As Moldova’s government loses a no-confidence vote, Balázs Jarábik analyses the collapse of the pro-EU coalition in Moldova and the accelerated deepening of the crisis in Europe’s poorest country.

The arrest of former prime minister Vlad Filat opens the Pandora’s box of corruption in the country. Over the past six years Moldova has undergone a sad decline, from being hailed as the “success story” of the Eastern Partnership to being called a “captured state” by the secretary general of the Council of Europe. The ‘pro-European’ reforms implemented in Moldova are now more and more widely believed to be a mere imitation of reform carried out in order to obtain political and financial support from the EU.

Filat’s arrest might have a positive impact if it strikes a blow against a culture of political impunity and silence about high-level corruption. More legal cases may follow that will involve officials outside of Filat’s circle and empower law enforcement and anti-corruption officials. The arrest should also be a signal for the EU that is time to end its policy of pretending that Moldova’s leaders are genuinely committed to pro-European reform and the fight against corruption.

The now-defunct nominally pro-European government fell victim to its own inability to fight corruption and modernize state institutions. There is a tangible prospect that the pro-Russian opposition will use popular revulsion to come to power and will fulfil its promise to stop Moldova’s cooperation with the EU. This is not likely to make life in Moldova any better.  The lesson is clear – instead of focusing on geopolitics, the EU should put the wish of Moldovans to live in a better country first.

The text is adapted from the original version published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.