Monday, June 14, 2010
Štefan Füle: Speech on EU-Moldova relations
Brussels, 9 June 2010
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to join you for a broad exchange of views on the current issues of EU-Moldova relations. Our session is particularly timely ahead of the Cooperation Council scheduled for 15 June, and a few days after Moldova’s ruling coalition has announced its plans to put an end to the constitutional crisis. To respect our time constraints and in view of the remarks by other speakers and the subsequent discussion, I will limit my remarks to some key elements.
This event is organized to mark one year since the Pro–European shift in Moldova. As a matter of fact, in 2009, EU-Moldova relations went through a serious test due to difficult political environment following the spring elections. The new Government has set a very ambitious reform agenda clearly reflecting Moldova’s European aspirations and commitment to the goals of political association and economic integration with the EU.
In this context, five months ago, we have started negotiations on our new contractual relation, the future Association Agreement that should be far more ambitious than the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. I have to say we are moving very fast forward in these negotiations. This does not mean that any of the sides has decided to give away its positions for the sake of speed. On the contrary, I am amazed by the density of the discussions that we manage to have on all matters. I encourage the successful continuation of these talks and due implementation of the commitments.
I am glad that we could field last week a full-fledged fact-finding mission which is an important milestone towards a deep and comprehensive free trade area, or as I prefer to call it, towards a deeper economic integration. I now expect the many Commission services involved in this assessment exercise to come up with so called ‘key recommendations’ for Moldova to address before negotiations on a DCFTA can be launched.
As regards mobility, evidently, visa-free travel is a key objective of our relations, in the framework of the Eastern Partnership. We have prepared ground for the Cooperation Council to open our visa dialogue and I am very pleased, Minister [Leanca], that you will attend its first session. This visa dialogue will allow us to examine together in a structured manner the conditions for visa-free travel of Moldovan citizens to the European Union. Moreover, in the regional context, this approach applied in the case of Moldova could serve as a model for other Eastern Partnership countries bearing in mind the specificity and progress of each country.
Furthermore, let me reaffirm EU's readiness to support Moldova in implementing structural reforms. As a matter of fact, extensive financial and technical support has always underpinned our cooperation. Between 1991 and 2009, the EU provided more than €270 million euros to Moldova. This assistance has contributed to many reforms, for instance in social assistance, healthcare and water sanitation. It has also helped modernise Moldovan enterprises and promote their exports. Besides, a team of highly-experienced advisers was deployed in April to assist the Moldovan Government carrying out its reform agenda.
In March this year, we hosted a donors’ conference on Moldova. Over forty donors that participated in the conference pledged an impressive €1.9 billion euros for the period 2010-2013. This was more than expected. We the EU scaled up our own support and pledged €550 million euros. This makes Moldova the front runner in EU assistance in this part of the world. I am proud to say that this pledge will materialise in a few weeks, with a €45 million programme to foster economic activity outside Moldova’s urban areas. An upfront payment of €15 million euros to the Moldovan budget will follow shortly to support these regional development efforts.
No one will contest the place of our macro-financial assistance in that context. The Commission’s legislative proposal for a €90 million euros package was submitted today to the European Parliament. It is important that we all work together to get it approved by the Parliament and the Council as soon as possible.
Rightly so, these developments demonstrate the confidence of the European Union in Moldova’s commitment to the process of European integration and to the development of its democratic culture, as illustrated in the ‘Rethink Moldova’ document produced by the Moldovan Government. For the immediate future, our democracy-support package is in place. We are also working to sustain our electoral support in view of the future parliamentary elections. Last but not least, let me emphasise that support for the rule of law and respect for human rights constitutes the first priority of our bilateral assistance.
Ladies and gentlemen,
You have heard in the presentation by Prime Minister Filat what are the achievements and challenges of the internal reforms and external relations of Moldova. On the latter, I take this opportunity to encourage Moldova to continue to be constructive in its contacts with Ukraine. On the European agenda, a lot has been achieved so far thanks to considerable efforts that Moldova, as well as the EU, have deployed. Nevertheless, the country needs to step up efforts in many areas in order to stabilise the political, economic and social situation for the sake of its people. In this context, let me state that on this challenging path towards prosperity and stability, Moldova does not stand alone as proves also today's event.
Thank you for your attention.
Source: European Commission