The goal of this introduction is to outline the general thematic and interpretative scene wherein the next eight authors will elaborate in greater depth on more concrete issues. That is why this text mostly aims to review and rethink the achievements and problems of the local understanding of Bulgarian society in the last decades.
For nearly a decade Bulgaria and Romania were considered the laggards of the Fifth EU Enlargement. They seemed unable to cope with the timing of their Europeanisation and, hence, the support they got from the EU was a mere continuation of the pre-accession conditionality in the form of post-accession monitoring, obscurely named “Cooperation and Verification Mechanism” (cvm). This paper presents some sound empirical evidence to prove that the cvm did not work as expected. The malfunction of the mechanism was pre-destined by a crucial mistake in its initial political design since it was meant, in the first place, to soothe the West European disappointment with the Fifth Enlargement in the context of the EU’s constitution project failure. It was not tailored to the needs of a post-communist society – to establish anew a rule-of-law (RoL) institutional system, which was the core societal problem. The real issue at stake was not the “unpreparedness” of the two neighbouring countries, but a major flaw in the approach of the EU enlargement policy, which has manifested lately, in a much harsher form of serious rule of law abuses, by the developments in the previous “best performers of the Fifth Enlargement” – Hungary and Poland.