Eastern Partnership, analyzed: how to strengthen the value of political association with the EU for Moldova

2017.03.28 Politică Victor Ursu Print version

The way how the EU is projecting its normative power, is, in the opinion of IDIS' experts, a vital topic to the success or failure of the concept of united Europe. What Moldovan citizens find out about the EU, create the mechanisms of social relationships, in relation to the idea of European identity, culture, behavior, aspirations and common interests? From this point of view, broadcasting the message and the normative EU speech is a task of the EU Delegation in each of the Eastern Partnership countries because through certain systematic and consistent speeches citizens can get closer, as well as political and economic elites, to the European model of governance, the EU civilizational narrative. What Moldovan citizens want to find about the EU and how can we be sure that this speech is communicated effectively, and that actually resonates with public expectations? Is the EU strong enough to convince Moldovan's` about its attraction in a historic moment with an internal crisis, recession and other factors, including the failure of the transformations proposed by the Eastern Partnership? These issues were discussed Tuesday, November 22, at the headquarters of IDIS, with the participation of EU-STRAT Programme, Leiden University, think tanks and local media in Moldova.

"We have a problem - how to make our message more clear, credible and attractive to the population and its elites? There is a great deficiency of functioning of the state and it does not refer only to the frequent accusation of catching it by diverse groups of clients, but also that they can block necessary reforms to increase economic and social competitiveness discouraging active population, and consequently - strikes the external partners of Moldova, particularly the European Union, as a transformative power. Illegal power groups may block or suspend systemic reforms for the sake of its own survival. Because keeping the monopoly power of such groups, even the most sophisticated compliance mechanisms and diversifying the EU will not stimulate systemic changes if internal actors, society and the democratic parties will not achieve real progress against agreed targets with the EU. The research that we propose in the EU-COAT is to identify these blocking factors, those unlawful power grids that manage to weaken or to capture the power of the state. We will use local data to understand the problem as an EU concept", said Igor Munteanu, “Viitorul” Executive Director.

Antoaneta Dimitrova, Associate Professor at the University of Leiden (Netherlands), Coordinator of the Working Group No.5 Soft Power Program under EU-STRAT programme, presented the first assessment of the EU Delegation speech, declaring that Community news on EU assistance have a share of 17%, news about general events with 17%, economic development - 11.9%, and the information about reforms - 9.9%, which represents the main accents of the EU in communicating with the public. She also stated that the purpose of assessing the discourse adopted by the EU in the Eastern Partnership countries is explained by a certain disorientation of the public in relation to the EU's relationship to its neighborhood policy. According to Antoaneta Dimitrova "The EU needs to know where its neighborhood policy is headed, which is the vision and security risks among countries of this region, and to what extent priorities pursued in the Eastern Partnership will remain in the coming years". We should see why the EU messages the EU are not as popular as they were a few years ago in the region, and what expectations have the citizens from the eastern neighborhood. EU turns its attention to policies and concrete reforms. This project will show in detail what happens in the eastern neighborhood of the European community and that the EU should focus on improving the communication".

In turn, Susanne Kiefer, Communication Specialist of the East Strat-Com Division argued "the European Union must reach a higher level in communicating its political intentions, strengthening the free press, but also counteract propaganda and political disinformation aggressive, derived mostly from Russia. It is important to strategically rethink the messages transmitted to the public by the EU Delegation and formulate some criteria in this direction: "Fewer messages with greater impact and ability to communicate in the straightforward language, simple, understandable to the target audience of Moldova and other Eastern Partnership countries".

In response, Ruxandra Stanciu, Press and Information Officer of EU Delegation in Moldova, stressed that: "the power of the positive example and modeling the relationship with Moldovan citizens are major goals of the communication strategy of the EU Delegation in Moldova. Systematic efforts will be made to restore the confidence in the EU, defining better the benefits of integration, expanding forms of interaction and target groups".

Attended the event, many press editors and leaders of think tanks kept noticing that in Moldova, "there is an abuse of fears of geopolitical factors that causes instability and divert public attention from the real agenda of reforms,", said the Director of IPRE, Iulian Groza. But the fact that over 80% of the licensed media in the country uses media content produced exclusively in the Russian Federation creates huge bottlenecks in communication, a negative impact on the Europeanization project and an active socialization of people". Moldova was left aside too much time given that 70% of TV stations in Moldova make propaganda. In the country there is a large presence of Russian programs compared to those in the EU. It is necessary for the EU to support Moldova in diversifying the sources of information", said Ludmila Barba, Senior editor at Moldova 1.

EU-STRAT is an international research project that studies the relationship between the European Union and the countries in the European Eastern neighborhood. The main ambition of EU-STRAT is to provide an inside-out analysis and strategic assessment of the links between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries. Those interested in the progress and results of this research can access the project website: or send an e-mail to Public Relations Coordinator of IDIS "Viitorul", Victor Ursu (telephone 069 017 396 or e-mail

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