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Štefan Füle

European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

Implemented reforms and developments in the Republic of Moldova

European Parliament - Plenary Debate

Strasbourg, 21 October 2010

Honourable Members,

When looking at EU-Moldova relations, I believe that we have achieved a lot of progress in record time. But domestically the country still faces many challenges.

The referendum of 5 September was meant to resolve the political deadlock by changing the rules for electing the President. It failed; this is regrettable.

Nevertheless the fact that the referendum was conducted in accordance with democratic standards has been an encouraging sign.

The elections of 28 November are now vital for the consolidation of democracy in the country and should be seen as a test of sustainability of the reform process. We will continue sending firm messages in that respect to all stakeholders. Thereafter, all political forces will have to work together, both to elect a President and to choose a government capable of taking the country through a critical reform path.

At the same time, we will sustain our unwavering support to the structural reforms conducted by the Moldovan government. Let me highlight a few important aspects:

The European Union is the largest donor to Moldova by far. But in March we also succeeded in mobilising over forty donors to support Moldova’s reforms. They pledged an impressive €1.9 billion for the years 2010-2013, including our own €550 million commitment.

Over the last months, we have timely responded to a number of specific needs of the government, providing high-level policy advice to ministers; supporting democratisation efforts in rule-of-law related areas; helping organise the electoral consultations; addressing emergency needs after last summer’s floods; and improving possibilities for Moldovan wine exports. Alongside the Moldovan government, we have actively engaged with the population living in the Transnistrian region, via small-scale projects, mostly in the social area. Next year, we will start implementing the Comprehensive Institution Building programme under the Eastern Partnership.

This programme will help Moldova prepare for, and implement, the Association Agreement that we are currently negotiating. The latest round of negotiations in Chisinau on 13 and 14 October demonstrated yet again that these negotiations progress at a very good speed.

Our assistance has also taken the form of direct transfers to the Moldovan budget. Since the last quarter of 2009, €37 million have been transferred, with an additional €15 million to come soon. Out of this, about €8.5 million went to help the poorest layers of the population, through targeted social assistance and income support. The rest went to support reform of the water supply system; this has also had a direct impact on the lives of the citizens. And now that President Buzek has signed the relevant legislative decision, we expect to transfer soon the €40 million of the first tranche of macro-financial assistance. The Commission will of course closely monitor the fulfilment by Moldova of the conditions established in the context of this macro-financial assistance.

In the same spirit, we will carry on our busy schedule of political contacts and technical exchanges. In a few days, I will meet with Prime Minister Filat, in Luxembourg. In November, the EU-Moldova trade sub-committee will examine Moldova’s response to the Commission’s ‘key recommendations’ in view of preparing negotiations on a deep and comprehensive free trade area. Additionally, we have engaged with Moldova in a dedicated Dialogue on Human Rights, in an Energy dialogue, and are negotiating an aviation services agreement.

We have actively followed up on the visa dialogue, launched in June. On next Monday, drawing on the outcome of the fact-finding missions conducted in September by independent experts, the Foreign Affairs Council is expected to release conclusions that should address this issue.

Closing remarks

Honourable Members,

The Republic of Moldova is at a turning point in its history. The European Commission has been active in helping the Moldovan government achieve as much as possible of its ambitious reform programme over the last year. The reforms that we support reflect, without any exception, the broad range of objectives of the EU-Moldova Action Plan. The success of these reforms is crucial for the future of the Republic of Moldova and its people.

On many occasions, not the least on 30 September when the so-called “Group of Friends” visited Chisinau, we have expressed our support to the vision of a modern and prosperous Moldova, with its society reconciled and its territorial integrity restored. There is no doubt that Europe’s history has a lesson to offer here.

The Republic of Moldova is on a positive trajectory. I am confident that the country will be able to reach the political compromise necessary to sustain the commitment to reforms and to overcome the polarization of its society. For our part, and to the extent possible, we will continue to stand by Moldova’s citizens and provide the necessary external support to reforms. The Commission will of course continue to keep the Parliament informed on those matters.

Thank you.

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