The announcement was made during a joint press conference of EC president, Jose Manuel Barroso, Romanian PM Victor Ponta and Moldovan Premier Iurie Leanca, Friday, in Brussels.
«I’m extremely pleased to announce today that after considerable efforts by the Moldovan authorities over the last three years, the Commission’s report on Visa Liberalisation which we are publishing this morning concludes that Moldova meets all the benchmarks set. Following the Eastern Partnership Summit, the European Commission will present a legislative proposal to lift visa requirements for Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport. This is very good news for citizens and a very tangible element towards a closer political association and economic integration with the European Union, because we are also speaking here about people to people contact. We are making this European path a reality”, president Barroso announced. In an earlier press release, the EC “considers that Republic of Moldova meets all the benchmarks set in the four blocks of the second phase of the VLAP”: “the reform of the Ministry of Interior has been completed, judicial cooperation in criminal matters with EU Member States and international police cooperation has been improved as well as cooperation with Ukraine in the area of border management”.
President Barroso underlined that the “meeting between the Commission, the government of one of our Member States and the government of such a close partner and friend that we are expecting to become politically associated and economically integrated with the European Union” was a “great première”. On the occasion, he expressed special thanks to Romania and personally to Prime Minister Ponta for “his strong support, not only to the European path of Moldova but also to the Eastern Partnership, which is very much appreciated”. He also thanked Prime Minister Leanca for “his strong European commitment”.
The main focus of the meeting between Barroso, Ponta and Leanca was the strategic issue of energy interconnections. “Every European citizen should have access to safe and affordable energy. No European nation should be an energy island – isolated from European networks.
And Moldova, as a member of the Energy Community, should be free to choose the same rights of access to the energy internal market if it wishes”, Barroso underlined. He said that the two main short-term priorities identified were the Iasi-Ungheni gas interconnector which will enable gas deliveries from Romania all the way to Chisinau and the most important electricity project, the back-to-back station on the Vulcanesti-Isaccea grid, which will allow Moldova to increase electricity imports from Romania to up to half of Moldova’s yearly power consumption. “The EU has already provided EUR 7 million towards the Iasi-Ungheni gas interconnector project, which is currently under construction, and we are also financing the feasibility study for Moldova and Ukraine’s connection to the ENTSO-E electricity system”, he emphasized.
The meeting between the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova and the Prime Minister of a European Union country is a very strong message on the importance of the Eastern Partnership and a sign of vision, Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta said during the joint press conference. ‘I want to assert once more Romania’s Government’s resolution to use all possible resources – from the national budget, structural and cohesion funds, through accessing other European programmes – to develop these energy and transport infrastructure projects,’ he added quoted by Agerpres. The funding and implementing manner are still worked on, the Romanian Prime Minister said, who mentioned that Romania, the Republic of Moldova and the European Commission would identify and present all the resources and all the procedures for these essential projects to the Republic of Moldova and to the European Union to be achieved.
Moldova’s Prime Minister Iurie Leanca on Friday hailed in Brussels the conduct of joint energy projects with Romania. During the joint press conference with Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta and the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, Leanca said that thanks to the excellent cooperation with Romania and the European Commission construction works on the Iasi-Ungheni gas pipeline started on August 27 and they are to be completed in the first quarter of 2014. He mentioned that the pipeline is highly important to ensure Moldova’s energy security. ‘We are on the right track and this way it would be much easier for us to accomplish a safer energy system that will be less vulnerable to all sorts of regional oscillations,’ Leanca explained according to Agerpres. He said he discussed electricity interconnections with Ponta and Barroso, and that projects in this field will be implemented in the period immediately ahead.
He also hailed Barroso’s remarks on Friday at the joint press conference that the European Commission will propose at the Vilnius summit meeting that visa requirements on Moldovan nationals travelling to the EU be lifted. ‘This is news that Moldova’s citizens have been waiting for. I go home with a feeling of great joy,’ said Leanca. He also reiterated Moldova’s commitment to continue European reforms, mentioning that Moldova will initial in Vilnius the association and free trade agreements with the EU.
The EC further supports Romania and Bulgaria on the path to Schengen space accession
The president of the European Executive, Jose Manuel Barroso, expressed hope that his remarks to a French TV station, earlier last week, were well understood in Romania and stressed he felt the urge to make a difference between lifting restrictions on the labor market and the Schengen accession. ‘Yes, I said about Schengen that it will not be possible starting January 1, 2014 , because of the opposition of some Member States towards accession to the Schengen zone of Romania and Bulgaria. I also said that, in the view of the Commission, Romania and Bulgaria meet the technical conditions required. So, the Commission’s position has not changed, we continue to support Bulgaria and Romania on this path. But I have to be realistic and say that the decision is taken by the Member States and, as you know, this is not yet possible for various reasons’, said the head of the EU Executive quoted by Agerpres. He added that, with this regard, he cannot commit a specific date for the accession of the two countries.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta stated that, from his standpoint, it is clear that Romania and Bulgaria meet the conditions for membership. ‘Especially as concerns the air borders, both Romania and Bulgaria have perfectly secured borders and there is no technical explanation, or of some other nature, to prevent this entry. What Romania and Bulgaria were supposed to do, they’ve done it, and the Commission confirmed, further on it is a political decision of the Member States’, the head of the Romanian Government pointed out. ‘I want to once again hail the extremely fair and pro-European approach of President Barroso on this issue, the fact he explained there is amalgamation of various matters that have no connection to each other, i.e. between Schengen, the labour migration, the Roma issue and many other things pertaining to the domestic policy and that, yes, the gravest danger to Europe in the years to come is the danger of extremism, of populism, of excessive nationalism. It is a peril now impinging on Romania and Bulgaria, but it might impact on Moldova or on other countries’, Ponta told during the joint press conference.