctions wielded by the EU Commission, corrupt practices remain embedded in Romania.