Alegerile parlamentare din 2021 în Republica Moldova -

Moldova — future EU neighbour or member?

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Valeriu Gheorghiu / April 27, 2003
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European Union (EU) relations with Moldova are as old as 10 years, yet they have evolved much slower than with other European countries. Most often, the blame is put on the Transdnistrian conflict and Russia’s involvement, as well as on the fact that Moldova belongs to the former Soviet space.

However, the Transdnistrian conflict is not an insurmountable obstacle to Moldova’s joining of the EU. Cyprus is experiencing a lasting territorial conflict, and not long ago another attempt by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has failed. Despite this, the Greek part of the isle has been invited to join the EU as a full-fledged member. Hence, the case of Cyprus offers us serious grounds in our talks with the EU.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is in fact a UN protectorate that has three governments, three armies and a Serbian secessionist republic. Nonetheless, this country has been included in the Stabilisation and Association Process, which opens the prospect of membership. Serbia and Montenegro includes the Kosovo region, which is under the UN and OSCE authority as well.

Russia’s involvement may not be totally dismissed, but it can be downplayed, considering the following factors:

Moldova is a Member State of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), but also of the Stability Pact for South East Europe, the Co-operation Initiative in the South East Europe, the US Action Plan for South East Europe, and the WTO. No other western CIS state enjoys membership of all these structures. Moreover, it is natural for the Moldovan people to be in the Latin and Francophone environment, i.e. the European one.

Similarly, as important is the reaction of our country to the recent Communication by the European Commission of 11 March 2003 on the wider Europe. In the communication, the EU proposes the following fields for co-operation:

Certainly, as compared to the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement, Moldova’s status of future EU neighbour is clearer now. The issue is that the EU has made these proposals not only to us, but also to Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. Hence the EU has not taken into account our efforts to assert ourselves as a South East European State, and has not opened the prospect of membership for us.

This external factor is extremely important. The rapprochement with the EU is a powerful catalyst and an essential contribution to the promotion of reforms. Thus, in a chain reaction, granting the Central and East European the status of EU associate members has prompted a massive inflow of investments. During the past 10 years Poland has attracted investments worth US$ 38 billion, the Czech Republic — US$ 28 billion, Romania — US$ 10 billion etc. Were Moldova to become an EU associate now, this would increase the investors’ interests and would have a wealth of beneficial economic, social and political effects.

Therefore, Moldova should not accept only what it is being offered, but demand that the prospect of membership is opened to it. Such a position is founded on the fact that Moldova is geographically a European state and a South East European state actively involved in various regional co-operation projects. Moldova is a small state, for which the external factor plays a great role, and its adherence to the EU will not cause any major financial, political or social problems.

On the other hand, the EU may not avoid a third wave of enlargement to include Croatia, Albania, the “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro.

The conclusion is that Moldova should apply for associate status with the EU, and if it does not meet the necessary requirements, it could become associate member by 2007. Another possibility would be to sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU, given that the next enlargement could take this very path. In both cases, a serious analysis of the situation and of the motivation for the chosen variant is needed. If Moldova properly applies the provisions of the Association Agreement or those of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, it could join the EU by 2010–2014.

An extremely useful step for us at the moment would be the asymmetrical opening of the EU market for the Moldovan goods. At present, Moldova’s trade with the EU accounts for a minor share of the community trade (in 2000 the volume of Moldova’s commercial exchanges with the EU was 336 Euro, or 0.04% of EU’s foreign trade). If the EU market opens up for all Moldovan agricultural products, even in this field Moldova would account for only 0.006%. These figures will decrease even further in May 2004 when the new EU members bring in much larger agricultural producers than the Moldovan ones.

Special attention should be paid to the fact that Moldova has been admitted to the Stability Pact for South East Europe, but not to the Stabilisation and Association Process (in fact, not even to the Co-operation Process in South East Europe), which fact considerably diminishes the value of our co-operation within the Pact. It is well known that the other states accepted to the Pact put the greatest value on the prospect of joining the EU, which is opened to them through the Stabilisation and Association Agreements to which they are party. By signing such an agreement with Moldova, the EU would not have to make any exceptions for Moldova anymore and invite it to sign an Association Agreement, and thus no hopes will be raised for Ukraine (and, eventually, Belarus, after Lukashenko leaves).

Apart from all these, the European Union may use its international standing and financial resources (which need not be too high as compared to the benefit they are likely to have) to join the OSCE’s efforts at resolving the Transdnistrian conflict and post-conflict reconstruction. The EU has positive experience in this sense when in 2001 it participated together with NATO in the resolution of the Macedonian conflict.

The overall conclusion is that there are no obstacles that could make Moldova’s joining of the EU impossible. It is true that our task is very difficult, and the idea of joining the EU should be underpinned by concrete statements and actions enjoying the support of the entire society and a national consensus. On the other hand, the EU should treat Moldova without discrimination, considering that Moldova is a European state, which has the right to join the European Union.

The 2003 Electoral Campaign Electoral Statistics