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EU - Moldova Relations

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.

On 3 March 2022, the Republic of Moldova presented its applications for EU membership. On 17 June 2022, the European Commission presented its Opinions on the application for EU membership submitted by Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova.

Based on the Commission’s Opinion on the country’s application for EU membership, Moldova was given a European perspective and granted candidate status on 23 June 2022 by unanimous agreement between the leaders of all 27 EU Member States. Candidate status was granted on the understanding that Moldova take some key steps. The Commission will monitor their progress in fulfilling these steps and report on them, as part of its regular enlargement package.

EU assistance to Moldova supports the renewed agenda for the Eastern Partnership focusing on recovery, resilience and reform agreed at the 2021 Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels, and 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 Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), and supporting greater connectivity between Moldova and the EU in the areas of energy and transport.

The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) was the EU financial instrument dedicated to the Neighbourhood for the period 2014-2020. It has been replaced by the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) – ‘Global Europe’ for the period 2021-2027. The EU’s indicative bilateral allocation to Moldova for the period 2021-2024 amounts to €260 million.

EU assistance to Moldova takes mainly the form of country Action Programmes. Moldova benefits also from regional and multi-country Action Programmes funded under NDICI. Other possible funding sources are the thematic programmes, focused on human rights and civil society, and macro-financial assistance.

Bilateral cooperation

Programming of strategic priorities for EU support to Moldova for the period 2021-2027 is ongoing. It is based on the Eastern Partnership two pillars of Investment and Governance, with a focus on five key objectives:       

  1. Together for a resilient, sustainable and integrated economy;
  2. Together for accountable institutions, the rule of law and security;
  3. Together for environmental and climate resilience;
  4. Together for a resilient digital transformation;
  5. Together for resilient, gender equal, fair and inclusive societies.

EU assistance is based on strict conditionality, and is linked to satisfactory progress in reforms and the respect of the rule of law, effective democratic mechanisms and human rights.

EU Solidarity with Moldova – most recent initiatives

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has particularly affected Moldova with over 600,000 refugees entering the country and around 80,000 still on Moldovan territory. Relative to its population of just over 2.5 million, Moldova is the country with the most refugees per capita. During these times of heightened vulnerability, the EU stands firmly with Moldova, an associated country with the EU and key partner in the Eastern Partnership.

On 10 November 2022, President von der Leyen and Commissioner Simson met Maia Sandu, the President of Moldova in Chisinau and presented an additional energy support package for Moldova to help the country face the acute energy crisis caused by Gazprom's sharp reduction of deliveries and Russia's increased attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure. Commission President von der Leyen pledged EUR 200 million to help Moldova meet its gas supply needs. This will consist of € 100 million in grants and €100 million in loans. The money should be available from January 2023. The EU will provide an additional € 50 million for budgetary support to Moldova. This will help provide support to those most vulnerable so that this is a targeted budgetary support.

On 21 November 2022, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Olivér Várhelyi was in Paris to represent the European Union in the Third Ministerial Conference of the Moldova Support Platform. He outlined the EU’s €250 million support to Moldova to tackle the energy crisis as announced by President von der Leyen in Chișinău on 10 November. Through the Moldova Support Platform, the EU and its partners are actively supporting Moldova to face the energy crisis and the humanitarian consequences of Russia's war against Ukraine

Factsheet: EU solidarity with the Republic of Moldova

EU support measures to Moldova

  • Humanitarian aid, civil protection and stability related assistance

As a response to the inflow of refugees from the war-torn Ukraine to Moldova, the European Commission has allocated €38 million for humanitarian operations, including €25 million announced in October 2022, implemented by humanitarian partners in Moldova (UN agencies, INGOs), to help the country cope with the flow of refugees into and through its territory.

On 25 February, Moldova activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism requesting assistance for management of migration flows. So far, 19 EU countries and Norway have provided emergency assistance to Moldova via the Mechanism. This includes deliveries of shelter equipment, medical supplies, power generators, and other essential items. A team of EU civil protection experts is in Moldova advising the authorities and coordinating incoming assistance.

The Commission also mobilised its rescEU medical stockpiles hosted by the Netherlands and Hungary to provide much-needed medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and patient monitors.

A rapid response measure with a budget of €8 million was announced under NDICI-GE to strengthen Moldova’s resilience to the crisis situation, which will support national efforts to increase the country’s cyber-security and resilience of its information space while also providing inclusive assistance to the government and population in managing the refugee influx resulting from the war in Ukraine.

Factsheet: EU crisis response to the war in Ukraine

  • Support for effective border and migration management

Moldovan border guards are facing challenges, both because of the high number of refugee arrivals on the territory and the fact that the border is shared with an active war zone.

The EU has therefore stepped up its support to Moldova for border management. The EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova (EUBAM) has been reinforced with €15 million. On 17 March, the European Union signed a legally binding agreement with the Republic of Moldova on border management cooperation between Moldovan border guards and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex). This agreement allowed for an additional deployment of Frontex teams to Moldova at the border, to provide increased technical and operational assistance.

Another €15 million under the EU funding instrument NDICI-Global Europe has been mobilised to support dignified and efficient treatment of refugees, secure transit and repatriation of third-country nationals, working with the International Organization for Migration.

Furthermore, following the activation of the Temporary Protection Directive on 4 March 2022 to grant temporary protection to those fleeing the war in Ukraine, the European Commission has set up a Solidarity Platform to coordinate cooperation and the exchange of information among EU Member States, in particular in relation to facilitate transfers of refugees from Moldova to Member States and to monitoring the reception capacities in each Member State.

