Explaining Moldova’s candidate status: providing a monitoring and public debate platform for the pre-accession assistance

Timeline: January  – November 2023 

In Moldova we trust! We are proposing a collaborative partnership monitoring the key pre-accession assistance that will support the European path of the Republic of the Moldova and will the guide the reforms at the national level. We will explain key priorities for Chisinau, needed reforms and stakes in the negotiations with Brussels, the progress on delivering and achieving the goals following the legislative changes and the foreseen deadlines.

Our project is designed to improve the engagement between citizens, journalists, and decision makers involved in the management of pre-accession assistance and “translate” key reforms in an easy-to-read and accessible language in order to improve the awareness and knowledge of the general public.

Republic of Moldova and the EU

The Republic of Moldova was granted candidate status after a decision of the European Council in June 2022. The new status is a major milestone for Chisinau, but it comes with numerous challenges and bottlenecks that the fragile pro-European government must face. Moldova is ill prepared to face the requirements of the accession path, mainly due to internal vulnerabilities (underperforming public administration, corruption, security risks, impact of the energy crisis) and external (esp. the war waged by the Russian Federation in Ukraine and the impact on Moldova and its breakaway region Transnistria).

In June 2022, the European Commission issued an opinion on Moldova’s application for membership of the European Union, recommending the candidate status, on the understanding that nine specific steps are taken, in the areas of justice reform, shortcomings identified by OSCE/ODIHR, corruption fight and public administration reform, protection of human rights, etc.

These nine specific steps, coupled with the 35 chapters of negotiations, represent the milestones of Moldova’s EU accession and need to be understood, debated and addressed in the years to follow by all the relevant actors in the country, including CSOs, media or civic groups.

Why is it important to support the European path of the Republic of Moldova

The pre-accession assistance that will be received by the Republic of Moldova is highly complex and more difficult to explain to the general public, but is the key instrument for the successful implementation of reforms. This process will be targeted by false news and disinformation campaign for external and internal actors that wish to derail Moldova’s commitments to the EU. Using false narratives, these actors will aim to limit the trust of the citizens in the accession process and, taking into consideration the lengthy procedure and Moldova’s vulnerabilities, this poses a high risk for Chisinau. Citizens’ buy-in must be kept at all time and there is a need to better understand each step of the EU accession process in order to match expectations with reality.

What we aim to do. Moldova in the EU in 2030

Explaining the EU accession process and especially the pre-accession assistance to the general public require significant resources for any country and will pose numerous challenges. Chisinau needs not only to deliver a proper communication strategy targeting all the citizens, but will need to enhance in a very short time the overall level of understanding and knowledge on the impact of the candidate status and what follows next. This is not an easy task and each step will be countered by a large disinformation and false news campaign by internal and external actors that wish to derail the EU course of Moldova.

This lengthy process is far from being an easy one or straightforward. Will face numerous bottlenecks (both internal and external) and there are numerous actors that wish to derail Moldova’s EU course. With the support of media and CSOs, we aim to “do our part” and explain to the citizens each step of the process, matching expectations with reality and enhance their awareness and knowledge. This is crucial for maintaining a very high level of trust and support in the process.

By empowering media and CSOs in better understanding and explaining to the general public the EU accession and pre-accession process and assistance and organizing a monitor and watchdog campaign, Q&A sessions for citizens and publishing policy briefs, we aim  to diminish the capacity of ill-intended actors to promote false news and disinformation campaigns about the EU.

This project has the support of the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, a project of the German Marshall Fund. Views and opinions expressed are, however, those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the donors.

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