The Republic of Moldova is a country in Eastern Europe and borders Romania and Ukraine, with no outlet to the sea.
Geographically, Moldova is located in a position that historically has already had dealings with the Russian world. In particular, it is necessary to remember the episodes in the area of Transinistria in the 1990s, when this region was under strong military pression from Russia.
The war between Russia and Ukraine, among other things, has again made the territory of Transinistria strategic, which is why the country of Moldova is suffering, probably more than others, the direct consequences of the conflict.
The Moldovan population is suffering on its own skin from a war that has been going on for more than a year, while at the same time having to cope with severe crises related to inflation and high energy prices. In addition to this, the political stability of the country also seems to be endangered due to frequent attempts to destabilise the government. And finally, it should be remembered that Moldova has taken in around half a million Ukrainian refugees since the beginning of the war, almost half of whom are children. Children who are therefore forced to give up a peaceful childhood and who have been brutally forced to leave their homes.
The Moldovan government is led by Maia Sandu, who won the presidential elections in 2020. Sandu is also a prominent international personality and a supporter of a pro-European policy, as well as being the first woman elected president of Moldova.
With the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine, Maia Sandu publicly condemned Russia, defining its action a violation of international law as well as the sovereignty and integrity of Ukrainian territory.
With Sandu, Moldova has repeatedly expressed support for the policies undertaken by the European Union, and it should be mentioned that strong ties exist between the two, so much so that trade agreements were concluded in 2014, which have contributed to making Moldova one of the most important trading partners for the European Union today.
In order to strenghten these relations and also because of the war in Ukraine, on 3 March 2022 the Moldovan country submitted a formal application for EU membership.
Moldova received operational support from Frontex, which is the European Border and Coast Guard Agency that has been assisting EU Member States and Schengen associated countries since 2004 by helping to protect the external borders of the EU area of free movement.
This support in favor of the Moldovan country and population was decided by the European Parliament on 24 March 2022. On the same day, the MEPs also agreed to provide Moldova with 150 million of euros to support external financing needs. Indeed, with the Russian-Ukrainian war, Moldova suffered severe trade losses and an impressive increase in energy prices, even more so than the countries within the EU.
Moldova’s path towards Europe took a further step forward on 5 May 2022, when MEPs adopted a resolution in which it was decided to provide greater support for the Moldovan cause, offering assistance both in economic terms and in terms of humanitarian aid.
In a resolution adopted on 5 May, the Parliament welcomed Moldova’s formal application for EU membership and stated that the EU should welcome its candidate status.
On this path, there was also an opportunity for President Sandu to refer to the European Parliament.
Thus on last 18th May 2022 Maia Sandu discussed in the European Parliament the impact the war in Ukraine is having on Moldova, as this country is particularly active in assisting Ukrainian refugees. In that occasion she declared as following: “I ask you to increase the EU’s support for Moldova – for the sake of Moldovans who want to preserve their democracy and freedom, but also for the sake of Europe – to have a stable, predictable and reliable partner and contributor to peace in its eastern neighbourhood”, adding that “Our independence, peaceful development, economic and political reforms must have an anchor and this anchor is a clear perspective of EU accession, the status of a candidate country.”
After this intervention, last 19th May 2022 the EU Parliament approved a resolution in order to give strategic support to Moldova precisely because of its application for EU membership.
Unfortunately, today the conflict in Ukraine has not stopped and does not seem to want to stop. Precisely for this reason Moldova continues to live an extremely delicate and complex situation.
The European Union fully understands the situation and intends to support the population in every possible way.
In today’s historical context, therefore, reaffirming the commitment to Moldova’s accession to the EU means making a fundamental contribution to the diffusion of those principles of democracy and freedom on which the European Union itself is founded, which it also intends to transmit to Moldovan territory.
On Wednesday 19th April 2023, a resolution was therefore adopted with 555 votes in favour, 49 against and 26 abstentions, reaffirming how membership of Moldova would represent an investment in the creation of a stronger and more united Europe.
The approved text reaffirms the European commitment to facilitate Moldova’s future membership to the EU, and in particular intends:
-to start EU accession negotiations by the end of 2023, once the milestones identified by the Commission have been completed
– to encourage the Moldovan government to continue with its reform agenda on democracy and the rule of law, to intensify work on the full and effective implementation of the EU Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, to fight organised crime and serious forms of international and transnational crime, and to pursue efforts to increase the country’s energy security.
Furthermore, the recent resolution calls on Member States to sanction all those who intend to destabilise Moldova and its government. The MEPs therefore call on European states to broaden the scope of the EU’s comprehensive human rights sanctions regime to include among punishable offences those acts of corruption that undermine a country’s security, stability, constitutional order and democratic institutions.
Finally, the parliament condemned the pressure Russia exerts on Moldova in terms of energy supply, which is why it intends to continue supporting the country so that it can finally achieve energy independence.
In conclusion, the European Parliament once again pronounced itself in favour of the Moldovan country’s entry into the European Union, following that path of enlargement of the European Union, which aims to be stronger and fairer, both globally and particularly in each of its national territories.
The Moldavian case is a very special one, as this country is faced with issues arising from the Russian-Ukrainian war, such as those related to energy, the crisis of the national economy, and those related to attempts to destabilise the pro-European incumbent government.
However, the European Union is confident that Moldova can legitimately and quickly join the large European family, also considering the positive assessment of the leadership and political courage shown by President Maia Sandu. In addition to this, the country has also been recognised for its determination and responsibility in the choices it has made so far to face these great challenges.
European Parliament therefore strongly believes that continuing along the path already started through the various political actions and reforms implemented by Moldova will lead to the inclusion of a new country in the European Union. A country, such as Moldova, which, if it joins Europe, will finally have the standards of democracy and freedom that it has long been demanding.