Wednesday

24th Apr 2019

Moldova pins hopes on EU visa pact

  • Moldova's EU aspirations hinge on Ukraine (Photo: BBM Explorer)

A visa-liberalisation decision by the European Commission on Friday is being viewed in Moldova as make-or-break for the country's EU path.

“I expect a positive recommendation from the European Commission,” Moldova foreign affairs minister Natalia Gherman told a group of diplomats and journalists in the country’s capital city Chisinau at the start of the week.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The European Commission is set to deliver its recommendation on lifting visa restrictions on the former Soviet state on Friday (15 November).

A positive assessment would still need approval from member states and the European Parliament, possibly around the end of next year.

The scheme would allow Moldovans to travel to the EU for up to 90 days a year without a visa.

A suspension clause has been introduced to prevent a repeat of previous experiences when the Balkan-EU visa liberalization process saw an upsurge in asylum claims in member states.

Low wages and crippling poverty force many Moldovans to seek work outside the country with remittances alone accounting for some 25 percent of its total GDP.

The ministry of economy says 700,000, or around half of its working population, are abroad. Many are in Russia with others in the EU and Ukraine.

Gherman noted that Moldovans are aware that the short-term visa does not grant them permission to find work in the EU.

Meanwhile, Moldova’s fragile governing coalition of three parties with pro-EU ambitions view a positive commission verdict as essential in the run-up to next year’s general elections which will pit them against the Communist party.

The coalition sees the EU as its best bet to modernise the country and is set to initial a trade agreement at a summit in Lithuania at the end of the month.

Their plan is to have the trade pact signed and the visa-free regime finalised before next year's general elections.

The Communist party sees the Russian Custom’s Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan as a better alternative to the EU.

But the internal geopolitical tug of war between the two sides is said to depend largely on Ukraine, the second largest economy and the second largest market in the region.

Kiev is also in the process of deciding whether to turn towards Brussels or Moscow - a decision that is also set to become clear at the Lithuania summit.

The commission, in an effort to help curb corruption in the country, tied numerous corruption-fighting conditions to the visa deal.

Moldovan authorities say they adopted the relevant laws last year and have already implemented most of them.

But Moldova’s prime minster Iurie Leanca has admitted that fighting corruption and reforming the justice system also requires a change in mentality.

The recent arrests of low ranking judges is put forward as an example of their efforts to help stop the practice.

“It is just the beginning because they are small fishes so to say,” he told the group of visiting diplomats and journalists.

The EU, for its part, says it expects Moldova to deliver on its promises.

“Like any other country, Moldova needs to sustain the political will to root-out corruption at all levels, including high-level corruption,” a commission official told this website in an email.

Leanca is expected to arrive in Brussels on Friday to press Moldova’s case for EU integration.

Opinion

Moldova should initial EU pact

Initialing the EU association and free trade pact in Vilnius is Moldova's best chance to build a decent future for its people.

Trump's Israel plan to 'test' EU resolve

EU countries ought to draw "red lines" for US president Donald Trump on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Herman Van Rompuy, the former head of the EU Council, has said.

News in Brief

  1. Political deadlock looms at Sunday's Spanish election
  2. Le Pen in Copenhagen for talks with new key ally
  3. Trump to meet May and Macron on Europe visit in June
  4. Johnson's sister to run in EU elections on new list
  5. Weber pledges to 'block' Nord Stream 2 as president
  6. UK warns migrants not to cross 'dangerous' Channel
  7. Austria's FPO publishes racist poem
  8. Spanish party leaders spar over Catalonia

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Weber vow to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat
  2. 'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem
  3. EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections
  4. Ukraine comic-president invited to EU capitals
  5. Trump's Israel plan to 'test' EU resolve
  6. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  7. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  8. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us