Friday, 15 Nov

Joint Statements by Prime Minister Victor Ponta, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Iurie Leanca

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José Manuel Barroso:

Good morning ladies and gentleman,

It is a pleasure to welcome the two Prime Ministers of Romania and the Republic of Moldova, Victor Ponta and Iurie Leancă, to the European Commission today.

The reason for our meeting is to broaden our cooperation and interconnections, both political and in terms of infrastructure, between the European Union Member States and our close neighbours and partners in the East.

Let me say, as I said during our meeting, that I think today is a great première. It's the first time - since I can remember - that we have a meeting between the Commission, the government of one of our Member States and the government of such a close partner and friend that we are expecting to become politically associated and economically integrated with the European Union.

This is a première, and I'd like at this occasion to give a special word of thanks to Romania, and to you personally, Prime Minister Ponta. I think that your strong support, not only to the European path of Moldova but also to the Eastern Partnership is very much appreciated. It shows that Romania, not only is benefiting from the European integration but it's also giving a very important contribution to our common European projects and common European values. I thank you for that.

I also thank you, Prime Minister Leancă, for your strong European commitment. And I think the quality of our exchange today just confirms how much we see each other eye to eye in these matters about the values and about the European path of your country.

The objectives of our policies do not stop at our borders. This is the case of the strategic issue of energy interconnections, which was the main focus of our meeting. Commissioner Oettinger also participated in the meeting.

Energy security and diversity of energy supply is of the utmost importance, for our Union and our neighbours. Every European citizen should have access to safe and affordable energy. No European nation should be an energy island – isolated from European networks. And Moldova, as a member of the Energy Community, should be free to choose the same rights of access to the energy internal market if it wishes.

This is a general principle that is worth underlining ahead of the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit in two weeks. We support and engage deeply with our neighbours and friends, and their free and democratic choices must be respected.

Today, we have made significant progress on identifying a priority list of joint energy interconnection projects and how we can make these a reality on the ground.

We took in fact some concrete decisions as well. And we have identified two main priorities in the short-term:

Firstly, the gas projects which will enable gas deliveries from Romania all the way to Chisinau.

The Iaşi-Ungheni gas interconnector is already underway. This project represents the first direct interconnection of Moldova with the EU gas market and the first step into a wider project to eventually link Chisinau with the EU gas market. It will greatly enhance Moldova's ability to diversify the sources and routes of its energy. It will be good for businesses and citizens alike.

This infrastructure development should of course go hand in hand with the introduction of the necessary market reforms and regulatory measures in Moldova. It will enable undertakings to purchase gas from different sources and transport it via various routes. Its successful implementation will therefore be looked at as a reference for further infrastructure projects.

Secondly, we have identified the most important electricity project, the back-to-back station on the Vulcanesti-Isaccea grid, which will allow Moldova to increase electricity imports from Romania to up to half of Moldova's yearly power consumption.

Both projects can significantly increase the energy security of Moldova, by stabilizing its energy supply and by reducing the risk of increasing prices.

I have committed today that the Commission will continue to provide both political and financial support. The EU has already provided €7 million towards the Iaşi-Ungheni gas interconnector project, which is currently under construction, and we are also financing the feasibility study for Moldova and Ukraine's connection to the ENTSO-E electricity system.

We will continue to extend our support to all parties in moving these projects forward. We have also discussed the potential of the EU Neighbourhood Investment Facility to provide significant support by leveraging loans from International Financial Institutions, not only the European Investment Bank but also the EBRD and the World Bank.

From a wider perspective, I have also urged both Romania and Moldova to engage actively in the European Union's work for gas supply diversification in South East Europe, by developing a reverse gas flow corridor across South Eastern Europe from Greece to Ukraine.

All this shows the importance of our cooperation. And the Commission is strongly committed to ensuring that all neighbouring countries that wish to be connected to the European energy system, can be. The close cooperation that Romania and Moldova have demonstrated on these issues is a very positive step forward, and I would like to thank once again the two Prime Ministers for their vision and leadership. In the Commission, we continue to stand behind our friends.

On this note, I'm extremely pleased to announce today that after considerable efforts by the Moldovan authorities over the last three years, the Commission's report on Visa Liberalisation which we are publishing this morning concludes that Moldova meets all the benchmarks set. Following the Eastern Partnership Summit, the European Commission will present a legislative proposal to lift visa requirements for Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport. This is very good news for citizens and a very tangible element towards a closer political association and economic integration with the European Union, because we are also speaking here about people to people contact. We are making this European path a reality.

I thank you for your attention.

