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Implications of Romania’s accession to EU on Moldovan-Romanian bilateral relations

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Monica Sitaru / December 30, 2006
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As it was already said, the accession to the European Union (EU) is a historical moment for Romania. But the moment of euphoria will pass and it is normal to focus on concrete actions that Romania should take to continue internal reforms and to respect commitments assumed during negotiations with the EU. The added value that Romania may bring to foreign policy of the EU and relations with neighbours is also part of this context.

Thus, as an EU member, Romania is interested in strengthening the European option of the Republic Moldova because Bucharest would like a stable, democratic, prosperous neighbourhood linked to European circuits. Romania continued to support the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which Bucharest regards as a distinct opportunity of strengthening the EU relations with third countries. Romania have especially posted readiness to support the implementation of the EU-Moldova Action Plan, given the immediate priorities of Chisinau and modalities of assistance that Romania can offer.

On the other hand, but not less important, as Romanian president has also said, Romania wants to persuade the EU to include the Republic of Moldova in the package for the Western Balkans.

In spite of some fluctuations in bilateral relations, Bucharest consider that nothing but a privileged partnership and cooperation may develop between Romania and Moldova and Romania’s support for the Republic of Moldova may have a distinct connotation, once Romania joins the EU.

At the same time, Romania has expressed more than once all readiness to share its experience in the field of European integration, in the forms and modalities accepted by the Republic of Moldova. As a matter of fact, Romanian high-ranking authorities have noted more than once that actions of foreign policy of Romania also seek a European solution to the Republic of Moldova, supporting the process of integration of Moldova in the EU without reservations.

Bucharest is sure that Moldova’s population needs and deserves a European destiny. The commitment to support it like good neighbours in order to be witnesses of a successful transformation of this country and its readjustment to the areas of European values results from this profound conviction, if Chisinau authorities like it.

But, besides the political commitment that Romania assumes to promote the European cause of the Republic of Moldova, there are also concrete fields and contributions that Romania will bring in its relationship with Moldova once it joins the EU.

The financial assistance through which the EU has supported the process of transition to democracy and market economy in Moldova (and Ukraine) was provided via the TACIS Programme starting the 1990s. This programme will be replaced in 2007 by the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument, which will provide assistance worth 209.7 million euros to Moldova in 2007–2010 for bilateral programmes EU-Moldova. The funds allocated for transborder programmes ENPI-CBC 2007–2013 are added to these finances, with Moldova participating in two programmes, both with Romania. Romania will significantly contribute to the budget of transborder cooperation programmes with Moldova and Ukraine with amounts of 63,363,841 euros. The technical assistance tools TAIEX and Twinning raise a special interest for cooperation with Moldova and they have demonstrated their efficiency in the enlargement process.

In addition, the Republic of Moldova like other states benefits of foreign assistance tools: the Macro-Financial Assistance Tool, the Humanitarian Assistance Tool, the Tool for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy, the Tool for Cooperation and Development (only for thematic programmes on food security, environment, migration, etc.), the Nuclear Security Tool.

After accession, Romania as an EU member state will contribute to budgets of the tools mentioned above (the amounts were not established yet) and will be eligible for participation in financial programmes/ projects via all these tools through its public institutions and agents of private sector and civil society registered in Romania.

Assistance for development

Romania’s accession to the EU will produce the change of its status as beneficiary of assistance for development with the status of international donor. In this context, the Republic of Moldova will be one of priority states to benefit of the future bilateral assistance for development offered by Romania. Also, Romania will assist Moldova in a special framework, especially through contribution to financing of the foreign assistance tools of the EU, which Romania will financially support, through general contribution to the community budget.

Bilateral assistance

Romania will assist Moldova to implement individual development strategies and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). At the beginning, the profile of international donor of Romania will correspond to own capacities of technical, financial and humanitarian involvement, which means that our country will mainly act in a limited number of priority fields, where the experience in the field could be used in comparison with other donor states. Romania intends to give Moldova 10 million euros in 2007 as assistance for development.

Border security

Using financial tools of the EU, joint projects on formation of qualified personnel, feasibility researches, exchanges of good practices and equipment needed for a strict control at borders of neighbouring states which are not EU members could be implemented.

Operational cooperation could develop in this framework and this fact could be advantageous both for Romania and EU implicitly, and for the states concerned, which are interested in achieving some progresses in the field of borders and fight against transborder crime, in order to facilitate the free move of own citizens in the EU area.

For this purpose, the bilateral legislative framework will be revised and adapted after accession in compliance with the new status of Romania and goals proposed with these neighbouring states, which will be helped to seek a political and material support from the European Commission for all partners participating in this process. The results of activities will be materialised through a very strict control at Romania’s border, as the move of people and goods will grow.

In order to consolidate the legal and institutional framework of Moldova, Romania participates with experts in the project Granting Information Support to Competent Central Public Authorities to Adjust Legislation Accordingly to Acquis Communautaire, financed by the British Embassy in Chisinau, and it has posted readiness of its Foreign Ministry to organise training courses for diplomats working in the Department of European Integration of the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration.

Also, representatives of Moldova have been told the address where they may read the acquis communautaire translated into Romanian, which may be used for initiatives aimed to adjust the Moldovan legislation to European legislation.

Romania’s accession to EU has a certain effect in many fields for sure, but I would like to recall that two normative acts with direct impact on move of Moldovan citizens in Romania were adopted in 2006:

The introduction of the visa regime will be an important impact of Romania’s accession to EU on move of Moldovan citizens. Romania was the last EU candidate to introduce the visa regime with Moldova. The treaty on visa regime stipulates maximum facilities allowed by Schengen requirements. It is a simple and very flexible, asymmetrical visa regime; Moldovan citizens travel to Romania with visas issued free of charge.

In a move to enhance the capacity of absorption of visa applications, the consular section of the embassy was modified in line with Schengen norms and necessary requests were submitted to Moldovan authorities to open two general consulates in Cahul and Balti. We are waiting for the consent of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration to take logistic measures for functioning of the two consulates. By opening the two consulates, the embassy meets Moldovans who will apply to the consulate in the area of their domiciles. The personnel and technical endowments will be established depending on the number of visa applications.

The rapid opening of the two consulates also depends on a prompt reaction of Moldovan authorities.

The Romanian Embassy in Chisinau will introduce an online application, so that Moldovans and foreign citizens allowed to stay in Moldova be apple to get appointments to apply for visas. This facility comes to support applicants and brings main advantages:

I cannot end without noting one more time that Romania’s accession to the EU must be regarded as a chance for the Republic of Moldova, which will benefit of a greater attention of the EU by becoming a neighbour of the bloc, but also a chance in terms that Moldova will be able to benefit of all support and experience obtained by Romania in many years within its efforts to reach the standards imposed by the EU membership, if Moldova wants this.

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