This paper will look at the concept of de-Europeanisation through the prism of the official relations between the EU representatives and the political elites in two countries – Bulgaria and Serbia. Here de-Europeanisation is defined as a process of deterioration of the quality
of integration or more simply as 'it is worse than it was'. The article begins with a critical overview of the dominant theoretical approaches to enlargement Europeanisation. Then, from a theoretical perspective, the article explores the role of EU legitimisation for national political elites.
While distinguishing between revolutionary and opportunistic legitimisation, the paper highlights the former, based on Bulgaria and Serbia. Going beyond the liberal political narrative of democratic backsliding in Central Europe, the article will approach critically the dominant Europeanisation
assumption of the unequivocally positive effect of European integration on national political elites. Particularly, it will examine the relevance of the argument that in the case of rule of law and human rights, the existing formal Europeanisation not only does not lead to informal Europeanisation
of the states, but it can also have a reverse effect through the preservation of pathological political practices and their infusion into the process of European integration. The research will use a qualitative method of analysis to juxtapose the official EU/nation state political elites'
rhetoric with political practices at the national level in the context of rule of law and human rights. Based on the findings, the paper argues that the EU oriented institutionalised perspective of Europeanisation omits important interactions on a micro-level that lead to the accommodation
of political practices contradictory to EU's fundamental political values. While these practices survive in the peripheries of the integration process, they have the potential to multiply and eviscerate the fundamental political practices and thus the EU's political system.
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