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Moldova needs further progress in reform implementation - EC

Moldova needs further progress in reform implementation - EC Deputy Prime Minister of Moldova Octavian Calmic with EBRD Director for Power and Energy Harry Boyd-Carpenter

CHISINAU (Moldova), April 5 (SeeNews) - Moldova has advanced with the implementation of some reforms but further action is still required for its citizens to reap the full benefits of the Association Agreement, the European Commission said on Thursday.

"Moldova has managed to stabilise its economic situation and, with constant but conditional support from the European Union and other international partners, has progressed with the implementation of some reforms, including strengthening the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA)," the Commission said in a statement highlighting conclusions of a staff working report drafted jointly with the European External Action Service ahead of the EU-Moldova Association Council on May 3.

Moldova signed an association agreement with the European Union in 2014, which took effect fully last July.

The Commission noted that further efforts are still needed in particular in order to address high-level corruption, recover the misappropriated funds from the one billion dollar banking fraud and bring to justice those responsible for the fraud. A thorough reform of the judicial system is also to be addressed, the EU excutive body added.

"Some reforms have recently advanced, in business and financial areas, for example, and further progress is needed in other areas, notably the fight against corruption and reforming the judiciary," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.

The economic growth registered in 2016-2017 had a positive impact on trade, the report noted. Even though Moldova has made progress in aligning its legislation on trade matters to EU regulation and standards, significant further efforts are required, the Commission added.

"The European Union is Moldova's main trading partner and over the past year trade between us has further increased," enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said.

On democracy, human rights and good governance, the report recalls that the change of the electoral system in July 2017 went against the recommendation of the Council of Europe's Venice Commission and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE. The necessity to ensure inclusiveness in the electoral process ahead of the parliamentary elections in autumn is underlined. The report also stresses that corruption, including high-level corruption, still remains widespread and the independence of justice, law enforcement as well as national anti-corruption authorities need substantial improvement.

A number of achievements, including examples of several projects that were completed in 2016-2017 with EU assistance and which directly improved citizens' daily lives, are highlighted in the report. New business incubators have been established, for example in Calarasi, to boost economic development and create jobs, and the EU has provided grants to migrants returning to Moldova for business purposes. The importance of confidence-building measures and the concrete benefits they bring to Moldova's regions of Transnistria and Gagauzia, such as support for setting up businesses and creating jobs, are also underlined in the report.