The EU remains attractive for Moldova but it is yet to become a default option for its citizens. A SAC-CEPI commissioned survey concludes that the vision of the EU model needs constant reinforcement as the country faces and ongoing influence of Russia amid the public dissatisfaction with the pro-EU government coalition.
Public support of the European Union (EU) and its policies has slightly eroded in Moldova on the heels of an increasing rivalry between the EU and the Russian-led Eurasian Custom Union (ECU).
According to the survey commissioned by the Slovak Atlantic Commission (SAC) and the Central European Policy Institute (CEPI) within the framework of the ‘Widening the European Dialogue in Moldova’ project, the Moldovans still find the EU an attractive option for the future of their country. However, it is not a default option yet. To many Moldovans, it is the ECU that represents a model that may potentially offer a quick-fix solution for stability, prosperity and security.
As a result, the public opinion is explicitly divided between the two regional power centres. Asked to choose between support for the EU or the ECU, a slight majority of the Moldovans (44%) preferred the EU over the ECU (40%).
This points to a significant shift from where Moldova was four years ago – a highly enthusiastic, pioneering and committed follower of the EU – to becoming a rather disillusioned recipient of the EU directives, where only a third of the respondents believe that the chosen direction is the right one to follow.
According to CEPI Senior Fellow Balázs Jarábik, one of the causes of the gradual erosion of public preferences for the EU during the past four years is dissatisfaction with the pro-European ruling coalition. Expectations of Moldovans from strengthening European integration efforts in 2009 were very high, but the lack of tangible progress has been coupled with economic hardship and high unemployment rates.
To reverse the decline of the pro-EU stance of the Moldovans, a continuous and positive reinforcement of the EU model and vision is needed to overcome the fear of uncertainty and negative anticipations.
The nation-wide representative survey was conducted in Moldova between October 19 and 7 November 2013. The survey was carried out by Professor Elena Korosteleva from the Global Europe Centre, University of Kent, in collaboration with the Independent Sociological and Information Service “Opinia”.
‘Widening the European Dialogue in Moldova’ is a project implemented by the Slovak Atlantic Commission (SAC) with the assistance of the Central European Policy Institute (CEPI) think-tank. The project has the ambition to contribute to the efforts aimed at increasing public support for EU integration in Moldova, particularly utilising Central Europe’s recent experience with the EU integration process. The project was financially supported by SlovakAid.