EU-Moldova Association Council: Press remarks by High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell at the joint press conference with Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița


Check against delivery! 

Madam Prime Minister [of Moldova], dear Natalia [Gavrilița], it is a great pleasure to welcome you here in Brussels again.

This is our first Association Council since Moldova became a European Union candidate country. And we have embarked on a new strategic phase in our relations.

But it is also the first meeting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We sincerely appreciate your incredible solidarity with Ukraine and with the Ukrainian people.

Moldova is playing a crucial role in the European Union Solidarity Lanes, which allows Ukraine's agricultural exports and economy to reach global markets. 

Without you, this would have been much more difficult or almost impossible. So, thank you for your engagement.

We know that, at the same time, Moldova has itself been deeply affected, deeply hit by the consequences of this unjustified war, which is sending shockwaves around the world and, in particular, to the countries which are closer to the conflict.

That is why, we, at the European Union, continue [to stand] in full solidarity with you.

Throughout the last year, we have considerably stepped up our humanitarian aid and our border management support. 

We beefed up your energy security. We have increased our macro-financial assistance. We have introduced support measures in trade and transport [sectors], and enhanced cooperation in security and defence.

Today, we discussed the main elements in our relations over the last year, as well as progress in the implementation of the European Union-Moldova Association Agreement. 

As it could not be otherwise, a key topic in our discussions was Moldova’s energy situation.

We are happy to see that, thanks to our joint efforts, Moldova is today more resilient and better prepared to face the challenges on the energy markets.

We are slowly going back to – let's say – a normal situation. But I know that we went [through] very difficult moments. 

We are expanding our sectoral cooperation.

We welcome the accession of Moldova to the European Union Customs and Fiscal [Fiscalis] programmes, as well as to the EU4Health programme, in the margins of this Association Council.

We are committed to explore possibilities for reducing roaming charges between the European Union and Moldova.

We will support Moldova’s efforts towards the modernisation of its payment system to fulfil the conditions for integration into the Single Euro Payments Area.

On our trade relations, today, we have agreed to develop a Priority Action Plan for Moldova.

This will help advance key areas of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and help speed up Moldova’s access to the European Union Single Market.

Let me remind [you] that, since the last Association Council, we have delivered or pledged over €1 billion in assistance, and that the Economic and Investment Plan still has a significant potential, which needs to be fully tapped to support your reforms agenda. Certainly, we encourage Moldova to make the best use of it.

One important part of our discussions, of our meeting, was how to deepen cooperation on foreign policy, on security and defence - which are at the core of the work of the High Representative. 

That is why I was so pleased to accompany you on these increased security challenges: on the repeated violations of Moldova’s air space, on the military debris falling on its territory, on hybrid and cyber threats, and on rampant disinformation. Today, I have been talking a lot about disinformation; your case is a very good case about it.

Last year, we launched a High-level Dialogue on political and security matters, where we cooperate on cyber security, addressing hybrid threats and disinformation. 

We are working together to increase the resilience of Moldova’s defence sector, with €47 million of support under the European Peace Facility in the past 18 months.

And lastly, on the issue of [the] Transnistrian conflict, we reaffirmed our commitment to facilitate a comprehensive, peaceful and sustainable settlement process on the basis of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Moldova, within its internationally recognised borders, with a special status for Transnistria.

Now, we encourage continued dialogue between the sides to enhance confidence-building and avoid destabilisation. 

As you see, it has been a rich agenda with a lot of issues and deliverables. 

Dear Prime Minister,

Amidst all the challenges that you are facing, that your country is facing, we commend your continued commitment to advance in important justice reforms, in fighting corruption and bringing its [your] electoral legislation in line with international recommendations.

Dear Prime Minister, all these efforts are particularly important in the context of Moldova’s status as EU candidate country.

We know that the European Union integration process is intensive, demanding and time-consuming, that each country is assessed on its own merit and will progress with its own speed.

But I can safely say – after having this meeting with you – that the future of Moldova and its citizens is clearly within the European Union. 


On the eve of the Association Council meeting, the European Commission made public the country Progress Reports for Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia. But these documents attest the situation until June 2022. How do you appreciate the political situation and the reforms progress in Moldova after June 2022?

Thank you for the question. Let me clarify that the aim of these analytical reports is not to give an update on the fulfilment of the priorities or the steps [made] by the three countries who are on the European path. 

They focus on their alignment with the European Union acquis. And from 2023, the [European] Commission’s annual Enlargement package will include the three countries and will report on their progress regarding the steps and priorities you find in the Opinions. So, this is important to clarify which is the purpose and the scope of this Analytical report.

Nevertheless, it is important to focus on what this report says, and it says that Moldova has done important work regarding science and research, regarding external relations and on energy – as a result of Moldova’s response to the energy crisis, which has been very efficient and positive.

The Analytical Report also points out to the further efforts required in financial control, financial services, environment and climate change. And also, the need to increase the administrative capacity to implement the EU acquis. 

But I insist that the focus of this analytical report is on their alignment with the European Union acquis. 

Last week, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “The West is looking at Moldova to play the role of the next Ukraine, and the country’s President, Maia Sandu, is itching to join NATO and ready to annex Moldova to Romania.” Are there fears in the EU? Is the EU fearing such a scenario and how will the EU act to prevent that?

Well, that is a pity that Mr. Lavrov, [who] was once a respected diplomat, is going on this path that discredits him intellectually. There is nothing serious in these considerations. 

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Peter Stano
Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
+32 (0)460 75 45 53
Paloma Hall Caballero
Press Officer for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
+32 (0)2 296 85 60
+32 (0)460 76 85 60