Cooperation with Europol is also ongoing under the cooperation agreement. Following a fact-finding mission organized in March, Europol has deployed two European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) Specialists and Firearms analysts and two Guest Officers.

  • Energy

To help Moldova face the acute energy crisis caused by Gazprom’s sharp reduction of deliveries and Russia’s increased attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, the EU supports Moldova in improving its energy resilience and in ensuring stable electricity and gas supplies. With EU assistance, Moldova has made its first purchases of gas and electricity from the EU. Reduction in energy demand is also prioritised to ensure Moldova’s energy security.

On 16 March 2022, the electricity grid of Moldova was successfully synchronised with the Continental European Network. This will help Moldova to keep its electricity system stable under the current circumstances and is also a historic milestone for the EU-Moldova relationship.

In November 2022, the EU pledged an additional energy support package for the country of €200 million, to be disbursed from January 2023 and of which €100 million will be grants, in order to help the country meet its gas supply needs. The EU will also provide a further €50 million in grants to help Moldova address the negative spillover of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, bringing the EU’s total budget support to the country to €185 million since December 2021. In November 2021, a €15 million rapid response measure was also mobilised to support Moldova’s most vulnerable groups and its energy transition.

In August 2022, the EU disbursed a €75 million budget support grant for the energy sector. This assistance package supports the country to cope with the multiple repercussions in the energy sector of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine. In particular, it helps mitigate the socio-economic consequences of the high energy prices on the most vulnerable citizens and alleviate the economic strain resulted from hosting and supporting refugees. It also helps building the long-term socio-economic recovery, energy security and energy transition of the Republic of Moldova.

The EU is working with the Energy Community Secretariat to put in place an Energy Rescue Scheme for Moldova which will allow donors to support the energy purchase by Moldova. Ongoing advisory support is being provided by experts to Moldovan government and key institutions. The Energy Community Secretariat opened a new office in Chisinau to better assist Moldova in modernizing its energy sector and making it more secure and resilient to current and future challenges.

  • Financial assistance

The EU is the largest provider of financial assistance to Moldova. Over the years 2014-2020, Moldova has benefited from more than half a billion euros in grants and had access to an additional €200 million in loans and grants under two previous Macro-Financial Assistance programmes. The disbursement of the first tranche of a new Micro-Financial Assistance (MFA) package, worth €150 million and proposed by the Commission in January 2022. The MFA entered into force on 18 July 2022 and is available for two and a half years. On 1 August, the EU disbursed a first tranche of €50 million, of which €35 million in long-term loans on concessional terms and €15 million in grants.

EU assistance to Moldova supports the renewed agenda for the Eastern Partnership focusing on recovery, resilience and reform agreed at the 2021 Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels, and is linked to the country's reform commitments under the Association Agreement.

In the medium to long term, the EU continues to work together with Moldovan authorities to implement the Economic and Investment Plan (EIP). The EU supports Moldova with concrete investments to help post-pandemic recovery and improve the lives of Moldovan citizens. Under the EIP, the EU will mobilise around €3.4 billion in public and private investments for five flagships that have been identified together with the Moldovan authorities.

  1. Direct support for 50,000 Moldovan SMEs;
  2. Construction of an Inland Freight Terminal in Chisinau;
  3. Refurbishment of district heating systems in residential buildings in Chisinau and Balti;
  4. Anchoring Moldova in the Trans-European Network for Transport;
  5. Modernising school infrastructure
     
  • Support to trade and infrastructure

Since June 2022, the EU is granting additional duty-free access for one year for several agricultural products, which are not yet fully liberalised under the EU-Moldova DCFTA. This is a demonstration of the EU’s solidarity designed to help Moldova deal with the loss of its main markets and transit hubs for these key agricultural products resulting from Russia’s unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine.

Road transport agreements signed between the EU, Ukraine and Moldova will help ensure secure supply chains and food security. A €20 million grant for the modernisation of the railways will embed Moldova in the TEN-T network and will support the Solidarity Lanes initiative.

  • Support to security and defence

In July 2022, the EU launched the Support Hub for Internal Security and Border Management in Moldova. As an operational platform, the EU Support Hub will support cooperation on internal security and border management between the EU, its Agencies, the Member States and the Moldovan authorities. The hub will enhance the EU’s joint operational action with Moldova to address the challenges posed by organised crime, including the trafficking of firearms or trafficking in human beings. It will also help Moldova to participate in EU tools and instruments on internal security.

In order to enhance Moldova’s strategic communication capacities and fight against disinformation, support to independent media is ongoing, focusing on strategic communication, investigative journalism and tackling disinformation. Additionally, support is provided to local media and start-ups.

In the field of defence, €7 million from the European Peace Facility adopted in December 2021, will support the Republic of Moldova’s Armed Forces. It will help finance its field hospitals, ambulances, medical imaging and surgery equipment, as well as Explosive Ordnance Disposal kits, including essential equipment and vehicles. This will improve their ability to provide services to civilians in crises or emergency situations over the next 36 months. An additional €40 million adopted in June 2022 will strengthen the capacities of the Moldovan Armed Forces’ logistics, mobility, command and control, cyber-defence, unmanned aerial reconnaissance and tactical communications units by providing relevant non-lethal equipment, supplies and services, including equipment-related training.

EU Neighbours East

Further information

Factsheets available to download

Key documents

For specific information (programme level), see below