08. March 2021
Moldova is among the European Union’s Eastern Partners one of the closely integrated countries enjoying benefits of Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA). Among the EU’s Eastern Partners Moldova, together with Ukraine and Georgia has clearly been among the most successful in conducting reforms necessary for closer integration with the EU.
Moldova has a working democracy with competitive electoral environment, and the freedoms of assembly, speech, and religion are mostly protected. However, Moldovan political system is still a developing one, where democratic institutions remain weak and progress in establishing rule of law and protection of freedoms has been uneven. Nevertheless, it could be said that Moldova has achieved moderate success, although there also have been relapses, in implementing many key reforms necessary for developing country’s political systems and economic performance and integrating more closely with the EU.
The result of presidential elections in December 2020, where pro-European Maia Sandu won, and the results of recent public opinion polls show growing support for pro-European political forces. The new President Maia Sandu has called for action to stop corruption and the expropriation of state assets, strengthen anti-corruption institutions and involving the EU in their investigations and establishing an independent judiciary. Currently there are political disagreements, whether there is a need for an early Parliamentary election. If there will be early Parliamentary elections in 2021 there is the possibility that a new Government could be formed, which is ready to implement substantial pro-European reforms to improve Moldova’s democratic governance and market economy. If the Government is formed by present Parliamentary majority, the progress with reforms could be slower.
Moldova is a small lower-middle-income economy by global standards, but at the same time being among the poorest countries in Europe, it has made significant progress in reducing poverty and promoting economic growth since the early 2000s, although the distribution of this wealth has been uneven in society. A closer integration with EU has anchored successive governments’ policy reform agendas and made possible increasing closer cooperation with EU in economic field. However, the country’s economy remains dependent of agricultural exports and is weakened by the great number of its people working abroad. During the last year Moldova has been also seriously affected by COVID-19 crisis, which has led to drop of GDP by several points. However, if Moldova succeeds overcoming political and economic obstacles and continues on a pro-European course, it can achieve progress in Government controlled territory in building democracy, better governance and more productive and diversified market economy, even if the problems with reintegration of Transnistria persist.
Please read the full analysis by ECEAP Senior Research Fellow Aap Neljas here: Analysis of Moldovan Political Situation and Reforms 2019-2020