Brussels, 26 November 2009
Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner visits the Republic of Moldova to invigorate relations
Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner will pay an official visit to the Republic of Moldova (hereafter “Moldova”) from 26-27 November. During her stay she will have meetings with Acting President and Speaker of the Parliament Mihai Ghimpu, Prime Minister Vlad Filat, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Iurie Leanca, as well as presidential candidate Marian Lupu and members of the opposition and with civil society representatives. Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner will deliver a speech in the Parliament of Moldova and visit a children's village established by "Concordia" an organisation founded by Father Georg Sporschill. This is the first visit by a Commissioner since the elections in July 2009 and is an important sign of the Commission's support for Moldova on its path towards political and economic stability. In her meetings Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner will emphasise the need for Moldova to continue efforts for the effective implementation of economic and political reforms and to fully cooperate with the international financial institutions. The Commissioner will express the EU's intention to accelerate the development of the EU relationship with Moldova, making full use of the opportunities of the Eastern Partnership including the launch in January of negotiations for a new contractual agreement with Moldova to replace the current Partnership and Co operation Agreement, and the promise of continued financial assistance to help the country cope with the financial and economic crisis in the country. She will equally express the EU's continuing engagement in the Transnistrian settlement efforts.
Before her departure for Chisinau Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner underlined: “I am delighted that the new government has made closer relations with the EU central to its programme. I hope that all parties in Moldova will work now to put an end to political instability so that the country can focus on tackling its important challenges. The EU can help the Republic of Moldova build for its future, and we are ready to step up our cooperation to unleash the full potential of our relationship. Another chapter in our relations will open in January with the negotiations on a New Agreement that will replace and go further than our current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. I am certain that the agreement will bring tangible benefits to Moldovan and EU citizens"
Commenting on the Eastern Partnership, Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner stated: " It is good to see the Republic Moldova back playing an active part in the Eastern Partnership and I am delighted that the new authorities intend using all the many opportunities that this new initiative offers. In our bilateral relationship and in the multilateral activities of the Eastern Partnership the Republic of Moldova has much to gain, that will help the country move closer to the EU - and a great deal to contribute too".
The Republic of Moldova (hereafter “Moldova”) and the EU first established contractual relations in 1994 through a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) which entered into force in 1998.
This PCA sets a framework for trade liberalisation, legislative harmonisation and cooperation in a range of sectors and political dialogue. Negotiations between Moldova and the EU on a new Agreement that will replace and go beyond the PCA will start in January. This new Agreement will further strengthen EU-Moldova relations and offer many opportunities as regards political and economic integration. It will be a comprehensive agreement reflecting the existing wide range of cooperation in economic and political areas and will develop these areas further. It should also include the aim to establish a deep and comprehensive Free Trade Area with the EU when the right conditions are met.
Moldova is a partner country within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP):
-T he EU-Moldova ENP Action Plan was adopted in February 2005 for a period of three years and prolonged by mutual agreement beyond February 2008. It is based on the Partnership & Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and encourages and supports Moldova’s objective of further integration into European economic and social structures. Furthermore, it represents a useful tool for giving impetus to Moldova's own programme of democratic and economic reforms.
Moldova is one of six participants in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) launched in May 2009:
-As the Eastern dimension of the ENP, the EaP brings countries in Eastern Europe and Southern Caucasus, EU Member States and institutions together to promote security, stability and prosperity. It provides additional support for reforms and modernisation efforts in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to bring them closer to EU principles and practices.
-The EaP offers partner countries the prospect for deeper bilateral engagement covering further integration into the EU economy, mobility including visa facilitation and cooperation on energy security. The ENP Action Plans are the main instruments to set up the bilateral relations.
-The EaP also offers a multilateral track providing a new framework where common challenges can be addressed through policy discussion and the sharing of experience in dedicated platforms. Moldova has so far actively participated in the meetings of the four cooperation platforms set up under the multilateral track: democracy, good governance and stability; economic integration and convergence with EU policies; energy security; and contacts between people.
-Within the multilateral framework of the EaP Moldova also has the opportunity to participate in the five high profile initiatives (flagship initiatives) in the following areas: border management programme; integration of electricity markets, energy efficiency and renewables; an SME facility; Southern corridor; and response to natural and man-made disasters.
-Within the EaP framework, a Civil Society Forum (CSF) was set up to provide policy recommendations to the EaP Ministers in their respective areas of responsibility.
Other elements of EU-Moldova relations:
-In 2009, Moldova and the European Commission concluded technical negotiations on the country’s accession to the Energy Community Treaty (ECT), which includes commitments for gradual convergence with the internal energy market rules. A decision on Moldova’s full membership in the Energy Community could be taken on the ECT Ministerial meeting on 18 December.
-On 1 January 2008 a Visa Facilitation Agreement and a Readmission Agreement between the EU and Moldova entered into force.
-In June 2008 a Mobility Partnership was launched between the EU and Moldova. It was one of the two pilot countries chosen to test this new sort of initiative meant to better manage migration flows, and in particular to fight illegal migration, in partnership with the EU, in exchange for enhanced possibilities of mobility between Moldova and the EU for its citizens, in terms of legal migration opportunities and of short term movements (short stay visa issues).
-Since 1 March 2008 there is a system of Autonomous Trade Preferences (ATP) which means that the EU lifts trade tariffs for nearly all Moldovan products except those clearly specified in the ATP regulation, for which only a quota is tariff-free. The EU is Moldova´s most important trading partner with a share of almost 50% in total bilateral trade.
-The EU is strongly engaged in the Transnistria settlement efforts and fully supports the Government of Moldova on confidence-building measures between Chisinau and Tiraspol. The Commission provides expert advice and, where appropriate, financial assistance for confidence-building measures.
-The European Commission Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) has been in place since December 2005. It aims at strengthening transparent border management and customs procedures in line with European standards along the whole Moldovan-Ukrainian border. EUBAM experts also provide advice and support to strengthen the fight against organised crime, including smuggling and trafficking, and the fight against corruption.
-For the period 2007-2010 Moldova received EC financial assistance of close to €230 million. This is the highest per capita allocation in the Eastern Neighbourhood. This amount should increase significantly in the next programming period (2011-2013). In view of the current financial and economic crisis, the Commission has increased and accelerated disbursement of its budget sector support to Moldova. The EU is also planning to support Moldova further with substantial Macro-financial Assistance to complement a new agreement with the IMF.
After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Father Georg Sporschill SJ, an Austrian Jesuit, was sent to Romania with the goal of helping homeless children in the country. His initiative has grown into a community with more than one thousand members in 2006.
The objective of “Concordia” is to provide security and education to homeless children.
Father Sporschill has been active in Moldova since 2004. The Commissioner will visit the “City of Children” in Pirita which offers 300 places to children.