Against the backdrop of Russia’s war against Ukraine, MEPs call on the EU to provide more strategic support to Moldova following its application for EU membership.
On Thursday, the Foreign Affairs Committee adopted its annual implementing report on the EU association agreement with Moldova, with 65 votes in favour, 5 against and 3 abstentions.
In addition to a worsening security landscape, the text recognises that the Russian war against Ukraine has disproportionally affected neighbouring Moldova. Its economy has been impacted by lost import and export opportunities and rapidly increasing energy prices. Moldova has also taken in the largest number of Ukrainian refugees per capita of any country, putting its public services under enormous strain.
Triggered by the Russian invasion, Moldova’s official application on 3 March to join the European Union was welcomed by MEPs, as it ‘confirms the country’s European path’. They call on the EU institutions to work towards granting EU candidate status to Moldova, along with Ukraine and Georgia, in line with Article 49 TEU and ‘on the basis of merit’. In the meantime, the European Union and Moldova should continue work on integrating the country into the EU single market.
The European Commission, for its part, must assist Moldova in preparing a credible pre-accession strategy for EU membership. MEPs also point out the need for more strategic EU support to Moldova, for example by setting up a new Commission Support Group for the country, similar to the existing one for Ukraine.
Push ahead with key reforms
The report further stresses that the EU membership applications of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia open a new chapter in their European integration, which should be characterised by reinforced efforts to implement the existing Association Agreements and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas.
While welcoming the initial progress of the current government’s ambitious reform agenda, MEPs strongly encourage the Moldovan authorities to work on irreversibly aligning the country with the EU. This includes advancing reforms in the field of justice and rule of law as well as fighting corruption and oligarchic structures.
The text also emphasises the need for the government to continue improving the livelihoods and living standards of Moldovan citizens, in order to prevent the ongoing ‘brain drain’, and restoring people’s trust in state institutions.
Finally, MEPs reject and express concern regarding the 3 March 2022 statement of the authorities in the occupied Transnistria region of Moldova that announced an end of the settlement process and made a renewed call for international recognition for the so-called independence of Transnistria. They reiterate their support for a comprehensive and peaceful settlement of the Transnistria conflict, based on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova.
“The Republic of Moldova had already made a clear commitment to a European path and European values and reconfirmed its choices now in times of war and hardship. It is therefore a geopolitical priority to grant EU candidate status to the Republic of Moldova and consolidate democracy in our eastern neighbourhood”, said rapporteur Dragoș Tudorache (Renew Europe, Romania).
The report will now be submitted for a vote in the European Parliament as a whole.
A delegation of MEPs visited the country from 31 March to 2 April. They met with Moldova’s political leadership, including President Maia Sandu, Speaker of the Parliament Igor Grosu, Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița, and Defence Minister Anatolie Nosatîi. Read more about the visit here.