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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Remarks by President Barroso following the meeting between the European Commission and the Government of the Republic of Moldova
Brussels, 15 May 2014
First of all let me thank you very much for coming to Brussels, I believe it was a really important meeting, the one we had, but also the possibility to have a meeting between the government of Moldova and the European Commission, which is, in fact, to some extent the government of Europe.
Today's meeting is a testimony of the excellent quality of the EU-Moldovan relations and a concrete sign of our commitment to the Republic of Moldova, a modern, united and stable Moldova.
Today we have confirmed our joint willingness to opening up a new chapter of our bilateral relations by signing on 27 June the Association Agreement initialled in Vilnius end of last year.
This Association Agreement is about deepening democracy, improving governance, and ensuring the rule of law and ensuring also fundamental freedoms. It is a major instrument to support the transformation process in the Republic of Moldova.
The Agreement is also about transforming the economy, opening up markets, creating a better business environment and providing the economic means to build a prosperous future for all Moldovan citizens. And I repeat that all Moldovan citizens stand to gain from this agreement.
But we are not waiting for the signature of the Agreement to assist and support Moldova in its reform process. Only this year we have made available €131 million euros in technical assistance.
As recently as this month we have adopted an additional €30 million package to assist the Republic of Moldova in the preparation for the future deep and comprehensive free trade area foreseen by the Association Agreement. As from last September we have unilaterally granted full access for Moldovan wines to the European market. And I can announce today that I have informed Prime Minister Leancă that we respond positively to Moldova's request to increase their contingent on exports for some fruits and vegetables. We will now table a proposal to our Member States. I think this is a concrete sign of solidarity and I know that this is important namely for small farmers in Moldova.
And, as you just witnessed, the Prime Minister and I signed a financing agreement to support the Republic of Moldova's vocational and education training system worth €35 million.
Let me point out that Moldova has already made considerable progress in its reform agenda.
Today, we have agreed to continue the implementation of further essential reforms as set out in our joint action plan, in particular to fight corruption, enforce and modernise the justice system and improve the business and investment climate.
And I have congratulated the Prime Minister on a very important success – namely, the achievement of visa liberalisation. In very practical terms this means that Moldovans are the first among over 175 million citizens in the Eastern Partnership countries to travel to the EU without having to request a visa. This has considerable potential in terms of family, study and business contacts. This means a lot, I can tell you, for each citizen of Moldova, who for the first time can come to the European Union without any kind of visa, showing how close they are in fact to the European Union.
Energy was also part of our discussions. And I want to be clear: Nobody in this region has an interest in using energy supplies as a political weapon. That would only backfire.
I therefore welcome the very good cooperation between the Republic of Moldova and Romania on various common energy projects, notably their new gas interconnector, which the EU has supported as a priority. It will be finalized in the coming weeks and will give Moldova new alternatives, making its supplies more secure and extending the advantages of the European internal energy market.
No European nation should be an energy island – isolated from European networks. And the Republic of Moldova, as a member of the Energy Community, should be free to choose the same rights of access to the energy internal market if it so wishes.
We have also discussed the general situation in the region. Moldova is key to restore stability and to boost much-needed prosperity in this part of our continent.
A key partner for the European Union, Moldova is a free and sovereign country, able to make its own choices.
I have reiterated to Prime Minister Leancă the Commission's support for the Republic of Moldova's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We both have stressed the importance to advance negotiations in the so called 5+2 format towards a solution of the Transnistrian conflict that respects the territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova with a special status for Transnistria.
Thank you once again for a very useful, constructive and friendly meeting. We will be seeing each other often in the next few months. As part of our continued engagement I will be visiting Moldova in June where I will open an Investment Conference, precisely aimed at showing the potential of a reforms-oriented Moldovan economy.
And I hope to see you shortly afterwards in the June European Council for the final signature of the Association Agreement which will seal Moldova's European path.
It is a long walk but you are not walking alone.
And regarding the Association Agreement let me tell you that we see it not just as a very important Association Agreement, we see it not as the end of the road. I can say that the Association Agreement will not constitute the end goal in the EU-Moldova relations.
I want to tell you that we believe in the European perspective of Moldova.
Thank you for your attention!