Moldova–European Union relations
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Relations between Moldova and the European Union (EU) are currently shaped via the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), an EU foreign policy instrument dealing with countries bordering its member states.
Moldova has strong ties to EU member state Romania. Indeed, during the interbellum the two countries were united. They share a common language, traditions and culture. The Moldovan flag is a modified version of the Romanian equivalent, with the Moldovan arms superimposed in its centre. Despite Moldovan nationalist tendencies and a sizable Russophone minority, the Romanians, whilst having no ongoing claim to Moldovan territory per se see Moldovans as culturally and ethnically Romanian. The former period of union enables Romanian passports and concurrent EU citizenship to be routinely granted to Moldovans on the basis of descent. A proportion of Moldovans currently nominate themselves as Romanian. (see below)
The Republic of Moldova actively pursues EU membership. The level of poverty in Moldova (the country is the poorest of potential EU members) is a stumbling block to accession. The Transnistrian dispute, a self-proclaimed breakaway republic backed by the Russian Federation government is also an obstacle.
Nevertheless, the EU is developing an increasingly close relationship with Moldova, going beyond cooperation, to gradual economic integration and a deepening of political cooperation. The EU has opened an office in Chişinău (the Moldovan capital), and appointed on 23 March 2005, a special representative, Adriaan Jacobovits de Szeged, to Moldova to focus on the resolution of the crisis in Transnistria. The European Commission opened up a new office in Moldova on 6 October 2005 headed by Cesare de Montis. The major strategic priority of Moldova now is membership in European institutions.
The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) represents the legal framework for the Republic of Moldova–European Union relationship. The Agreement was signed on 28 November 1994 and entered into force on 1 July 1998 for the next 10 years. This arrangement provides for a basis of cooperation with the EU in the political, commercial, economic, legal, cultural and scientific areas.
The EU Moldova Action Plan is a political document laying out the strategic objectives of cooperation between Moldova and the EU. It covers a timeframe of three years. Its implementation will help fulfill the provisions in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and will encourage and support Moldova’s objective of further integration into European economic and social structures. Implementation of the Action Plan will significantly advance the approximation of Moldovan legislation, norms and standards to those of the European Union.
Moldova and the EU began negotiating an Association Agreement (AA), including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, to replace the PCA in January 2010. The government of Moldova hoped to sign the AA in November 2013 at the Eastern Partnership summit, and in November 2012 EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle stated that negotiations could be completed by then. The AA was initialled at the summit, and signed on 27 June 2014. It must now be ratified by each state party to the treaty. The parliament of Moldova ratified the agreement on 2 July 2014.
On 24 January 2011 Moldova officially received an "action plan" toward the establishment of a visa-free regime for short-stay travel from the EU's Internal Affairs Commissioner. In November 2013, the Commission proposed that visa requirements for short-term visits be abolished for Moldovan citizens holding biometric passports, with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius suggesting the change could take place in early 2014. On 13 February 2014 the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs Committee approved lifting the visa requirements, and the full parliament voted in favour on 27 February 2014. The European Parliament and Council gave their final consent to visa free travel for Moldovan citizens on 3 April 2014, and the change become applicable on 28 April 2014.
The Republic of Moldova is actively pursuing EU membership. The unresolved territorial integrity issue of the breakaway republic of Transnistria is a major barrier to any progress. The European Parliament passed a resolution in 2014 stating that "in accordance with Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, as well as any other European country, have a European perspective and can apply for EU membership in compliance with the principles of democracy, respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights, minority rights and ensuring the rule of rights".
In April 2014, whilst visiting the Moldovan-Romanian border at Sculeni, Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca stated, "We have an ambitious target but I consider that we can reach it: doing everything possible for Moldova to become a full member of the European Union when Romania will hold the presidency of the EU in 2019".
Some political parties within both Moldova and Romania advocate merging the two countries. Such a scenario would incorporate the current territory of Moldova into Romania and thus into the EU, though the Transnistria problem would still be an issue. As regards Free Movement of Labour it could be argued that as far as individuals are concerned, Moldova is already a de facto member of the EU, since Moldovans will automatically gain a Romanian passport if they show that their ancestors were at one point Romanian (that is before the countries were split).
Delegations such as the one in Moldova exist all over the world. Altogether there are over 136.
The Delegation's mandate includes:
- Promotion of the political and economic relations between the countries of accreditation and the European Union;
- Monitoring the implementation of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCA) between the EU and Moldova;
- Informing the public of the development of the EU and to explain and defend individual EU policies;
- Participating in the implementation of the EU's external assistance programmes (mainly TACIS, FSP, ENP), focusing on the support of democratic development and good governance, regulatory reform and administrative capacity building, poverty reduction and economic growth.
Alliance For European Integration
In August 2009, four Moldovan political parties agreed to create a governing coalition called the Alliance For European Integration. The Liberal Democratic Party, Liberal Party, Democratic Party, and Our Moldova committed themselves to achieving European integration and promoting a balanced, consistent and responsible foreign policy.
On 2 February 2014, the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia held two referendums on European integration. In one, 98.4% voted in favour joining the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia, while in the second 97.2% opposed further integration with the EU. 98.9% also supported the proposition that Gagauzia could declare independence if Moldova unified with Romania. There is concern in Gagauzia that Moldova's integration with the EU could lead such a unification with EU member Romania, which is unpopular in the autonomous region.
- Moldova–European Union Association Agreement
- Moldova–Romania relations
- Enlargement of the European Union
- Future enlargement of the European Union
- Energy Community
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- europa.eu foreign relations Moldova-EU
- Delegation of the European Commission to Moldova site
- www.mfa.md - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova RM-EU relations page
- EU-Moldova Negotiations: what is to be discussed, what could be achieved? document