Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs are concerned by the slow course of rule of law reforms and fighting corruption in Moldova, which continues to suffer from acute political instability.

On Monday, the Foreign Affairs Committee adopted their report assessing the implementation of the EU Association Agreement with Moldova, with 56 votes in favour, 2 against and 10 abstentions. The text reaffirms the EU’s commitment to support Moldova’s “European path” through political association, economic integration and reforms, and commends the “sustained engagement” by both the Moldovan authorities and society in this process. It also highlights Moldova’s “constructive contribution to the cooperation within the Eastern Partnership.”

At the same time, much more must be achieved with regard to the commitments undertaken by Moldova in its Association Agreement with the EU, particularly when it comes to ensuring the independence of state institutions, preventing oligarchic influence, stepping up the fight against widespread corruption, promoting justice, strengthening the rule of law and improving media freedom and people’s living conditions, says the text.

Presidential elections in an environment of acute political instability

With regard to the Moldovan presidential elections scheduled on 1 November this year, MEPs say that the EU and relevant international organisations should monitor the situation in the country closely, as these elections will be a “test for democracy and the rule of law”.

Against a backdrop of what they describe as “acute political instability”, Members call on the Moldovan authorities to ensure that these elections will be “free and fair” and to further improve relevant electoral legislation. This is a necessity to guarantee the effectiveness of the right to vote, the fairness of the electoral campaigns, the transparency of the legislative process and democratic oversight, which must allow for proper public scrutiny of the government’s and the parliament’s activities.

The Moldovan authorities must also refrain from altering rules and regulations for political gain, “which will always end in political unrest and instability affecting the commitment for structural reforms”, says the report.

The Constitutional Courts’ independence is crucial

Following serious cases of harassment and blackmailing, MEPs further call on the Moldovan authorities to strengthen and ensure the complete independence of the country’s Constitutional Court, in order to guarantee that it is not subject to any political interference.

They firmly condemn the “enormous pressure” that the Court’s judges were recently subjected to when they declared an agreed 200 million EUR loan from Russia to Moldova as unconstitutional.

The report also expresses concern over the general slow course of rule of law reforms in Moldova, as well as over problems with seriously tackling corruption and highly politicised media and advertising sectors.

The text, which addresses everything from institutional provisions and trade to the rule of law, good governance, the situation in Transnistria, EU macro-financial assistance, energy and much more, will be available in full here.

“The AA/DCFTA continues to be an essential political and economic anchor for the Republic of Moldova; it has driven democratic change, supported a much needed reform agenda, as well as boosted trade and economic growth. But most of all, it brought benefits to the Moldovans and their legitimate European aspirations. The authorities must play their part in delivering those aspirations, without ambiguity or misgivings and albeit the upcoming electoral context. For as long as the Moldovan politicians understand and assume this responsibility, the EU will stay on their side to further the political and economic integration, with advice regarding the design and implementation of reforms, with macro-financial and budgetary support, and COVID-19 related assistance. The report approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee reaffirms the strong commitment of the European Parliament to promote a partnership with Moldova built on these milestones”, said rapporteur Dragoș Tudorache (Renew Europe, RO) after the vote.

Rapporteur Dragoș Tudorache, Renew Europe, RO [Renew Europe, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

The report will now be subjected to a vote in the European Parliament as a whole during a plenary session later this year.