The European Union has played a crucial role in the process of democratic consolidation in new democracies in Eastern Europe. The promise of membership has encouraged political moderation. Efforts to meet the EU's membership criteria have significantly accelerated the modernization of institutions, the introduction of the rule of law, and the building of a transparent market economy. Even debates in candidate countries about the EU's "democratic deficit" have been helpful with regard to understanding democracy. However, the EU's role notwithstanding, internalizing democratic values values will take some time in societies deeply marked by decades of communist rule.