European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in Chisinau for the European Political Community (EPC) summit, has announced enhanced support for Moldova’s integration.
On June 1, 35km from Chisinau and just 20km from the border with Ukraine, Castle Mimi — home to one of Moldova’s finest wineries — is hosting the second summit of the European Political Community.
The support announced by von der Leyen comprises financial packages for thermal insulation of buildings (€160mn), for modernisation of the railways (€50) and for strengthening the military (€40mn), which on top of previous financing since 2021 would add up to €1.6bn.
As well as announcing the financial support, von der Leyen also stressed that the decision to hold the second EPC summit in Moldova sends out a strong message about the European future of the country, calling it the "political heart of Europe".
"I think it is natural and self-explaining that the second summit of the European Political Community takes place in Moldova. Because your country embodies Europe's core values. That is solidarity, which you showed towards the Ukrainian refugees; resilience, which you showed to Russia's blackmail; and unity which you showed to link your destiny to the European Union," von der Leyen said, according to a statement from the European Commission.
Moldova was given the status of EU membership candidate only last year after the pro-EU forces won the presidential and then the general elections. Chisinau has set the year 2030 as the target for EU membership.
Moldova is striving to make the most out of the opportunity of hosting Europe’s leaders at a time when its pro-EU authorities are seeking to move towards opening the accession negotiations by the end of the year.
"It is proof of support because all these countries come here, knowing that at our border there is an ongoing war, it is also a symbol of support for Ukraine … For us it is important that those who come can get to know us better,” Moldovan President Maia Sandu said on the day before the summit.
The focus of discussions for the summit is expected to include securing key infrastructure such as pipelines, cables and satellites; stepping up the fight against cyberattacks; creating a support fund for Ukraine; working out a common, pan-European energy policy; and, looking into the possibility of having more university and student exchanges.
Sandu commented on Moldova’s accession process in an interview given to Bloomberg, saying that EU accession is possible with Transnistria — the part of the country controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
She expressed confidence that bolstering the region’s economy would serve as the best negotiation tool for the reintegration of Transnistria. Half of the mission is already accomplished since Transnistria’s economy is much better integrated with that of Europe than with the Russia-controlled Community of Independent States (CIS). Over 70% of Transnistria’s exports are sent to Moldova proper (20%) or European Union (50%), according to estimates by economist and politician Veaceslav Ionita.