30 Years of the European Journey: How Moldova came one step closer to becoming a member of the EU with full rights

For more than 30 years, the Republic of Moldova has followed its European path. After declaring independence, the country moved closer to the EU and began to strengthen its relations with the community member states. The period was marked by both positive moments and difficult moments, which made us reevaluate the realities we live in, ask for changes, offer appreciation, and say frankly what we want, how and where we see our future.

1994 – the first step was taken by Moldova towards the EU

In November 1994, the Republic of Moldova joined the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. It entered into force in 1998 and is valid for 10 years, with the possibility of extension. The document establishes Moldovan-European bilateral relations in politics, trade, economy, justice, and culture and aims to strengthen democracy in our country, sustainable development, and promotion of trade and investment.

2005 – Action plan Moldova – European Union

The beginning of the millennium is marked by massive migrations of the Moldovan population. People struggle with poverty, and lack of jobs, some receive food and various goods instead of wages and pensions. In search of a better life, Moldovans leave their homeland, lured by the opportunities offered by the European community, better living conditions, bigger profits, and a better future for their children. Many leave illegally and cannot return for years, until they are legalized, and the documents are perfected. Some have to borrow enormous sums to get to the EU, and the journey takes months and is not on roads, but rather through forests or swamps. About it will only be known in years to come.

Meanwhile, in 2005, our country takes a new step towards the European Union. The Cooperation Council approves the Moldova-EU action plan, developed by the European Neighborhood Policy. Initially, the document was valid for three years, but it was extended several times.
The action plan provides for ensuring political dialogue between the parties. The reforms initiated by Chisinau, bilateral relations, security topics, foreign policy, and other matters of common interest are discussed.

2008 – Mobility partnership and combating illegal migration

The joint declaration on the Moldova-EU Mobility Partnership was signed in 2008, in Luxembourg. The document refers to the fight against illegal migration and human trafficking. The mechanisms are created to deal with the phenomena. According to the data of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, since 2008 more than 110 initiatives have been implemented. They are still being implemented in the field of migration, document security, and combating illegal phenomena of migration. After four years, it is established that the Republic of Moldova is an example of success in implementing mobility policies.

2009 – Moldova declares that it wants to live differently

April 2009 remains in history as the moment when Moldova made its voice heard. Dissatisfied with the PCRM policy and the results of the parliamentary elections, people take to the streets to demand a different future, political forces join the protests, and the events degenerate into violence. The crowd destroys the Parliament and the Presidency, and the authorities threaten to use weapons. The communist government and the pro-European opposition are blaming each other for the hostilities, but the events certainly marked the beginning of the end for Voronin’s administration. Early parliamentary elections will follow, which brought the pro-Europeans to power and numerous political crises, generated by disagreements between the coalition parties and the impossibility of electing the head of state.

A month later, after the tragic events in the Center of the Capital, Moldova reiterates its desire to follow the path to accession. On May 7, 2009, the first summit of the Eastern Partnership took place in Prague. Six countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine express their desire to deepen relations with the EU and strengthen cooperation. The partnership is part of the European Neighborhood Policy, which aims, in the context of the 2004 expansion, to collaborate with its neighbors from the south and east, to reach political association and economic integration as strongly as possible.

2014 – Getting the green light for travel and signing the Association Agreement

While Moldova-EU relations are advancing, in 2014 the “Association Agreement between the Republic of Moldova, the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their member states” was signed. The document replaces the Partnership Agreement of 1994, and negotiations were initiated as early as 2008.

Using the Agreement, Moldova’s membership in the European value space is recognized and our country’s progress in the cooperation process with the EU is appreciated. The parties emphasized the importance of respecting the values ​​that each one share, especially democracy, respect for human rights, and ensuring a sustainable economy. At the same time, the foundations are laid for creating the Free Trade Zone, the mutual opening of markets, and the gradual adoption by Moldova of European norms and standards.

In the same year, the first Moldovan citizen officially entered the European Union, with a biometric passport and without a visa. On April 28, 2014, liberalization came into force, and by 2020, six million trips by Moldovans to the European Union were reported.
The EU authorities mention the responsibility of Moldovan citizens to comply with the terms of stay. According to Frontex statistics, in previous years only 0.5% of those who arrived in the EU did so illegally.

In 2022, the war push Moldova into the arms of the EU

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushes Moldova into the arms of the EU. Shortly after the start of the war, Chisinau signed and submits the membership application. It happens on March 3, and in the same circumstances, similar requests are sent by Kyiv and Tbilisi. On June 17, 2022, the Republic of Moldova receives the status of a candidate country for accession, and the path to the EU becomes irreversible, the Chisinau authorities announce.
The Republic of Moldova receives European aid, overcomes the energy crisis of the winter of 2022, and Romania and Germany create a support platform. Bucharest becomes Chisinau’s lawyer in Brussels and repeatedly asks for support for us, against the background of the hybrid threats that are being talked about more and more.

2023 – Moldova submits the progress report, and the EU Parliament requests the opening of negotiations

In a resolution adopted in April 2023, MEPs declare that the accession of the Republic of Moldova to the EU would represent a geostrategic investment in a united and strong Europe. They demand that the negotiations be opened by the end of 2023, if the Republic of Moldova fulfills the nine stages identified by the European Commission necessary for the opening of the negotiations. The Chisinau government is requested to advance reforms and further implement the provisions of the association agreement. At the same time, the Europeans declare themselves ready to sanction those who want to destabilize Moldova. A week later, Moldova sends a report of about 1000 pages, regarding the progress of the accession. This becomes our country’s first contribution to the community expansion process.

When do we join the EU, and what does the CPE Summit in Chisinau bring us?

Chisinau has stated several times that the goal for Moldova is to become a full member of the EU in the year 2030. Some voices say that if it does not happen under the current circumstances, the process could be delayed indefinitely. Meanwhile, on June 1, 2023, dozens of heads of state from the continent will come to Chisinau, the European Political Community Summit being organized in the Republic of Moldova. The event is the biggest ever hosted by us, and Moldova becomes the center of the European political world for a few days – another strong message to the whole world that we are European.

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