European Integration Index: Moldova leading reformer among EaP countries
Moldova leads the countries of the Eastern Partnership in implementing reforms required to join the European Union, according to an annual index of European integration co-produced by PASOS.
The European Integration Index 2014 was released at public events held in Brussels and Chishinau in March that featured presentations by experts from members of the PASOS network. PASOS Executive Director Jeff Lovitt, who edited the publication, also participated in the release events.
Leonid Litra of the Institute of World Policy presented the findings on Moldova at both events. He made a strong call for the EU not to be indulgent regarding Moldova and other EaP countries’ progress towards European integration.
“Reforms should be undertaken and well-implemented and the EU should be very critical in its assessments,” Litra said. Even though Moldova is a leader in reform, he sees less progress in EU and Moldova relations lately as the country’s new government is less devoted to the European integration, he added.
The Index was developed by a group of more than 50 civil society experts from EaP and EU countries. Many more contributed comments at various stages. The 2014 Index is produced by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (CSF), Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI), the International Renaissance Foundation (IRF), and PASOS. The project is funded by the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA) and IRF.
Other key findings of this year’s Index found that:
- Georgia was the second best performer overall, and the country that showed the biggest advances in the 2014 Index.
- Ukraine caught up with Armenia to share third place.
- Belarus remained the poorest performer when it comes to European integration.
The report also makes a number of recommendations, including a call for the EU to differentiate between the six Eastern partner countries, and to provide intense support to Ukraine to help it overhaul its system of governance against the backdrop of the war in Eastern Ukraine.
Other recommendations include:
- The EU Council should approve visa-free travel for Georgia and Ukraine (granted to Moldova in 2014) upon completion of the second phase of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan.
- The Comprehensive Institution Building programme should be strengthened, building on the “more for more” approach of enhanced support, including political support, for those countries that achieve demonstrable reforms. The EU should support civil society and expert monitoring of implementation of EU support.
- In Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus, the EU should consistently offer dialogue and support to civil society and reform-minded actors, and put in place a communications campaign to demonstrate the benefits of integration with the EU. The EU should balance offers of co-operation on “modernisation” with the governments with a robust programme providing stronger support to non-governmental actors working to promote freedom of expression, independent media, and human rights.
A video of the Moldova event can be viewed here.