A new EU report welcomes progress in implementing reforms in the Republic of Moldova, which it says has strengthened the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
The report was prepared jointly by the European External Action Service and the European Commission, to track Moldova’s progress in implementing reforms and the success of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, which are a vital element of the EU-Moldova Association Agreement.
In particular, the report highlights the impact that reforms have had on stabilising the country’s economic situation, alongside constant but conditional support from the EU and other international partners, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Growth registered in 2016-2017 had a positive impact on trade, the report emphasises.
This work has also strengthened the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, which includes Moldova, the EU, Georgia and Ukraine. However, the report also warns that there are a number of areas in which the country needs to implement further improvements, particularly related to a $1bn (~€816.8m) banking fraud incident that occurred in 2014.
What further steps does Moldova need to take?
The report argues that the country needs to step up its efforts to combat high-level corruption and fraud. In particular, the commission argues that more work is needed to recover the misappropriated funds from the 2014 banking fraud incident, and to bring to justice those responsible.
Additionally, the report is critical of changes Moldova made to its electoral system in July of last year, which were enacted against the recommendation of the Council of Europe. Despite the economic improvements Moldova has made and the positive impact this has had on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, the report insists that more progress is still needed.
How has the EU responded to the report?
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, explained that monitoring reforms was a vital element of the EU-Moldova Association Agreement.
She said: “We have a comprehensive agenda with the Republic of Moldova, working to improve our economic links, increase trade and therefore bring jobs, to strengthen democracy, human rights and support for civil society and its important role in keeping the government and the political leadership accountable.
Mogherini reiterated that while progress has been made, further efforts are needed: “Some reforms have recently advanced, in business and financial areas, for example, and further progress is needed in other areas, notably the fight against corruption and reforming the judiciary.”
The EU-Moldova Association Council will meet in Brussels, Belgium on 3 May to discuss the ongoing relationship between the country and the bloc, and the reforms the country is still to implement.