Two Senior European Figures Have Issued a Warning to Moldova That it Risks Damaging Its EU Accession Ambitions

May 08, 2013, 05:58 ET from EU- Ukraine Business Council

BRUSSELS, May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

By Martin Banks

The warning, from Štefan Füle and Catherine Ashton, comes after the Moldovan parliament last week voted to give itself new powers to sack constitutional court judges and change election rules.

The country's parliament adopted an amendment which allows the removal of judges if they do not have the "trust" of parliament.

The two EU officials also voiced concern at other newly-enacted measures on electoral law: the threshold required for parties to enter parliament, powers of the acting prime minister to dismiss ministers and heads of institutions, and a change in status of the national anti-corruption centre.

The new laws, approved on 3 May, come amid an ongoing political crisis in the former Soviet republic which has seen its prime minister Vlad Filat resign in March after losing a confidence vote amid feuding among leaders of a dominant pro-European coalition.

Füle and Ashton say that the new legislation could harm the country's bid for closer ties with the EU.

Ashton, the EU's high representative, and Füle, who is responsible for the enlargement and European neighbourhood policy, dossier, issued a statement on recent developments in Moldova.

He says, "We have learned with strong concern of the adoption of an amendment to the law on the constitutional court of the Republic of Moldova, allowing removal of judges from the constitutional court if they do not have the 'trust' of parliament.

"This law, as well as a number of other important laws, touching upon fundamental issues for the functioning of Moldova's democracy, have been adopted with extreme haste, and without proper consultation with Moldovan society, or appropriate regard to European standards on constitutional reform, in particular those of the Venice commission of the Council of Europe."

The statement goes on, "We fully share the concerns expressed by the president of the Venice commission."

"This follows a worrying new pattern of decision making in Moldova, reflected also in other recent legislative moves, where the institutions of the state have been used in the interest of a few.

"We reiterate our concern that these measures, carried out without proper preparation and consultation, could constitute a threat to the independence of key national institutions, and an obstacle to Moldova's further democratic development and stable rule of law.

"We urge Moldova's political leaders not to lose sight of the long-term impact of their decisions, including on the achievement of Moldova's aspirations."

Further came on Tuesday from parliament's president Martin Schulz, who said, "It is with great concern that I observe the deepening of the political crisis in Moldova. If continued, political wrangling may blow the country's European integration effort off its course.

"I am particularly worried by last week's votes in parliament to amend a number of important laws. Those changes have far-reaching, potentially negative consequences for the country's democratic development. Those amendments were passed too hastily and without proper consultations and preparation.

"Those legal changes should be reconsidered for the sake of the stable rule of law in Moldova."

The German deputy went on, "I urge all Moldovan politicians to bury their hatchet and push ahead with reforms aimed at ensuring prosperity for their citizens. Moldova has advanced substantially in recent years on its path towards the European integration, becoming one of the leaders in the eastern partnership programme. This effort could be wasted if the political crisis continues and private and partisan interests prevail.

"Constructive cooperation among all political forces is needed to preserve the pro-European orientation of the country. The cooperation is essential to achieve necessary progress towards the finalising of the association agreement and pushing forward with the visa liberalisation action plan in time for the eastern partnership summit in Vilnius in November.

"Parliament stands ready, if necessary, to facilitate the political dialogue in Moldova and help overcome the current stalemate."

SOURCE EU- Ukraine Business Council