This paper argues that the balance between the size of EU incentives and the costs of democratic transformation has impeded democratic consolidation in Eastern ENP countries. Whereas the cost-benefit balance of norm adoption appears to be a relevant predictor of regime trajectories in this region, patterns of economic development do not match those of political regimes. Institutional design seems to fit better regime dynamics in Eastern ENP countries, but it is also possible that the nature of main political institutions depends on the regime. The road from institutions to the regime is a two-way road. Finally, the number of parties in power within executives does not say much about regime trajectories. The degree of a pro-European (Western) stance of the governing party or coalition must be incorporated into the analysis. To this end, a coalitional government that had a strong pro-EU identity proved to be a promising facilitator of external democracy promotion efforts.