10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership – a good opportunity to know what it means for the Republic of Moldova

10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership – a good opportunity to know what it means for the Republic of Moldova
1. What is the Eastern Partnership about? Does it mean EU membership?

The Eastern Partnership brings together the EU, its member states, and its six Eastern neighbours – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership

For the last ten years, the partners have been working together to build a common area of democracy, prosperity and stability. In everyday life, this means a stronger economy, stronger institutions and greater trust, a cleaner environment, safe and sustainable energy supply, opportunities for people across society and especially the young: ultimately, it means a better quality of life for all.

The Eastern Partnership does not mean EU membership, but it does provide the framework for countries to build a closer relationship with the European Union, if they choose to do so.

2. What is the EU's interest in the partnership? Why should the EU spend taxpayers’ money to help other countries?

The European Union’s interest is very clear: stable, secure and prosperous neighbours are vital for the EU's own stability, security and prosperity – “We must export stability… to avoid importing instability,” in the words of the EU's Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy, Johannes Hahn.

At the same time, the Eastern Partnership opens new markets and consumers for businesses on both sides, especially through free trade agreements like the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between the EU and the Republic of Moldova. The partnership also opens new markets for tourism, and the opportunity for young people – from both sides – to exchange, travel and broaden their experience.

So a stronger Republic of Moldova also means a stronger European Union.

3. OK, so the EU invests money, but is there proper control of where the money goes and how it is spent?

EU funds always face rigorous monitoring and reporting procedures – both internal and external – in order to assess the value and impact of actions, and with strict financial auditing to make sure the money spent is properly accounted for. Even when dealing with state budget support, money is only released when agreed targets have been met – and the EU can and does hold back payment until it can see credible action to put objectives back on track.

Fighting corruption is a top priority in European cooperation with its Eastern partners, with many actions supporting the rule of law, transparency, and effective public administration. And ensuring that European funds are properly spent not only contributes to a stronger economy and society in each partner country, it ensures that citizens – both Moldovan and from EU member states – can truly enjoy the benefits of closer partnership.

4. So what are the concrete benefits for the Republic of Moldova?

The Republic of Moldova is a priority partner for the European Union, a partnership underlined by the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, which came into force in 2016.

It means Moldovan exports to the European Union are rising – up 33% in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017, and with the EU accounting for 70% of Moldova’s total exports and 56% of total trade. It means that cooperation projects have provided support for 5,000 enterprises in Moldova, and that 10 business incubators have been set up with EU support.

Around 700 kilometres of roads have been upgraded, and new water infrastructure has been built with EU support, delivering clean drinking water to 15,700 homes. Biomass heating systems have been installed in more than 225 schools, kindergartens, community centres and village halls, significantly cutting bills thanks to EU cooperation programmes.

EU support has also opened travel, study and professional opportunities for Moldovans: there have been more than 1.5 million visa-free visits to the EU since visa-free travel for Moldovans came into force in April 2014, while nearly 1,900 student and academic staff exchanges have taken place between Moldova and the EU in the last 10 years, as part of the Erasmus+ exchange programme.

5. And for me?

It could be you: people from all walks of life have seen a direct impact from EU support – people like Olesea Lisâi, who has opened her own bridal and evening attire salon thanks to an EU programme that matches migrant investments in local businesses. Or company director Victor Gutu and the employees at AMG Kernel, Europe's biggest walnut farm based in Soroca, which benefitted from a €2.5 million loan supported by the EU, enabling the company to modernise its facilities and target European markets

On the outskirts of Bălți, young mother Ana Tudos and the residents of 90 other apartments in her block are saving 30-40% on bills, thanks to an EU grant for thermal insulation and energy efficiency. And in the village of Taraclia near Căuşeni, Vlada, a child with Down’s Syndrome, receives regular visits from a mobile team that includes a social worker, a psychologist and a physiotherapist – one of five such teams created with EU support and working in Căuşeni, Gagauzia, Ștefan Vodă, Tiraspol and Slobozia.

6. OK, I am interested - how can I track all these opportunities? How can I find something that might be useful to me?

The EU NEIGHBOURS website tracks and publishes all the latest EU opportunities. Whether it's a study visit for youth workers to Finland, a traineeship at the European Parliament, a culture training course, or funding for energy efficiency measures, you’ll find all the opportunities in the dedicated section of the EU Neighbours website.

If you are a small business or an entrepreneur, you will also find a wide range of training and funding opportunities on the EU4Business website, while young people interested in exchange and study opportunities should check out the national Erasmus+ office in the Republic of Moldova.

You should also visit the website of the EU Delegation in the Republic of Moldova, which has dedicated sections for jobs & funding, travel & study and its social media pages.

7. 10 years have passed: what’s next?

2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership. Over the past decade, the efforts of the EU and its partner countries have brought more trade, mobility, economic development and better quality of life.

But the partnership does not stop there: the EU and its Eastern partners have set 20 key targets to be achieved by next year – known as the ‘20 Deliverables for 2020’ – and efforts are ongoing to meet those targets across good government, economic development, energy, environment and transport, and stronger society, as well as on gender equality, the media and civil society.