On 27 June 2014, the EU and Moldova signed an ambitious and innovative Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). The agreement contains binding, rule-based provisions and provides for enhanced cooperation to promote political association and economic integration, going further than in traditional agreements and covering all areas of relevance. The Agreement was provisionally applied from 1 September 2014 until completion of the ratification process, which allowed the full application of the Association Agreement from 1 July 2016.
The EU considers the implementation of the Association Agreement as a key priority to consolidate and promote shared values and principles, notably democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Other priorities for relations with Moldova include strengthening state institutions, reforming the judiciary, improving business climate, ensuring respect for freedom of expression, improving health and social conditions and cooperating on issues such as border management, migration and the fight against trafficking, organised crime, corruption and money laundering.
The implementation of the Association Agreement is regularly monitored through Association Implementation Reports (the latest issued on 19 October 2021), and reviewed in several bilateral dialogue formats provided for under the Association Agreement:
- EU-Moldova Association Council (latest on 28 October 2021)
- EU-Moldova Association Committee (latest on 19 February 2020)
- EU-Moldova Association Committee in Trade Configuration (last meeting on 20-21 October 2021)
- Various Sub-committees, including the Sub-committee on Justice, freedom and security, as well as a Human Rights Dialogue
The EU also cooperates with Moldova in the area of foreign and security policy. The agreement on establishing a framework for Moldova’s participation in EU crisis management operations was signed on 13 December 2012 (entered into force in July 2013). Since 2014 Moldova participates in the EU crisis management missions (EUTM Mali, EUMAM RCA) with officer currently deployed in EUTM Mali. Consultations on security and defense with Moldova take place since 2014 (last on 6-8 June 2018 in Chisinau) to discuss cooperation on tackling hybrid threats, cyber security, strategic communication, training and capacity building for Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions, support to security sector reform. Moldova is also an active participant in the Eastern Partnership Panel on Security, CSDP and Civil Protection as well as CSDP related courses, conferences and workshops.
The EU firmly supports a comprehensive, peaceful and sustainable settlement of the Transnistrian conflict based on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova within its internationally recognised borders with a special status for Transnistria. The EU participates as an observer in the 5+2 negotiation process on Transnistrian conflict settlement. The EU finances confidence-building measures designed to support the settlement process by increasing confidence between Chişinău and Tiraspol through joint initiatives involving stakeholders from both sides. Confidence building measures have allowed 70 people from both sides of the Nistru River to set up businesses and create 350 jobs.
The European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) to Moldova and Ukraine was launched in 2005. The aim of EUBAM is to support Moldova’s and Ukraine’s efforts to effectively manage their common border and actively support measures contributing to the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict. Thanks to EU support, a modernised and quicker train operates between Chişinău and Odesa running via Tiraspol, which brings closer the two banks of the Nistru River. Link to the EUBAM website: https://eubam.org/
Mobility and people-to-people contacts
The visa liberalisation entered into force on 28 April 2014. The visa free regime with Moldova has been facilitating travel, business and people-to-people contacts. It is an example of progress achieved on enhancing mobility with EaP partners.
According to the data by Moldovan authorities, from 28 April 2014 (the start date of visa liberalisation) until 31 December 2020, some 2.3 million Moldovan citizens made almost 9 million trips to the Schengen area under the visa-free regime. Moldova benefits from a Mobility Partnership with the EU as a framework for cooperation in the field of migration in areas such as legal migration, and the fight against irregular migration, including border management and the combating of trafficking in human beings. Around 12 initiatives are currently being implemented within the Mobility Partnership between the EU and Moldova. For more information see here.
The EU assistance in the area of higher education continued to be provided via Erasmus+. From 2015-20, nearly 3,700 students and academic staff benefitted from Erasmus+ academic mobility between Moldova and the EU. Under Horizon’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) 2014-2020, 62 Moldovan researchers have received funding for training, mobility and career development.