The bilateral relations between Moldovan and the EU reached a summit in 2014 after signing the Association Agreement and visa liberalization with the Schengen area. Association Agreement with the EU, which also involves the creation of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, has already marked the first results, and during last year Moldovan exports to EU gained 9.6%, thus increasing the share of Moldovan exports to the EU to 53%. In turn, visa liberalization with the EU Schengen area allowed more than 350,000 Moldovans to travel freely in these countries in the first 9 months of 2014.
Despite the positive dynamics in the adoption of European standards, abandoning the outdated or contradictory standards (GOST) remains a challenge for the authorities. Therefore, the reluctances among the stakeholders responsible for quality infrastructure and businesses on the adoption of European standards, which refer to high costs of implementing the European standards and close connections with the CIS markets – where GOST standards are widely applicable, are persistent.
Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning the progress in the Customs Control area, where the share of exports cleared electronically exceeded 30%, and in Transports’ sector, where naval grain exports on the river Prut have resumed. In the same field, the lack of institutional transparency at the Moldova Railways state company could endanger the EBRD investment program worth 52.5 million Euros.
In the energy sector, we are mentioning the singing of the sale contract for natural gas between Moldova and Romania and the expansion plans announced for Iași-Ungheni pipeline, towards Chișinău. However, taking into account the numerous delays and overall dynamics of this project, Moldova still faces the prospects of remaining dependent on natural gas imports from Russia.
E-Governance in Moldova has recorded substantial progresses: numerous online public services were launched, including Online Income Statement, E-invoice, E-Traffic, E-Visa and E-Reporting. However, the government must do more in order to increase public confidence in the concept of e-government, given that much of the population is still questioning the reliability of accessing public services online.
In the justice sector, although the implementation of the reform strategy is positively constant, some alarming arrears have been accumulated, such as reforming the prosecution office and implementation of internal mechanisms for warning. Also, many anti-corruption mechanisms should be strengthened and improved, such as regulations on using the lie detector (polygraph), amending the law on testing the professional integrity and also reviewing the Constitution in order provide additional security for criminal regulations relating embezzlement and extended confiscation.
At the end of its term, the Moldovan Parliament has failed to pass a series of laws designed to ensure a better protection of the human rights in Moldova. In this respect, we are mentioning the failure to adopt in the final lecture the bill on introducing a minimum quota of representation for both women and men in official positions. Also, the delay of reform on the ombudsman institution is questioning the authorities’ willingness to defend human rights and freedoms. A positive development on this respect is the approval of a new law on the Ombudsman in April 2014, although this law is being put on hold by the inability of the Parliament to vote for candidates selected through a public competition.
The Parliament elections from November 2014 had shown the existence of deficiencies in providing universal voting rights, given the elimination of a candidate just few days before the elections.
The Transnistrian settlement process saw an unusual evolution in 2014. This was due to the crisis in Ukraine, caused by the annexation of Crimea by Russia, which was followed by the war in Donbass area. These events created serious tensions between the negotiators in the ”5+2” format, which further reduced the efficiency of negotiations.
Also, Russia did substantially reduce the financial support for Transnistria, while Ukraine took measures to secure its borders against a possible invasion of the Transnistrian armed forces in Odessa, actions which limited the citizens’ movement and sparked social and economic tensions in the breakaway region. At the same time, the confidence in the Transnistrian authorities was undermined by their unilateral actions against the free movement of citizens, against Moldovan peacekeepers, Moldovan farmers and Romanian schools in the region.
The report is launched with the financial support from the Soros-Moldova Foundation, within the project „EU-Moldova Relationships – Monitoring the Progress within the Eastern Partnership in 2014”.