In 2000, the European Union (EU) extended the membership perspective to the Western Balkans; however these countries have taken different political paths towards EU accession at different speeds. The population census is one of the conditions for EU accession and part of the eighteenth acquis chapter on statistics. This article seeks to explain the variation in census-taking in the 2010 census round in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia considering two Europeanisation mechanisms: (a) the conditionality and (b) the legitimacy of the EU regulations in the area of census-taking. While conditionality assesses the cost-benefit calculation between the EU rewards/pressure and domestic adoption costs, legitimacy analyses whether the EU census regulations will be accepted based on their perception of appropriateness. Congruence analysis will be used to compare the effectiveness of the Europeanisation mechanisms on the censuses in the countries under investigation. The study concludes that in Croatia legitimacy had the most impact, whereas the cases of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia can be better explained by conditionality. Therewith this study contributes to the recent findings that conditionality as well as legitimacy matter for research on Europeanisation.
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