Exploring the Role of the EU in Domestic Change in the Post-Soviet States (2011 - 13)


Kataryna Wolczuk, Dr Laure Delcour (IRIS, Paris)


€196,000 (Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and its partner agencies in France, Germany and the Netherlands (ANR-DFG-NOW))


The project seeks to answer the following question: 'What role does the European Union (EU) play in domestic change in the post-Soviet states'? This question has gained salience since the EU has stepped up its role in the region, aiming on facilitating these countries' alignment with EU rules (acquis communautaire).

In doing so, the Union advocates 'Europeanisation as modernisation' but without offering the prospect of membership. By anchoring these partners in its model of governance, the neighbouring countries are to modernise their public institutions and policies, regardless of their actual aspirations to EU membership.

Thus, EU engagement in the post-Soviet states provides an excellent opportunity to analyse the EU’s 'transformative power' outside the context of enlargement. At present there is little understanding of partner countries’ preferences or of their actual degree of convergence with the acquis. This is surprising as the preference of post-Soviet states do matter given that there is a considerable uncertainty about the policy processes (the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership) and their  finalité.

Building on applicants’ previous field research in the region, the project proposes to examine the domestic process and outcomes of convergence with the EU rules in four post-Soviet states: Moldova, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The project seeks not only to generate much needed empirical data on the degree of convergence but also to contribute to a wider scholarly debate on the mechanisms underlying EU’s influence on non-member states and the outcomes of such influence.

Project aims and objectives

The project's overall objective is to assess the impact of EU policies against the background of partner countries' domestic structures and policy preferences; and the influence of other external players. The project specifically seeks to identify the extent to which the EU convergence process has impacted on four policy fields: anti-corruption measures, regulation of state aid, visa facilitation / liberalisation; and the energy sector.

Given the paucity of systematic and comparative field research on the post-Soviet states, the results of the project are likely to be of interest not just to academics but also to a wider non-academic audience, eg French, British and EU policy-makers.

More information about the project: http://euimpacteast.org/-English-.html