The progress, constraints and priorities after seven years of implementation of the Association Agreement with the European Union
The Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE), in partnership with the National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in the Republic of Moldova, presented on Friday, 26 November 2021, during a public event, the main findings of the new Shadow Report “Seven years of implementation of the EU-Moldova Association Agreement: Progress. Constraints. Priorities”.
Further below we propose some of the key remarks of the speakers during the event, moderated by Iulian Groza, IPRE Executive Director.
His Excellency, Janis Mazeiks, Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Moldova: “The last years the EU-Moldova relations have been marked by some historical developments. The Association Agreement had two important fundamental landmarks – the liberalization of the visa regime and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, which have brought several benefits to the citizens of the Republic of Moldova in these seven years. For several years, Brussels has supported the implementation of fundamental reforms in the Republic of Moldova that will contribute to a prosperous and democratic future for its citizens. In particular, the implementation of the justice sector reform and the fight against corruption at all levels have been repeatedly requested by the EU. Moreover, we expect that the investigation into the bank fraud to continue, so that the real criminals would be brought to justice and the assets would be recovered as soon as possible. In terms of criminal prosecution, this remains a test, a benchmark, which affects the reputation of the Republic of Moldova internationally. The European Union remains committed to cooperation with the Republic of Moldova, focused on reforms, and I believe that it will bring tangible benefits to citizens.”
Vladimir Cuc, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration: “We are in an intense period of relaunching our dialogue with the European Union. We are now working on finalizing the new EU-Moldova Association Agenda and in our approaches, we are certainly guided by current trends taking place within the EU, such as digitization processes and environmental policy. EU assistance remains a crucial aspect in the reform process in the Republic of Moldova, in order to maintain macro-financial stability, but also in support of concrete sectoral reforms. In the Eastern Partnership context, we are now negotiating the declaration and we hope that the upcoming Summit will be truly successful, both at the political level and in sectoral cooperation.”
Vadim Gumene, State Secretary, Ministry of Economy: “Today’s discussion is very important, as in December we will organize the next EU-Moldova Association Committee in the trade configuration, where we will review the achievements of the Republic of Moldova. As a priority objective, the Ministry of Economy has established the implementation of the commitments undertaken within the DCFTA, including those related to internal trade, in order to further capitalize on the potential of the Association Agreement. Here, too, I mean the alignment with European standards, the possibility to export products of animal origin, but also the achievement of a synergy between all the institutions responsible for the implementation of the DCFTA. We certainly have some shortcomings, but with the support of development partners, including the EU, we will move the process forward.”
Adrian Lupușor, Executive Director of Expert-Group, Facilitator of the National Platform of the EaP CSF: “We noticed that the Association Agreement brought benefits, both in terms of exports and economic growth. Obviously, the implementation process of the Agreement is also an anchor for other reforms, especially those related to governance. We have seen in recent years that the frequency of shocks has increased, and crises have practically become a new reality and we need to prevent these problems in the future, and the framework for cooperation with the EU is extremely important. I would like to emphasize that the Europeanization process of the Republic of Moldova depends very much on civil society. In this regard, we will soon publish a plan of priorities, which we hope will serve as a basis for continuing the dialogue with the Government as well as with the EU, in order to advance the process of implementing the Association Agreement”.
Sanda Sandu, Program Coordinator, Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS): “One of the objectives of KAS is certainly to support the path of Europeanization and European integration of the Republic of Moldova, but also to ensure the implementation of the Association Agreement. We have supported civil society and our partners in the implementation of projects, aiming to advance cooperation within the Eastern Partnership and to strengthen research capacities. I think that the findings of the Report on the higher qualitative progress of the implementation of the Association Agreement are a good indicator. We also support more advanced security cooperation, police cooperation with the EU and encourage efforts to fight corruption, ensure justice and combat money laundering.
Iulian Groza, IPRE Executive Director: “During the seventh year of implementation of the EU-Moldova Association Agreement, there is higher qualitative progress in those areas and sectors covered by the EU-Moldova Association Agreement, which have been conditioned on the budget support and macro-financial assistance programs provided by the EU. Also, in 2021, citizens’ trust in the European Union has increased. Over 57% of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova opt for the accession of the Republic of Moldova to the European Union. However, political instability has continued over the past year. There have been several political processes, which has affected the efficiency of the authorities. There have been other crises, including the one related to the pandemic. On the political side of the Agreement, this year we noticed a reactivation of the political dialogue between the EU and the Republic of Moldova, which was visible after the presidential elections and after the appointment of a new Government”.
Stanislav Ghilețchi, Deputy Executive Director, IPRE: “In the field of public administration reform, the main delay is the postponement of the implementation of the territorial-administrative reform. The Government Action Plan for 2021-2022 does not provide for such a policy measure. In this context, civil society representatives and development partners should encourage national authorities to initiate local government reform in the near term, until the next local elections in 2023. In the field of public finances, in April 2021 the authorities issued, in for the first time, seven-year government bonds at an annual fixed interest rate of 6.5%. Up to this stage, bonds with a duration of between two and five years have been issued. Increasing the duration of government bonds should provide more flexibility for authorities. In the energy sector, in September 2021, NARE approved the certification of the natural gas transmission system operator LLC “Vestmoldtransgaz”, and starting with October 2021 it was operationalized to the Iasi-Ungheni-Chisinau Gas Pipeline. At the same time, the implementation of the III Energy Package in the field of natural gas and electricity has not been completed. This represented a high degree of vulnerability of the Republic of Moldova in the context of the natural gas crisis of October 2021”.
The video recording of the public event for the presentation of the Shadow Report can be watched here.
The IPRE Shadow report was prepared within the IPRE Project “Monitoring the implementation of the Association Agreement between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union”, implemented with support of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS).