The aim of the article is to examine how a key principle of democratic government, public accountability, was applied during the process of the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union. The authoress analyses official documents and the public discourse in newspaper articles from the period between 1998 and 2000. She shows that the mechanism of accountability, which the European Commission introduced into the Czech political scene, was connected with the way in which the accession process was conceptualised as a set of technical tasks. She therefore argues that the European Commission introduced the 'technical' framework of the accession process, and she examines how this definitional framework was reflected in the public discourse. During the period under observation this framework was very influential; the Czech political scene also played a part in maintaining it and knew how to make strategic use of it. While the European Commission did contribute to establishing public accountability in the accession process, this accountability was only 'public' in the sense of its publicity, as the public at no point played a role in defining this framework. Although such discourse was specific to the period before the Czech Republic became a member of the EU, its general features are by no means a thing of the past. The conversion of political decisions into a 'technical' framework continues to be an effective means of dealing with complex social processes.
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