Experts & Staff

Nicu Popescu

Distinguished policy fellow

Areas of expertise

Russian domestic and foreign policies. Eastern Partnership countries and their relations with the EU, post-Soviet conflicts, cybersecurity

Languages

English, Russian, French, Romanian

Biography

Nicu Popescu is a distinguished policy fellow of the European Power programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations, based in the Paris office. His topics of focus include the European Union’s relations with Russia and the Eastern Partnership countries.

Popescu served as Moldova’s deputy prime-minister and minister for foreign affairs and European integration between August 2021 and January 2024, and foreign minister between June and November 2019. In his second mandate, he managed the country’s foreign policy in the extremely tense regional environment shaped by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Under the leadership of President Maia Sandu, he steered efforts to build wide-ranging international support for Moldova’s aims to maintain peace and stability. He helped mobilise international attention to Moldova and concrete support for the country’s efforts to overcome the negative consequences of the war in the security, humanitarian, energy, and economic spheres.

As deputy prime minister, he was lead coordinator of the EU accession process. Under his mandate, Moldova applied for EU membership, obtained EU candidate status (2022), and the European Council approved the start of its EU accession talks (2023). In this period Moldova had been widely applauded for its reform record, having most successfully implemented the EU acquis among all candidate countries (2023).

Popescu previously worked as director of the Wider Europe programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations (2011-2012, 2018-2019, and 2020-2021), senior analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris (2013-2018), senior advisor on foreign policy and EU affairs for the prime-minister of Moldova (2010, and 2012-2013), and research fellow at ECFR in London (2007-2009) and at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels (2005-2007).

Popescu has been associate professor at Sciences Po Paris since 2016. He also taught at the University of Barcelona (IELPO). He holds a PhD in International Relations from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. He has authored and co-edited several books and

over 60 policy papers, book chapters and academic articles, including authoring  EU foreign policy and post-Soviet conflicts: stealth intervention (Routledge 2010), and co-editing  Russia Rising: Putin’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East and North Africa (with Dimitar Bechev and Stanislav Secrieru, I.B. Tauris 2021) and Democratization in EU Foreign Policy (with Benedetta Berti and Kristina Mikulova, Routledge 2015).

He has been decorated by Maia Sandu, President of Moldova, with Moldova’s highest order – The Order of the Republic.

Belarus and Armenia: How Russia handles uprisings

Russia’s goal in its neighbourhood is to regain influence, not to be surrounded by neutral, self-sufficient buffer states

Russia showed Turkey and China how to bully the EU

The more meekly the EU handles other powers’ aggressive tactics, the more they will be tempted to imitate each other in novel ways to ignore, challenge, and openly attack European interests

How the coronavirus threatens a geopolitical Europe

After the crisis, the EU will face the same geopolitical problems it did before. But, this time, it might need to tackle them with less internal solidarity and external credibility.  

Publications

Articles

A digital agenda for the Eastern Partnership

By reforming the Eastern Partnership, the EU can capitalise on the huge opportunities for economic and social development created by digitalisation

How Russia and the West try to weaken each other

The West and Russia are both worse off for their efforts to try to weaken each other. This competition will only end when one side feels it is losing the race.

Podcasts

Events

In the media