Taking Stock: A Socio-Economic Assessment of Moldova’s Europeanisation in Light of Its EU Membership Prospects

Kerry Longhurst
European Research Studies Journal, Volume XXVIΙ, Issue 1, 331-351, 2024
DOI: 10.35808/ersj/3363


Purpose: Moldova is a country with strong aspirations to join the European Union (EU), however, as a transition state it still has socio-economic structures resistant to the types of reforms needed to become an EU member. The goal of this article is to explore the Republic of Moldova’s EU membership prospects. The purpose is to highlight Moldova’s current progress towards EU accession criteria and the challenges and domestic roadblocks that stand in the way. Design/Methodology/Approach: The article develops a novel socio-economic approach and adopts the concept of ‘europeanisation’ to understand Moldova’s evolving alignment with the EU. A qualitative approach is pursued which relies on content analysis of key documents, economic data, civil society reports, and interviews with EU and Moldovan officials carried out in 2022 and 2023. Findings: Findings reveal a positive reform dynamic and strong political will, but at the same time critical shortcomings and weaknesses. By ‘digging deep’ into the domestic context of Moldova’s EU membership aspirations the article identifies three socio-economic structural features resulting from its characteristics as a transition state; a weak social contract, an economy shaped by legacies of the past and political polarisation, all of which have significant consequences for the country’s EU accession. Practical Implications: The practical implications of the findings suggest that plans to realise Moldova’s EU accession in 2030 are optimistic and the desire for a quick accession process to meet urgent geopolitical imperatives could mean that serious socio-economic structural problems are ignored. Findings also suggest that the EU needs to redouble its efforts to help Moldovans re-build their social contract, tackle the informal economy, and emphasise de-oligarchisation to enhance the country’s socio-economic resilience. Originality/Value: The value of the article comes from its timeliness and novel socio-economic approach, as such, the article contributes to filling the current research gap.

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