The EaP policy has generated a number of important results for Moldova. The signing of the Association Agreement in 2014, complemented by the implementation of the visa free regime and liberalization of exports towards the EU market, have greatly benefited the Moldovan economy and society.
1.1. Together for resilient, sustainable and integrated economies
1.2. Together for accountable institutions, the rule of law and security
1.3. Together towards environmental and climate resilience
1.4. Together for a resilient digital transformation
1.5. Together for resilient, fair and inclusive societies
Thematic Summary of implementation of 5 key EaP priorities across the region.
Analysis for other states:
Current perception of EaP policy in the Republic of Moldova
The EaP policy has generated a number of important results for Moldova. The signing of the Association Agreement in 2014, complemented by the implementation of the visa free regime and liberalization of exports towards the EU market, have greatly benefited the Moldovan economy and society. The sectoral programs developed by the EU in the field of energy, digitalization or business, provided financial mechanisms for public actors, local entities, entrepreneurs, civil society and journalists. These comprehensive achievements facilitated Moldova’s path towards implementation of the key reforms and harmonization of the legal framework in line with EU acquis.
In the context of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and following the granting of the EU candidate status to Moldova and Ukraine on the 23rd of June 2022, the perception of EaP policy in Moldova has facedan important shift. The Eastern Partnership format is no longer perceived as being sustainable and capable to move forward the cooperation between the six member countries, especially on the multilateral track. Given the clear belligerence of Belarus against Ukraine and offensive rhetoric towards Moldova, the format itself is currently ineffective to generate mutual benefits for the participating countries.
Although the EaP policy delivered a number of sizable results and benefits for Moldova in the last 13 years, its importance after June 2022 is less relevant for the candidate countries. After receiving the EU candidate status, Moldova and Ukraine are supposed to become subjects of the EU’s enlargement policy, which is accompanied by the new financial and technical cooperation instruments. Access to the instrument of pre-accession funds in the following years in case of Moldova and Ukraine will generate more ambiguity within the Eastern Partnership, given the different budgetary instruments developed for candidate and non-candidate countries.
It is still unclear how the EU will accommodate the transition of these countries towards the new budgetary instruments and dialogue formats. However, one could expect that this transition will lead to the rethinking of the EaP initiatives and programs for the participating countries and reevaluation of its core priorities.
The Republic of Moldova’s vision of the updated EaP policy
A set of recommendations for the fine-tuning of the core objectives and format of EaP policy must be taken into consideration:
- The EU should consider the reformation of EaP policy multilateral track and development of a separate cooperation platform for Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia, focused on exchange of good practices and experience on the EU accession path. Such a platform could be established after the upgrading of the Associated Trio towards theCandidate Trio platform and its formal institutionalization by the EU.
- Assist the candidate countries in the process of implementation of conditions for opening the negotiations talks by identifying potential areas of immediate budgetary and technical support.
- Scale up the financial support for the national platforms of theEaP Civil Society Forum and facilitate their participation in the monitoring and evaluation of governments’ progress with the implementation of key actions for opening the negotiation talks.
- Speed up the inclusion of the candidate countries into the framework of the instrument for pre-accession funds and establish direct budgetary support programs in line with the core benchmarks for the opening and running the accession talks.
- Consolidate its security dialogue with Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia through a shared framework of experience, knowledge, best practices and capabilities. EU should expand the direct budgetary support for defence as part of the European Peace Facility, aimed at strengthening the capacities of the strategic planning, operational, communication and cyber policies of the candidate countries.
- Initiate talks with defence and intelligence institutions in the candidate countries in order to support their active participation in the PESCO projects of significant interest for each individual state.
- Enforce cooperation with the candidate countries in the field of fight against corruption, financial crimes and asset recovery. Consolidate the dialogue between the European Public Prosecutor Office (EPPO) and fraud investigation bodiesin order to actively investigate the financial irregulationswiththe EU money in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. Facilitate the exchange of investigative operational information between the national and EU institutions (OLAF and EPPO).
- Enable the full liberalization of trade and elimination of tariff quotas for key agricultural exports, such as apples, plums or grapes fromMoldova. This will help to offset the inaccessible markets in Russia and Belarus and prevent the bankruptcy of a significantnumber of farmers, but also small and medium enterprises.
- Ensure full and smooth integration of the candidate countries in the EU’s Energy Union. Speed-up the construction of the energy grid connection with Moldova, which is now scheduled to be finalised by 2024.