Following the impact of Brexit on the EU and its internal market, the EU now has an opportunity to enhance its strength and standing on the global market through strategic enlargement towards the Western Balkans, thereby taking the Eastern Partnership to the next level.
On 07 October 2020, Romanian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Maria Grapini of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission.
MEP Grapini asked the Commission “does it have firm plans to move forward in this direction with the Republic of Moldova, which is already gravitating towards the EU but needs assistance with administrative capacity building, as well as funding for SME development and the harnessing of its agricultural potential?”
The Romanian Parliamentarian further asked two more pointed questions. She enquired “does the Commission believe that it could achieve fresh know-how transfers and SME internationalisation under the existing agreement with the Republic of Moldova?” and “can the Commission help the Republic of Moldova to improve its educational standards?”
MEP Grapini’s question was responded to by Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi on 23 November. Varhelyi’s response highlighted that “the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), provides for stronger political association and economic integration between the EU and the Republic of Moldova, and has steadily increased trade between the partners since 2014”.
Commissioner Varhelyi stated that “the Commission has provided extensive assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), for example through the EU4Business initiative”. He reported that “the EU has put in place the DCFTA Facility to support the internationalisation of SMEs, and help them take full advantage of the DCFTA through access to finance, business advice and training” and that “the support provided has benefitted more 4 600 enterprises from the Republic of Moldova since 2009”.
Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner underlined that “the Commission is working closely with International Financial Institutions and the EU Member States as part of Team Europe to provide a coordinated European response to the COVID-19 pandemic that benefits the real economy, including SMEs”.
Commissioner Varhelyi further commented that “the Commission is committed to investing in people across the Eastern Neighbourhood, including in education” and he added that “the EU-funded Twinning project (2019-2021) is supporting the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research of Moldova with a view to enhancing the quality and effectiveness of the country’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) system”.
Finally, Commissioner Varhelyi explained that “the Twinning follows an earlier EUR 25 million budget support programme supporting VET reforms in the Republic of Moldova, which ended in 2019” and “this programme supported building the foundations of a modern and effective VET system (mainly based on the dual education system), aiming to empower the young generation, help develop their skills and foster their employability”.
Photo Credit : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moldova