What role does the European Union (EU) play in domestic change in its Eastern Neighbourhood?
This question has gained salience since the EU has stepped up its role in the region to facilitate these countries’ alignment with EU rules, norms and standards (the acquis). However, no precedent exists for EU’s promotion of the acquis as a template for development without the concurrent membership prospective. Thus, the EU engagement in the post-Soviet states provides an excellent opportunity to analyse the EU’s ‘transformative power’ outside the context of enlargement.
The project examines the domestic process and outcomes of convergence with EU rules in four post-Soviet states: Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia; Azerbaijan is also included as a test case. The overarching 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 focus is on four policy fields: regulation of state aid, visa facilitation/liberalisation, food safety and the energy sector. The project uses a triangulation of qualitative research methods: a) documentary analysis, b) semi-structured interviews with officials from the case studies countries and the EU and c) focus groups with non-governmental experts and academics in the post-Soviet countries.