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Europe and its Neighbours

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The Europeanisation of Moldova: Is the EU on the right track?

18 Jul 2016 - 17:26
Source: EU Neighbourhood Info/ENPI

In order to strengthen its profile and foster better implementation of the Association Agreement, the European Union (EU) needs to update its policies towards Moldova by means of a pragmatic mix of strict conditionality and strategic patience, according to the authors of this report. While recent developments in the EU’s approach offer room for optimism, Moldova’s economic and political woes, coupled with the geopolitical sensitivity of the protracted Transnistrian conflict, require better investment and synergy of resources between the EU and its member states.

If properly handled, Moldova could serve as the bridgehead of a stronger European impact in the volatile Eastern neighbourhood. Given the window of opportunity currently offered by Russia, Moldova also offers a chance for the EU to test Russia’s willingness to cooperate in a pragmatic way in the so-called ‘shared neighbourhood’.

Addressing the issues that Moldova is currently facing related to a deeply entrenched and corrupt political system, as well as Moldova’s economic and social problems, is therefore of major relevance to the EU for the success of its Eastern Partnership Policy. Against this background, the European Council has recently underlined the importance of full implementation of the Association Agreement (AA)/Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which fully entered into force on 1 July 2016, urging Moldova to strengthen its reformist drive (1). The inclusion of Transnistria in the DCFTA could also open additional possibilities for the region to integrate more fully with ‘right bank’ Moldova.

In this light, this Clingendael Report assesses the EU’s initiatives towards Moldova, both in the context of the Eastern Partnership and more specifically the AA. It especially focusses on the extent to which the EU’s policies and instruments have contributed and could further contribute to fostering (re)integration-oriented stability and good governance in Moldova at large. Seeking to provide guidance to the EU and national policymakers, the report specifically investigates what mix of policy principles should underpin the EU’s (and its member states’) approach to the country.

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(1) European Council, 15-02-2016. Council Conclusions on the Republic of Moldova, see online (accessed 09-03-2016).