Barroso hails Moldova’s progress towards Association Agreement


Moldova’s European future is the best way to guarantee a united, democratic modern and prosperous Moldova, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has told the Moldova Investment Conference in his opening remarks yesterday, informs.
“There is no doubt that Moldova is a European country. So there can be no doubt about the European Union’s special commitment to it,” he said, pointing to the long-awaited Association Agreement between Moldova and the EU that would be signed in a few weeks’ time – a “milestone in our political relationship, while the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area included will add tremendously to the momentum in our economic partnership,” Barroso said.
Almost a decade on from the launch of the joint EU-Moldova Action Plan in 2005, President Barroso hailed the “stunning progress” made by Moldova since then.
He pointed to recent concrete achievements – the recently achieved right to visa-free travel to the EU – “you became the first among the 76 million of citizens living in the Union’s Eastern neighbourhood countries to get this possibility” – and the common aviation area that is coming into place, making air travel cheaper.
“Such initiatives are only the beginning,” he added. “Much more will be needed to unlock the untapped potential within Moldova’s economy. Only you can really make that happen but we, as European Union, can help you do so.”
Barroso insisted that the Association Agreement was much more than just a trade agreement. “To bring lasting development, to create real jobs, trade needs to grow on the foundations of a rules-based economy and value-based institutions. Corruption needs to be countered vigorously. The legal system has to be independent. Governance has to be effective and accountable. Business has to respect governance and transparency rules, under the supervision of powerful regulators independent from political influence.”
But he warned it was not in itself an answer to all the country’s problems. “It remains up to Moldovan businesses to reap its full potential, and it remains up to the Moldovan government to make sure they can do so. Transformation and modernisation can only come from inside and not the outside.”
“We do not export ready-made solutions – we offer a helping hand,” he said, warning that much remained to be done – competition needed to be incentivised and nurtured, monopolies broken down, and the right regulation put in place.
Barroso insisted the European Union was not involved in Moldovan politics and that Moldova would “not relinquish an inch of its sovereignty” – “ultimately the reforms that this Agreement entails are not meant to please Brussels but to benefit the country and its people.”  He also stressed that the Association Agreement was not intended to compete with or intrude on Moldova’s relations with any of its other partners, in particular Russia.
Barroso concluded by saying that Moldova had invested heavily in its future: “We, in the European Union, share your faith and energy and want to work together in this effort.”