Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Policy paper "From Attraction to Europeanisation - Moldova's Slow Movement Towards the EU"


Over the past couple of years, Moldova has appeared as the brightest spot in the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood. Its European orientation is the strongest in the region, supported by a vast majority of the population and all major political groups. It is the only Eastern Partnership (EaP) country with a positive development of democracy recently,  while its economy is recovering from the deep recession of 2009 and the business environment has improved. It has generated a lot of goodwill on the EU’s side, expressed by frequent high-level visits and meetings, abundance of positive statements and considerable increase of assistance. 

Yet the success story that the EU has eagerly helped to construct, not least because of lack of positive developments elsewhere in the region, is counterproductive if it receives limited support from reforms on the ground. This paper argues that it remains a major challenge for the EU to translate its strong model power and increased linkages with Moldova into actual Europeanisation of the country. As the EU becomes increasingly involved in Moldova’s domestic developments, it has to be fair and critical towards the leadership in order not to undermine its attractiveness and the country’s European orientation. The patience and determination of both sides is under test as the progress of reforms in Moldova is slow and the EU offers limited rewards for the fulfillment of its conditions.

This paper deliberately leaves aside the question of the Transnistrian conflict – not to deny that it is one of the major challenges faced by Moldova, but to underscore that it does not prevent Moldova from Europeanising its political system, the economy and society. The closer Moldova comes to the EU, the more motivated both sides will be to solve the conflict. Moldova needs not be reminded at this stage that it cannot join the EU without settling the Transnistrian conflict first – this is the case, but it has much work to do before possibly getting close to EU membership, and that work simultaneously brings the settlement closer.

In the following, I will first discuss shortly the concepts of model power and external governance that are helpful for understanding the relationship between the EU and Moldova. I will then take a look back at the events of spring 2009 in which the EU played an ambivalent role, and which nevertheless became a positive turning point in EU-Moldova relations, exposing the strength and uncontrolled nature of EU model power. The rest of the paper will examine the strengthening EU governance in Moldova as well as the limits and obstacles to the country’s European integration process.

Dr Kristi Raik,

Read policy paper From Attraction to Europeanisation - Moldova's Slow Movement Towards the EU  

(Published in Eastern Partnership Review No 2, November 2011)

Source of information – Estonian center of Eastern Partnership

Project funded by the European UnionEU