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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article12 October 2023Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations4 min read

Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with Moldovan President Sandu

President Von der Leyen visit in Moldova

Dear Maia, Madam President,

It is very good to see you again. We saw each other at the European Political Community in Granada last week. And indeed, as you said, six months ago, you also hosted this very special Summit of the European Political Community, right here in Chişinău. And you did it brilliantly. It was natural for us to gather in Moldova. Because Europe's heart beats so strongly here. Moldova has shown time and again how vibrantly European it is and how deeply committed it is to its EU accession path. This is what I am here to talk about today.

As you know, at the beginning of November, the Commission will present its annual report on enlargement. Along with others, it will assess Moldova's progress as a candidate country. And this assessment will then feed into the crucial discussions at the December European Council Summit. The stakes are very high. These discussions will have a direct impact on your future as an EU country. So, allow me to make two points on the ongoing assessment.

First, you are making excellent progress. And I am very impressed to see Moldova's determination to move forward. This is thanks to your leadership, Maia, and to the hard work of the Moldovan people. And we are very grateful for that. Second, I encourage you to continue to actively participate in this accession process. And only you can do it. We have reviewed your progress on the latest reforms and on the challenges you are facing. And now is the time to be focused and to double down on every effort. Because you can do it. Moldova has already come such a long way, despite so many obstacles and the Russian threat to its democracy. From pressure on your energy system, to vicious attempts to undermine your sovereignty through blackmail, hybrid attacks and disinformation.

I said it from the very beginning: The EU's solidarity with Moldova is unshakeable. And this is underpinned by action. Let me mention five points. First of all, we have been providing unprecedented financial support to Moldova. EUR 1.2 billion since October 2021. And of course, more is coming. I am happy to say that we will disburse still this year an additional almost EUR 143 million in budget support and macro-financial assistance. Among others, indeed, this funding will go to vulnerable households in Moldova who must deal with high energy prices.

Second, our Economic and Investment Plan is also fully at work, with EUR 900 million mobilised so far. This money has been invested in the competitiveness of Moldovan businesses, in better energy efficiency, meaning lower energy bills for citizens, and in infrastructure that brings you closer to us through, for example, the Trans-European Network for Transport.

My third point is that we are working on the package of concrete support measures I presented here in Chişinău back in May. Together, we are making Moldova more resilient against security threats of all kinds. So far, Moldova's armed forces have benefited from EUR 87 million worth of European Peace Facility support. We are working on a new envelope of EUR 50 million for 2024. So, Moldova is set to become one of the main beneficiaries of the Peace Facility.

Fourth, I am also pleased that the EU Partnership Mission to Moldova is now fully operational. It will be a crucial ally in our fight against hybrid and cyber threats. We need you on our side. In today's world, security of course also includes energy security. And indeed, we have not forgotten how difficult the last winter has been. But we have made it, by standing together, by jointly facing the challenges and overcoming them. This is a big story of success, but it also shows how important it is to stand by each other. This is why it is so important that Moldova can now also participate in our joint gas purchase platform. This allows all of us, 27 Member States, with Moldova, Ukraine, Norway and Serbia, to pull our weight, to secure supplies and negotiate good prices.

Finally, on a very practical note, we will start, indeed, lowering roaming charges between the European Union and Moldova as of 1 January. This was very dear to my heart. It will make it easier to travel. And it is a great way of bringing people together, as they experience travelling through the European Union. And we have found a way to waive the fees for the EU programmes. We want you in these programmes. It is good to have you here. For example, Horizon Europe, the excellent research programme, but also the Union's Civil Protection Mechanism. We are very proud that you joined these programmes, we need you, you are excellent in this field. And of course, the Connecting Europe Facility.

Dear Maia,

You have long proven that your future is in our Union by standing up for the values we hold dear: democracy, freedom, and solidarity. Most recently, you welcomed your neighbours from Ukraine, whom you sheltered from the war. You are playing a vital role in the success of our solidarity lanes, bringing much needed grain in and out of Ukraine. And here too, we will invest in your regions so that they develop into good transport hubs with modern facilities. You have once more shown that the European Union can really count on you. So, well done. I am glad to have you by my side. Let us keep up the good work. We hope to welcome you soon as a full member of our family.