The title of this memo—“Is a More Democratic Europe Good News for Post-Soviet States?”—may raise a few eyebrows. After all, how could the answer be anything but yes?! Such a quick and positive reply, however, misses a key fact. Democracy in Europe is no longer a purely domestic concern; increasingly, it operates at the regional level as well. If we focus on these regiona l dynamics, the “obvious” answer becomes less clear. Indeed, the democratization and constitutionalization of European institutions and especially of the European Union raise serious issues for the international community as it promotes the development of robust civil societies and law-governed administration in post-Soviet states.
This memo thus shifts the normal line of analysis. When thinking about the role of the EU and other European institutions in the former Soviet area, we typically ask how they can better promote democracy there. Instead, I explore how the democratization of the institutions themselves may affect their democracy promotion efforts in post-Soviet states. My bottom-line answer has two parts. For the Baltic states, such regional democratization dynamics will have little effect; for countries like Russia and Ukraine, however, the consequences are more serious, far-reaching, and quite likely negative. […]