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


English, Russian, French, Romanian


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 areas of focus include how the EU should adapt itself and its policies in light of the war in Ukraine, including the development of a ‘war economy’, as well as EU enlargement to the east and Europe’s relations with Russia.

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.

Russian and EU powers of attraction

Does the eastern neighbourhood want to join forces with Russia, be part of the EU or go it alone?

Moldova defies post-Soviet traditions

Moldova is the only CIS country with an uninterrupted cycle of legal and constitutional transfers of power through elections since 1991

Go east, Sweden

The Swedish presidency should tour the EU’s eastern periphery to ensure the region does not feel forgotten

Elections in Moldova. Again.

On 29 July Moldova will hold early parliamentary elections. Nicu Popescu offers a snapshot of the country two days before the elections

The end of ?de facto states?

Nicu Popescu comments on developments in Abkhazia and South Ossetia after their recognition by Russia

A Swedish-led listening tour of the East

The EU should start listening and involving the small and fragile states of the eastern neighbourhood, and the Swedish Presidency should be the body lead this “listening tour” charge

Reinvigorating the EU?s Eastern Policy

There will be dire consequences on the EU’s eastern border unless the EU rethinks its eastern neighbourhood strategy



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



In the media