On 7 February, the European Union and Moldova held their first Association Council in Brussels since Moldova became a candidate country for European Union membership and since the start of Russian aggression against Ukraine. The meeting was co-chaired by EU High Representative Josep Borrell and Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavriliţa.
The sides discussed EU-Moldova relations, with a focus on political dialogue and reforms, economic and sectoral cooperation, in particular in the energy sector, trade and trade-related issues, as well as cooperation and rapprochement in the foreign and security policy area. Borrell especially highlighted Moldova’s efforts to receive refugees from Ukraine and to support the European Union Solidarity Lanes, which allow Ukraine’s agricultural exports and economy to reach global markets.
In the margins of the Association Council, Moldova joined the European Union Customs and Fiscal (Fiscalis) programmes, as well as the EU4Health programme.
At the same time, Borrell announced that the EU was exploring possibilities for reducing roaming charges between the EU and Moldova. The EU will also support Moldova’s efforts towards the modernisation of its payment system to fulfil the conditions for integration into the Single Euro Payments Area.
The EU and Moldova also agreed to develop a Priority Action Plan for Moldova. This will help to advance key areas of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and speed up Moldova’s access to the EU Single Market.
“Let me remind [you] that, since the last Association Council, we have delivered or pledged over €1 billion in assistance, and that the Economic and Investment Plan still has a significant potential, which needs to be fully tapped to support your reforms agenda. Certainly, we encourage Moldova to make the best use of it,” the EU High Representative told a press conference following the Council.
He added that the EU and Moldova were working to improve the sustainability of Moldova’s defence sector, which has received €47 million in support over the past 18 months under the European Peace Facility.
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