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Republic of Moldova

Since last year parliamentary elections, Moldova has been governed by the Alliance for European Integration set up by four liberal-democratic parties – namely, the Liberal Democratic Party, the Liberal Party, Our Moldova Alliance and the Democratic Party.

Together these four have a simple majority in the Moldovan Parliament. All four parties are staunch supporters of Moldova’s gradual integration with the EU in the foreseeable future. Consequently, European integration is the bedrock of the current government’s program.

There is a remarkable openness towards Moldova in all EU capitals, and this offers new opportunities, ones that have to be translated into concrete achievements. Thus, the Eastern Partnership (EaP) has become a key priority for the current Moldovan government. As a result, the EU has started negotiations on the future Association Agreement with Moldova, which will offer political association and economic integration.

As of May, 2010 Moldova has been a member of the European Energy Community, which shall entail the integration of its electrical energy system into the EU’s electrical energy network and market. Moreover, the European Commission has approved a comprehensive Democracy Support Package in the amount of €4 million, aimed at supporting projects in the field of human rights and the rule of law.

The European Commission has also sent a high level advisory group composed of nine advisors who are assisting the Moldovan authorities in developing and implementing sectoral policies compliant with EU standards and practices. The European Commission and the Moldovan government have also signed the Memorandum on Comprehensive Institution-Building in the amount of €41 million, something which will help Moldova prepare its national institutions for implementation of the future Association Agreement. Dialogue with civil society has notably improved, and measures have been taken to increase access to information and the transparency of public decision-making.

Perceptions of the Eastern Partnership in Moldova

The Moldovan political elite expected that the EaP would provide Moldova with a clear European perspective. Instead, the EaP has set up new far-reaching objectives, but only within the legal and political framework established by the Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). Therefore, all the main political parties, as well as the majority of civil society experts, are of the opinion that the EaP has failed to overcome the key structural weaknesses of the ENP.

Nevertheless, the leading civil society experts believe that this new initiative does bring new opportunities for deepening partnership relations between the EU and Eastern European states, in particular for those states that not only make declarations about their wish to join the EU, but are ready and able to fulfill the political, institutional, legislative, economic, and social commitments necessary to translate this desire into concrete actions. In this context, they point out to six very important objectives of the EaP, such as:

  1. negotiating new contractual relations with Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Belarus in the form of Association Agreements that will create close political connections between the signatory states and the EU;
  2. promoting the economic integration of partner states with the common European market through establishing with them Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas, something that will entail mandatory harmonization of the internal regulatory framework with the acquis communautaire in trade-related fields;
  3. starting visa liberalization dialogue that will outline the conditions mandatory to facilitate the flow of people between the Eastern European states and the EU;
  4. strengthening the energy interdependence of partner countries with the EU;
  5. building modern and efficient institutional capacities;
  6. increasing the financial assistance allocated by the EU to its Eastern European partners.

The Moldovan governmental Alliance for European Integration has fully embraced civil society’s position on the EaP. Thus, the current Moldovan government has deemed the EaP as one of the most important priorities in the area of European integration. Consequently, the Governmental Action Program clearly stipulates that Moldova will undertake the measures necessary to fully exploit the opportunities of the EaP.

Moldovan Civil Society’s response to the EaP

During the last year the dialogue with civil society has been noticeably improved and measures have been taken to increase access to information and the transparency of the public decision-making process. This positive trend was possible through the government’s new approach toward engaging civil society. The Alliance for European Integration’s new approach aims at capitalizing on the expertise and knowledge of civil society, as well as to ensure a large base of public sup-port for governmental decisions and policies. Therefore, after parliamentary elections of July 2009, civil society representatives have been involved in drafting a series of strategic development documents, such as: the Activity Program of the Moldovan Government “European Integration: Freedom, Democracy, Welfare”; Medium Term Development Action Plan “Rethink Moldova”; Economic Stabilization and Recovery Program 2009–2011, etc.

In the same time, at the initiative of the Moldovan Government, cooperation with civil society was strengthened by establishing a permanent platform for dialogue and consultation called National Participation Council (NPC), which is composed of 30 non-governmental organizations working in various fields. The activity of the NPC is focused on two surpassing matters: 1) taking part in all stages of decision making and strategic planning process – drafting, monitoring, and evaluating the national development policies; and 2) establishing an institutional framework for participation and consultation at the level of the central public authorities. The NPC chair has the right to attend all meetings of the Moldovan Cabinet of Ministers and to voice there the NPC position on governmental draft decisions and policies. Before every meeting of the Moldovan Government, the NPC members are informed about the draft agenda of the meeting and the content of the decisions to be made.

Moreover, all draft decisions are sent to the NPC for potential legal and policy input. In parallel, the NPC members have been included in the process of governmental decision-making in the Collegiums of the Moldovan ministries and agencies, which are the main administrative internal monitoring bodies of those institutions. In this way, the Moldovan authorities have increased the level of transparency of governmental institutions and, most importantly, strengthened the watchdog capacities of non-governmental organizations. The establishment of National Participation Council is in line with the Law on Transparency of Decision Making Process approved in late 2008 and gives civil society organizations new tools for citizen oversight over the necessary reforms to be made for the European Integration of the country.

Importantly, the majority of the NPC organizations are members of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and, at the same time, the NPC Chair is a member of the Steering Committee of the EaP Civil Society Forum. Consequently, the Council is also playing the role of interface between the Moldovan government and the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership. Hence, there is a stronger partnership between the current Moldovan government and civil society in promoting Moldova’s objectives and interests in the framework of the Eastern Partnership.

Author of the report was Victor Chirila, 2010

About the author:

Victor Chirila is the Director of the Foreign Policy Association of Moldova, a former Moldovan diplomat, and an expert on European integration issues. Chirila studied international relations at the National School for Political and Administrative Studies in Bucharest and European Public Policies at the University of Edinburgh. Victor Chirila participated in the 2009 Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership and his organization was selected to attend the 2010 Forum event as well.

 

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