Graham Watson MEP
Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for South West England and Gibraltar
A local champion with an international reputation
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Published on Monday 6th August 2012
As one of the poorest countries in Europe, Moldova has a long way to go on its journey to having the high standard of living enjoyed by many other countries in the continent. Furthermore, Moldova is fraught by political struggles; most notably the unresolved issue of Transnistria – a breakaway de facto state. If Moldova was to join the EU, the benefits would be clear: not only would it benefit from the economic advantages that belonging to the trading bloc would bring, it would also receive central funding from the EU budget. As for what the country could offer us, Moldova would be able to join the rest of Europe in facing the big challenges all free societies face which are best dealt with by supranational co-operation.
As the European Parliament's rapporteur for the EU-Moldova Association agreement, Graham is a key figure in helping the Moldovan people realise this goal of EU membership, as it still has a long way to go before it meets the criteria for EU membership.
Initial co-operation between the EU and Moldova dates back to 28th November 1994 when the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), the first step towards becoming a full member of the EU was signed and brought into force four years later. The PCA agreement legally obliges the EU and Moldova to open further cooperation in the areas of trade, economics, science, diplomacy and culture. In order to fulfil these obligations, a political action plan was drawn up, outlining policies and areas in which Moldova could open up to in order to make progress.
Although progress towards full ascension has been slow and Moldova has yet to formally apply for membership, a progressive alliance was formed in 2009, creating a governing coalition of mainstream parties dedicated to actively seeking further European integration.
On a recent trip to an international young liberal summer school in Chisinau, Moldova, sponsored by the European Liberal Forum, Graham stressed the need for further Moldovan democratic reforms, whilst looking ahead to the future 'Moldova is already quite advanced in its participation in EU educational programmes. 182 scholarships have been awarded under the Erasmus Mundus programme. Over 300 young Moldovans now participate in the Youth in Action programme. Preparations are being made to join projects under the EU's Research framework programme and we hope soon to see schools from Moldova taking part in the Comenius exchange programme. On the broader political front, Moldova must continue on its path of reform, even if some challenges remain unresolved. In five or ten years' time things may look very different.'
Graham will continue to visit Moldova on occasion as part of an official European Parliament delegation and meet with high level government leaders in Brussels to assist in the advancement of EU-Moldovan integration.