If EU leaders are looking for ways to make the Eastern Partnership successful, there are worse places to start than Moldova. Recent elections brought to power a four-party Alliance for European Integration, making the country the only post-Soviet state (aside from the Baltics) in the last ten years where the transfer of power took place via elections. Moreover, in terms of trade, its dependence on the EU is also greater than that of any other post-Soviet state and its support for European integration is the highest in the region. It also shares a language and a history with Romania (an EU member state), and due to migration flows and geography, it has the highest intensity of people-to-people interaction with the EU compared to the other former Soviet states. The country could serve as a laboratory for a different sort of European neighbourhood policy – a partnership that is more effective, more attuned to local needs and that gives palpable benefits for both the EU and its partners. Certainly, a successful EU policy on Moldova will not on its own transform the entire neighbourhood, but it could be a template for a more effective EU policy towards other post-Soviet states like Georgia, Armenia or Ukraine.
A former CEPS Research Fellow, Nicu Popescu is currently a Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations in London.