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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Remarks by President Barroso following his meeting with the Prime Minister of Moldova, Iurie Leancă
Joint press conference
Chișinău, 12 June 2014
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here in Chișinău with Prime Minister Iurie Leancă, two weeks after having met in Brussels in what was a first historic meeting between the Moldovan Government and the European Commission and two weeks before the long-awaited signature of the EU-Moldova Association Agreement, which foresees the establishment of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
So first of all, Prime Minister, let me thank you for your kind hospitality. Myself, Commissioner Füle, whom is here with me, and all my delegation appreciate it very much.
Allow me to repeat what I said in Brussels when I met Prime Minister Leancă: there is no doubt that Moldova is a European country. And Moldova's efforts to implement the European values make it an important partner for the EU and an Eastern Partnership front-runner.
As we come closer in our relationship, the benefits and opportunities from respecting the European values will become more visible - and more tangible.
The possibility for Moldovan citizens to travel now to the EU without having to request a visa is just one concrete example – but how important. This means that our people and our societies are now closer together. It means that our relationship with Moldova is not just political or diplomatic, not just for politicians or diplomats, but for the people. We want the Moldovan citizens to be closer to the European Union. I think this is has a great, not only symbolic, but a great meaning for the concrete lives of the citizens of Moldova. This is what our Association Agreement is about. It's not the kind of normal diplomatic document; it's much more than that. It's about economic integration and political association, but the goal is to bring the people closer.
We believe that this country – a country of so much hard working people – wants to build a better future, and that the citizens of Moldova, when they looked to societies in Western Europe and saw the progress of so many of our countries in recent years, they feel they are also entitled to have this progress.
What Moldovan citizens want is exactly what the European citizens want. They want to live in peace, they want prosperity, they want good conditions of life, good education for their children, good health conditions and to be sure that at the end of their lives they will have some guarantees in financial terms. This is what people of Moldova want.
And it's what all of us in the European Union want too. We believe that by becoming closer this can be attained easily. Also because the European Union has a very important market, which will be open to all companies of Moldova and will create more jobs. But also because the European Union can help. We have very important instruments of financial assistance. In case Moldova wants to continue in this path, in case Moldova wants to make these reforms, we can support that through these financial instruments. And that was what, for instance, we have discussed today with Prime Minister Leancă.
This is important, for instance regarding the Visa liberalisation. It shows that when the Moldovans fix an objective, establish it as a national priority and work together to achieve it, they can make it happen.
So, let me use this occasion to launch an appeal to a truly national cohesion around the reforms agenda. This is not just about politics, it's not about parties. Of course in a democracy we respect the different parties, but I would like to say this is more important than parties. It's about the future of a country. I believe it will be important to have the broadest support to this very important goal, from a strategic point of view. I believe this the best way – the only way – to secure a democratic and prosperous future for all the Moldovan citizens.
Moldova deserves indeed a bright future. To achieve it, the EU offers a genuine and comprehensive partnership, through the Association Agreement, placing the respect for fundamental values – fundamental rights and freedoms – at the core. So the agreement is a major instrument to support the transformation process in Moldova, which the Moldovans themselves want. I'm sure that the Moldovan citizens would like to live in peace, in freedom and they would like to live in a more prosperous country.
Let me share with you some of the effects of this agreement: it will strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law in Moldova and it will give Moldova a direct, cost-free access to the EU market.
The free trade area that is part of the Agreement will eliminate import duties, but in an asymmetrical manner more favourable to Moldova, this elimination will be immediate as regards the EU market, and gradually as regards the Moldovan market. Independent studies show that Moldovan exports will probably increase by 16%. Moldova's GDP will be boosted by an additional 5.4% in the medium term.
Thanks to this agreement, Moldovan citizens will be able to set up companies or company branches directly in the EU and companies will have direct access to the EU market. So even a small company of Moldova, provided it has a good product or a good service, can export directly to the European market without duties and they will also have access to the public procurement market. And there will be many opportunities for Moldovan companies to come to the European market.
But to recap the full benefits of this agreement reforms need to continue: to fight corruption, to strengthen the independence of the judiciary, to set up independent regulatory agencies. Of course this is a prerequisite for our cooperation, but I'm sure it's something that is also the aspiration for the Moldovan citizens. I'm sure the Moldovan citizens do not like corruption and they want to have an independent judiciary. And so it is in the interests of Moldova itself, even if we are considering that it is a condition also for us to develop further the relationship.
What I want to say to the Moldovan citizens is that in this efforts Moldova does not stand alone. Together with the Moldovan government, we have many instruments to assist the country in this process. We know that some of these reforms take time, and are difficult, but that's not a reason to postpone them, on the contrary. We should move forward.
The signing of these four financing agreements, just now by Prime Minister Leancă and myself is a clear sign of our commitment to Moldova. We will support the implementation of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (EUR 21 million), energy reform and energy efficiency (EUR 10 million), the use of biomass for energy generation (EUR 9.5 million) and to support to Economic Stimulation of Rural Areas (EUR 13 million).
So you see these are not the usual political promises. This is very concrete solidarity of the European Union, of the citizens of the European Union to the Moldovan citizens.
Overall this year Moldova will receive €131 million euros of assistance, including an exceptional programme of €30 million to help the government and companies prepare for the DCFTA and facilitate Moldova's integration in the EU market.
And I am pleased to announce that following Prime Minister Leancă's request (last 15 May in Brussels) the export quotas for some Moldovan fruits and vegetables will double. Once again a concrete manifestation of solidarity, following the measures we have already taken before to open our market to Moldovan wine.
Energy is also part of our relations. Let's be clear about it: nobody in this region has an interest in using energy supplies as a political weapon.
I therefore welcome the very good cooperation between 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.
Moldova has made stunning progress towards its European future. I believe in the European future of Moldova. I would like to congratulate you, Prime Minister, on your personal commitment to this agenda. I believe it's the patriotic decision to make.
But ultimately Moldova’s European choice is not a project of just a person, a government or a party, it needs to be embraced by the whole nation if it is to succeed.
A long journey begins with a small step. You have already given this step. The journey needs to be continued.
Thank you for your attention!