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 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.

Bulgaria’s Electoral Adventurism

Bulgaria’s president has campaigned for the Communist party, while MPs think that European states should learn from Azeri electoral practices

The Eastern Partnership in crisis

What is the likely impact of the crisis on the Eastern Partnership, the attempt to resuscitate the European neighbourhood policy and focus EU’s political attention on the East?

The return of “Eastern Europe”

The term “Eastern Europe” suggests a new division of Europe. But it also highlights how integrated and interdependent Europe has become.

Ukraine’s collapse

What are the likely consequences of an economic and political collapse in Ukraine? Nicu Popescu explains

Moldova?s elections

Nicu Popescu discusses what is at stake in Moldova’s April 5 elections

Winning the peace in Georgia

The EU’s frenetic diplomacy around the conflict is in stark contrast with its reluctance to engage just a few months ago

EU-Russia: avoiding new failures

The biannual EU-Russia summit begins on 26 June in Siberia. Can the EU take advantage of the opportunity to restart the relationship, or will it fall victim to the divisions that have plagued it in the past?



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.



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