On 12 October 2021, the 7th meeting of the EU-Republic of Moldova sub-committee on justice, freedom and security took place online. Representatives from the EU institutions and the Moldovan authorities discussed cooperation and developments since the last meeting in 2020, and covered a wide range of areas including the rule of law and justice reform, prevention and fight against corruption, anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism, prevention and fight against organised crime and other illegal activities, cooperation on migration, asylum and border management as well as protection of personal data.
The EU side welcomed the clear commitment of the Moldovan authorities to implement reforms in the justice sector, fighting corruption and ensuring the de-politicisation of state institutions, and recalled the EU’s commitment to support a pro-reform Moldova in these efforts, including through financial and technical assistance. The importance of ensuring an independent, accountable, impartial and professional judiciary, including the prosecution service was highlighted by the EU interlocutors. Strict conditionality linked to tackling structural reforms remains at the heart of EU support.
Moldovan authorities were encouraged to step up efforts to prevent and fight corruption to regain the trust of Moldovan citizens in the state and judicial institutions. The EU highlighted the need to improve the capacities of tackling high-level corruption and to reform the anti-corruption bodies, and recalled the importance of inclusive, transparent and evidence-based policy and decision-making, involving civil society, international partners and other relevant stakeholders.
The meeting participants discussed the state of play of investigation into the 2014 banking fraud with the EU stressing the need to decisively bring all those responsible to justice and recover the misappropriated funds. The EU strongly encouraged Moldovan authorities to take steps to update the 2018 criminal asset recovery strategy to make it more efficient and effective, and to put in place a comprehensive anti-money laundering legislation.
The EU welcomed Moldova’s efforts in implementation of the Third Visa Suspension Mechanism report and recalled that the Fourth Visa Suspension Mechanism report, published on 4 August 2021, confirmed overall continued fulfilment of the visa liberalisation benchmarks. Moldovan authorities were encouraged to continue efforts to tackle the remaining migration and security-related challenges, including by addressing the increase in irregularly staying Moldovan nationals and by strengthening operational cooperation to decrease the number of unfounded asylum applications lodged by Moldovan nationals in the Schengen+ area. The EU also commended Moldova’s good cooperation on preventing and fighting organised crime and other illegal activities. Moldovan authorities were encouraged to make best use of existing cooperation frameworks and agreements in these areas.
The EU recognised the efforts Moldova had already undertaken to bring the data protection legislation in line with the EU acquis and underlined the importance of further efforts, including building the capacity of the relevant institutions.
The meeting was chaired by the State Secretaries of the Moldovan Ministry of Justice Ms Veronica Mihailov-Moraru and Mr Iulian Rusu, and co-chaired by the Head of Division for Eastern Partnership bilateral relations in the European External Action Service Mr Richard Tibbels.
Meetings of the Sub-committee on Justice, Freedom and Security are held annually, in the framework of the implementation of the EU-Moldova Association Agreement, with alternating locations in Chisinau and Brussels. This year, the subcommittee meeting was hosted by the Moldovan Ministry of Justice (online).