Abstract The EU is one of the most prominent democracy promoters in the world today.

It has played an especially important role in the democratization of its Eastern European

member states. Given the acknowledged success and legitimacy of EU democracy

promotion in these countries, it could be expected that when they themselves began

promoting democracy, they would borrow from the EU’s democracy promotion model. Yet

this paper finds that the EU’s model has not played a defining role for the substantive

priorities of the Eastern European democracy promoters. They have instead borrowed from

their own democratization models practices that they understand to fit the needs of

recipients. This article not only adds to the literature on the Europeanization of member

state policies but also contributes both empirically and theoretically to the literature on the

foreign policy of democracy promotion. The article theorizes the factors shaping the

substance of democracy promotion-how important international ‘best practices’ are and

how they interact and compete with donor-level domestic models and recipient

democratization needs. Also, this study sheds light on the activities of little-studied

regional democracy promoters-the Eastern European members of the EU.