The Council of the EU.
Foreign ministers had an exchange of views on the Republic of Moldova (thereafter Moldova), including the implementation of the Association Agreement, EU engagement with Moldova and future perspectives ahead of the next parliamentary elections. They also discussed the role of Moldova within the Eastern Partnership and engagement in the field of security. The Council adopted conclusions at the end of the debate.
In its conclusions, the Council reaffirms its commitment to strengthening political association and economic integration between the EU and Moldova by working in close partnership, on the basis of the Association Agreement that entered into force in July 2016. The Council recalls that the EU remains committed to supporting progress in reforms which are needed to ensure that the citizens of Moldova reap the benefits of the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
The Council last discussed and adopted conclusions on the Republic of Moldova on 15 February 2016. Those conclusions focused on the reforms Moldova needed to carry out in line with its association agreement in order to fulfil citizens' expectations. Since then, the authorities of Moldova have adopted several legislative initiatives related to those reforms identified as priorities in the Council conclusions. While acknowledging the steps already taken by Moldova, the Council highlights that it is crucial that the reforms started in 2016 continue and are implemented.
Ahead of the upcoming elections, the Council expresses its regret that the new electoral law does not address some of the key recommendations of the joint opinion of the Council of Europe Venice Commission and the OSCE / Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, recalling that transparent, inclusive and credible elections at central and local level are of key importance.
The Council also recalls that media freedom and pluralism are prerequisites for a democratic society and urges Moldova to pursue reforms which address the concentration of media ownership and guarantee media freedom and pluralism.
The Council underlines that renewed efforts should be urgently dedicated to a more decisive fight against corruptionwith tangible results, and that this should be accompanied by a thorough reform of the judiciary, including the prosecution service. It also underlines that this reform process should include thorough, impartial and comprehensive investigations and prosecutions of all those involved in the massive banking fraud that was exposed in 2014.