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Policy Dialogues on European Reform Priorities
02/02/2024

Moldova continues to work on implementing the nine European reform priorities. Their implementation at the local level was the subject of our NEXT4EU Policy Dialogues.

In its report on the EU’s enlargement policy published in November 2023, the European Commission confirmed that Moldova had made sufficient progress in implementing the nine reform steps and recommended the opening of accession negotiations. The European Council endorsed this recommendation in December 2023 and officially decided to open EU accession negotiations. The fulfilment of nine reform steps was a prerequisite for the decision. Six of the new steps were fulfilled in 2023 and three remaining steps will most likely be completed by March 2024.

The implementation of the reform steps also requires the cooperation of stakeholders at local level. The NEXT4EU Policy Dialogues therefore aimed to resolve open questions and concerns in the dialogue between civil society and politics.

Strengthening public administration (reform priority 6) includes modernising the division of responsibilities between the central and local levels; there is a need to clarify which tasks need to be performed at district level. One controversial issue is the financial resources required, which range from tax autonomy rules, the tax base for local authorities to the handling of public property. As part of the policy dialogue in Cahul, the implementation of the administrative reform strategy (2016-2020) and the newly adopted strategy (2023-2030) were discussed. It was agreed that more extensive decentralisation is needed, which should further promote the merger of municipalities.

The Republic of Moldova has committed to strengthening the protection of human rights, especially for vulnerable groups, as well as gender equality and combating violence against women. The implementation of this reform priority (9) must be carried out in the regions. The NEXT4EU Policy Dialogue in Ungheni, organised in partnership with UN Women, helped to promote cooperation with civil society and implementation at local level. Religious actors, especially representatives of the Orthodox Church, who were successfully integrated into the dialogue, also have a special role to play.

Three outstanding reform commitments still need to be fulfilled by the Republic of Moldova; the European Council in March 2024 represents an informal deadline for this. The focus is on judicial reform, anti-corruption and de-oligarchisation of the country.

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About the NEXT4EU: Young generation for EU integration project: The Republic of Moldova was officially designated as a candidate country for the European Union in June 2022.. The NEXT4EU project supports civil society in accompanying European reforms and especially the young generation in engaging in the integration process.

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