European Union External Action

The Republic of Moldova and the EU

12/05/2016 - 14:56
EU relations with Country

Overview of political and economic relations between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union.

Relations between the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Moldova are deep and multifaceted. The Republic of Moldova participates in many EU agreements and programmes.

The two sides are deepening their relations with the EU-Moldova Association Agreement, which was signed in June 2014. The new framework is innovative and ambitious, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and an Association Agenda aimed at furthering economic integration and political association between Moldova and the EU. The Association Agreement replaces the previous Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which had been in force since July 1998.

The EU seeks to improve democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the Republic of Moldova, including in joint programmes with the Council of Europe. The Union also supports efforts to achieve Transnistria settlement.

Other priorities for relations with the Republic of Moldova include strengthening the institutions, reforming the judiciary, improving the 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 Republic of Moldova is a priority partner country within the Eastern Partnership, the eastern dimension within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Partnership countries and the EU commit to deepening their ties, including through free trade agreements, eventual visa liberalisation and EU-funded projects. The Eastern Partnership offers both bilateral and multilateral measures for enhanced cooperation.

Moldova benefits from a Mobility Partnership with the EU as one of the two pilot countries in the world. As detailed in the general approach, the Mobility Partnership organises cooperation in the field of migration, including areas such as legal migration, development and fighting against illegal migration. Around 40 initiatives are currently being implemented within the Mobility Partnership between the EU and Moldova.

Moldova is also a partner country within the Black Sea Synergy and is a member of the Energy Community

Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement

The EU and Moldova signed a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). This provides substantially improved access to the EU market of over 500 million consumers for Moldovan goods and services, as well as improved investment opportunities. Economic cooperation extends to numerous individual sectors.

Autonomous trade preferences provide duty-free and quota-free access for almost all Moldovan goods to the EU market. This has provided considerable support to Moldovan companies, since 50 % of Moldovan trade is with the EU. The EU is also working to ease air travel and agricultural trade with Moldova.

Financial Assistance

The EU is by far the largest donor in Moldova, supporting political and economic reform, and providing humanitarian aid. Bilateral assistance to Moldova under the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) sharply increased from €40 million in 2007 to €131 million in 2014. Moldova is the largest recipient of EU aid per capita in the European neighbourhood.

EU assistance is being used for key reforms in the justice, education, economic development and energy sectors. The EU has also funded investment in air and road infrastructure, as well as Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) projects. In addition, Moldova profits from numerous thematic programmes, mainly supporting civil society and regional programmes linked with Trans-European networks.

EU financial aid to Moldova has funded numerous and diverse projects, including:

  • improving public administration and financial management;
  • reform of the social aid system;
  • emergency aid responding to increases in heating tariffs;
  • energy production based on solar and agricultural waste, waste collection;
  • health care reform and equipment;
  • care centres for the young and old;
  • natural disaster relief;
  • rural economic activity;
  • water supply and waste water treatment infrastructure.

The EU is also supporting the implementation of confidence-building measures in the Transnistrian region of Moldova through health care and social projects.

Trade between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union

The EU is the most important trading partner for the Republic of Moldova ("Moldova").

The Association Agreement between the EU and Moldova has brought deep and comprehensive free trade between the two partners. This means Moldova benefits from reduced or eliminated tariffs for its exports to the EU, an increased services market and better conditions for attracting foreign investment. The Association Agreement has been provisionally applied since September 2014 and fully entered into force on July 2016.

Clear shift towards the EU

Since 2005, Moldova’s trade has dramatically shifted towards the EU. Around two thirds (66%) of Moldova's exports went to the EU in 2016, followed by Russia (12%) and Belarus (5%).

The shift towards trade with the EU occurred due to the successive liberalisation of trade with the EU since 2008. Following the application of the Association Agreement, EU imports from the Republic of Moldova increased by 5.5% in 2015 and by 7.7% in 2016.

Main products exported to the EU

The top products exported from Moldova to the EU are:

  • Machinery and appliances, for instance electrical cables
  • Textiles, including clothes and knitwear, and shoes
  • Agricultural products and beverages, including fruits, nuts, maize, wheat, sunflower seeds, oils
  • iron and steel.

EU trade partners

All EU member states trade with the Republic of Moldova, but the biggest share of Moldovan exports goes to Romania, Italy, Germany and Great Britain.

In 2016, the exports from the EU to the Republic of Moldova have decreased by 2%. Key EU exports are machinery and appliances, mineral products, transport equipment, and chemical products.

Potential for higher exports to the EU

Access to the European markets will further increase once Moldova has aligned its health and safety standards to those of the EU. The food safety reform will enable Moldova to export its agricultural products, notably animal products, whose safety for consumers is strictly controlled in the EU.

Products meeting EU standards are accepted on markets worldwide. If Moldovan companies adopt EU product standards, this will open additional markets for them.

Compatibility with other free trade zones

The Association Agreement with the EU is compatible with all other free trade agreements that the Republic of Moldova is part of. Under the Association Agreement, Moldova can trade freely with the EU, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States at the same time. Moldova also retains full sovereignty over its trade policy since it is not a member of any customs union.

Membership of the Eurasian Economic Union

The Eurasian Economic Union is a customs union where its members give up full control of their trade policy. Membership of the Eurasian Economic Union is not compatible with the Association Agreement with the European Union.

Read more

More on EU-Moldova trade relations

More details about the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and the Republic of Moldova

Recent EU statistics on EU-Moldova trade

EU trade policy

Practical information for exporters to the EU

Export helpdesk

Information on EU rules of origin

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