Victor Ponta: Mr. President , allow me to speak in Romanian. Good morning! I would like to thank President Barroso for this premiere indeed, the meeting with Prime Minister of Moldova and me, Prime Minister of a Member State of the European Union. It is a very strong message for the importance of the Eastern Partnership, and it is a sign of vision. Indeed, Moldova and other countries that are part of the Eastern Partnership can be supported by current EU member states to make their EU integration faster and more efficiently. I want to say I am honored today to attend this meeting with Prime Minister of Moldova , Mr Leancă, a pro-European political personality who has clearly and decisively committed his Cabinet to the path of European integration . For this reason, Romania considers  it is duty bound to be involved in the first line of support for better integration of Moldova in the European path, and we worked together with the European Commission , Commissioner Oettinger , the two Governments , with other representatives of the European Commission , to identify , and we have identified at this point , concrete projects both of energy infrastructure and transport infrastructure that are developed during this period and may be developed in the future. The financing, and implementation are currently being worked on and Romania, Moldova and the European Commission will identify and present all the resources and all the necessary procedures for these key projects for Moldova and the European Union to be achieved.

I want to reaffirm the Romanian Government’s determination to use all possible resources from the national budget , the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Funds, through other European programs as well,  to develop these energy and transport infrastructure projects; based on these meetings at the highest level , all government structures continue to work, and probably early next year, we will have another meeting to identify the stage of priority projects . I want to express once again the total, unconditional and special support that Romania extends in Vilnius and in all proceedings subsequent to Moldova's pro European journey , to say that I very much enjoy the announcement by President Barroso regarding the procedure of lifting visa requirements for citizens of Moldova. I know how important was for Romanian citizens when they received this news and I am very glad that this important information is announced. And I would also like to thank President Barroso, for the extremely trenchant , very European and fair way in which a few days ago , he presented the European situation , regarding the Schengen Area , the labor migration , the way in which Europe has a common vision and is sometimes under the threat of extremism and nationalism . I want to reaffirm the Government of Romania’s full support for Moldova and the European projects concerning Moldova and this meeting will help us a lot to unlock and identify new resources for the implementation of concrete projects.

Iurie leanca: “Mr, President, and I will also speak in Romanian, as this too is an official language of the European Union.

Dear  Mr. President, dear Mr. Prime minister, I also want to thank for this extraordinary possibility to see each other here, in Brussels, and discuss, two weeks before the Vilnius summit, more subjects on the European agenda of the Republic of Moldova, and particularly, to debate the mechanisms, instruments to help us continue this process of European integration, which means nothing but a natural process of Moldova’s modernisation, creation of these functional institutions which serve, first of all, the interests of the citizens.

Today, we have really had useful discussions, very important and very pragmatic, debating how we will continue this European integration, how we will accomplish the economic integration, political association, and certainly, we are interested in how we are to take into account also a process of switch from the political association to the political integration. And this, surely, after we fulfill certain conditions. I will begin with the interconnection projects.

First of all, I want to thank the European Commission, Mr President Barroso, Commissioner Oettinger for the fact that, together with the Bucharest colleagues, under the guidance of prime minister Ponta, we have already established a very good trilateral. Following this trilateral discussion, we managed, just as the colleagues said, to identify the projects, that is a very and very important thing, as we had had too many discussions and not always very well structured, on how should achieve this extremely important objective for Moldova. The moment we set the priorities and the today’s discussions showed quite clearly that we are on the correct path, it will be much easier to attain this goal of accomplishing an energy system of Moldova that is much safer, much less vulnerable to all kinds of oscillations in the region.

The fact that we managed to launch the construction of the Iasi-Ungheni gas pipeline along with Prime minister Ponta and Commissioner Oettinger on 27 August 2013, when we mark Moldova’s independence, speaks about the fact that we are on the right path. I am happy to ascertain that the works on this pipeline are carried out just as we planned, and I am sure that, in the first quarter of 2014, we will manage to complete the Iasi-Ungheni pipeline. I am sure once again that, along with other elements of this project, we will manage to diversify the routes of Moldova’s supply with energy resources, we refer especially to gas. Certainly, we discussed the interconnection in the electric energy sector, and we found out the next steps, so that I am sure that, in the weeks and months to come, we could switch from discussions to feasibility studies, and afterwards, to implement these equally important projects for Moldova.

We also reviewed the interconnection projects in the transport area. You know that there are also, wounds, so to say, that were not healed, I refer to the bridges that were destroyed during the World War II. And so we want, along with the colleagues, friends from Bucharest, to revive the process of reconstruction of these bridges, the ones that will be natural binders for economic, commercial, as well as cultural and people-to-people relations. I said that we are on the eve of the Vilnius summit, an extremely important stage for the Republic of Moldova, for its European integration.

I believe that we will succeed, as we have planned to initial the two agreements in Vilnius and then, via the accelerated reforms in Moldova and by demonstrating that we are very serious in the justice and prosecutors’ office reforms, as well as in the fight against corruption, we should prepare for signing the two very important agreements. I would like to thank Barroso and the colleagues who knew how to mobilize and found the necessary resources, and to allow us to initial in Vilnius each page of the free trade agreement that is a very voluminous document.

Surely, Mr.Barroso’s statement will make happy each Moldovan citizen. The statement you have made, Mr.President, as regards Moldova's meeting the conditions on the visa free regime represents great news Moldovan society expects to. I want to thank you not only for this statement, but especially, you personally and the DG Home colleagues for the extremely beneficial work we had in going through the very important stage, which meant, firstly, the institutional reforms in Moldova. I thank you very much and I can go home with a great feeling of joy. Thank you once again!”.

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