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The EU cooperates with Moldova in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy and its eastern regional dimension, the Eastern Partnership. The key goal is to bring Moldova closer to the EU.
EU assistance to Moldova supports the objectives of the EU-Moldova Association Agreement and the 20 Deliverables for 2020. It is linked to the country's reform commitments under the Association Agreement. It aims at improving the quality of life of ordinary Moldovans in a tangible and visible manner, strengthening the rule of law, as well as improving the business climate, with a view to reaping the benefits from the DCFTA (Deep and comprehensive free trade area), and supporting greater connectivity between Moldova and the EU in the areas of energy and transport. The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) is the EU financial instrument dedicated to the Neighbourhood for the period 2014-2020. It replaces the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) of 2007-2013. Other possible funding sources are the thematic programmes, focused on human rights and civil society and the macro-financial assistance.
EU assistance to Moldova takes mainly the form of country Action Programmes funded every year under the ENI. Moldova benefits also from regional and multi-country Action Programmes funded under the ENI.
The European Union adopted the new EU multiannual programing document for the period 2017-2020 (Single Support Framework). It is based on the Eastern Partnership priorities to achieve a: 1/stronger economy, 2/ stronger governance, 3/ stronger connectivity and 4/ stronger society. In addition, it includes horizontal support to civil society, strategic communication, and capacity development/institution building.
EU assistance is based on strict conditionality, and is linked to the satisfactory progress in reforms and the respect of the rule of law, effective democratic mechanisms and human rights. A number of worrying developments in 2018 have pointed to a deterioration of the rule of law and democracy in Moldova.
In light of this deterioration, and in line with the principle of strict conditionality, the European Commission has taken the decision to recalibrate its financial assistance and redirect support to projects that have a direct, positive impact on Moldovan citizens. Payments under the EU budget support programmes have also been put on hold, pending tangible progress on the respect of the rule of law and democratic principles.
Therefore, under the annual action programme for 2017, a total of €56 million has been allocated to projects in the following areas:
- support to citizens' empowerment to engage in local decision making and participatory budgeting,
- support to increase access to finance in local currency for SMEs and start-ups,
- support to strategic communication and independent media,
- infrastructure project to build the electricity interconnection between Romania and Moldova,
- assistance to the Moldova-Ukraine border mission (EUBAM) with a special focus on Transnistrian conflict settlement.
Under the annual action programme for 2018, a total of € 50.75 million has been allocated to the following areas:
- the inclusive socio-economic development of two focal regions (districts of Cahul and Ungheni),
- the peaceful settlement of the Transnistrian conflict through the support of confidence building measures between the two banks of the Nistru river,
- strengthening the rule of law and anti-corruption mechanisms such as the systems of asset declaration and asset recovery,
- support to the gender mainstreaming in local policies and the fight against gender-based violence,
- support to the international exchanges of Moldovan students through the Erasmus + programme and to mobility opportunities for European researchers.
Moldova also benefits from regional programmes for the Eastern Partnership region, supporting SMEs, energy, transport, environment, access to finance, growth as well as the overall business environment. Moldova also participates in Cross Border Cooperation (CBC) programmes such as the Black Sea Programme, the Romania-Ukraine-Moldova ENPI Land-Border Programme, and the Danube Transnational Programme.
In addition to the ENI, Moldova is eligible for funding under the EU thematic programmes: the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities, Human Development and Migration & Asylum.