With extensive support from the European Union, the Republic of Moldova has adopted a number of reforms in implementing the Association Agenda, but needs to undertake further efforts, in particular to improve the rule of law and the business environment. The details are highlighted in a joint report, released today by the European External Action Service and the European Commission ahead of the EU-Moldova Association Council on 31 March 2017.
"The European Union and the Republic of Moldova have a strong relationship, reinforced through our joint Association Agreement that entered into force nine months ago", said the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini i. "The Agreement has intensified our partnership, increasing our cooperation in some areas and consolidating it in others. The Association Agenda details commitments undertaken by the Moldovan authorities, including fighting against corruption, improving the independence of the judiciary, de-politicising state institutions, and investigating the banking fraud. Progress has been made - this is detailed in today's report. Further work is needed, and on this path Moldova can count on the European Union, on our common work, for the sake of our citizens."
"We are already seeing some positive first results from Moldova implementing the Association Agreement but more needs to be done”, said the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn i. "Since the EU-Moldova Association Agreement was signed, the EU has consolidated its position as Moldova's main trading partner and the EU's assistance is aiming to create jobs and improve living conditions in the country. Additional opportunities have been created for Moldovan citizens and businesses through our partnership. In particular, Moldovan citizens enjoy short-stay travel to the Schengen i area without the need for a visa, and they have been participating in great numbers in European Union programmes such as Erasmus i+. With further progress in implementing reforms undertaken as part of its Association Agenda, I look forward to seeing more success stories in our relationship."
The joint report assesses the state of play of Moldova's implementation of the Association Agenda since November 2014. It focuses on key developments and reforms undertaken in line with the strategic priorities agreed between the European Union and Moldova. According to the report, Moldova has adopted a number of reforms, which aim to restore the independence of the judiciary and tackle corruption, make the public administration more efficient, restore macro-economic stability, and approximate legislation on electricity and natural gas with EU laws, as well as other key areas of the EU-Moldova Association Agreement, which fully entered into force on 1 July 2016. However, Moldova's consolidation of its democracy and rule of law requires further reform efforts. Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms requires greater attention, in part due to weaknesses in the justice system. Perceived political interference in the judiciary and law enforcement is a systemic impediment to social and economic development.
On economic development, crucial reforms were adopted to restore macro-financial stability following the massive banking fraud. However, investigations still need to be carried out to bring all those responsible for the banking fraud to justice, and the business and investment climate remains negatively affected by wide-spread corruption and inconsistent policies. Ongoing consolidation of economic interests in the hands of fewer people also creates interference risks for public policy.
On trade, the report underlines the benefits brought to the EU and Moldova since 2014. The EU has consolidated its position as Moldova's main trading partner, with 63% of Moldovan exports going to the EU, and around 50% of Moldovan imports coming from the EU. In 2016, Moldova made significant efforts to align with EU regulations and standards.
A number of achievements are detailed in the report, with several key projects, assisted by the European Union, completed in 2015-2016. New infrastructure to supply drinking water has been built in several municipalities, providing safe drinking water to more than 15,000 people; improvements were made to the public transport systems in Chisinau and Balti; biomass heating systems have been installed in 225 public buildings, for example in schools and village halls, creating better and cheaper heating systems. In addition, the report positively assesses the implementation of the visa-free regime and the readmission agreement between the European Union and Moldova. It also details the contribution of Moldova to EU military and civilian operations, strengthening the EU's role as a global security provider and increasing the resilience of countries worldwide.
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