Input Paper “Overview of the current situation and chal­lenges of the European Green Deal in the Republic of Moldova”

Foto: Shut­ter­stock, Alexey Struyskiy

As part of our project “Eastern Part­ner­ship Plus”, we are pub­lish­ing a second series of input papers on the topic of Perspec­tives and Prior­i­ties European Green Deal (EGD) in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. The authors from the region (Nataliya Andru­sevych, Manana Kochladze, Iuliana Cantaragiu) analyse the role of the Euro­pean Union in sup­port­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of the EGD and for­mu­late their polit­i­cal rec­om­men­da­tions for deci­sion-makers in Berlin and Brussels.


By Iuliana Cantaragiu, circular economy expert

Overview of the current situation and chal­lenges in envi­ron­mental protec­tion and climate sectors

Envi­ron­mental quality in the Republic of Moldova falls below expec­ta­tions, and the country will have to overcome great chal­lenges in order to improve it. Air, water, soil quality and biodi­ver­sity indi­ca­tors have shown negative trends for the past 10 years. The main sources of water and soil pollution are waste­water, solid waste and fertil­izers used in agri­cul­ture. Transport is the principal source of air pollution. Given the envi­ron­mental and climate pressure, forest coverage in the country, at 11.4%, is too low. Agri­cul­tural land accounts for 72% of Moldovan territory; most of it used for intensive agri­cul­ture, which has a signif­i­cant impact on soil and surface water quality.

The poor quality of the envi­ron­ment and frequent and intensive climate events affect the country’s economy and the health and quality of life of its population.

One reason for this unhappy state of affairs is that no govern­ment of the Republic of Moldova has ever attached priority to envi­ron­mental or climate protec­tion. That these issues have figured at all on the agendas of Moldovan govern­ments has largely been due to pressure from devel­op­ment partners rather than to a recog­ni­tion on the part of the Moldovan govern­ment that envi­ron­mental quality and quality of life are related or an awareness of the urgent need to change its approach to improve the situation.

Under the govern­ment led by Maia Sandu (June–November 2019), there were indi­ca­tions of an intent to place envi­ron­mental protec­tion and climate higher on the agenda, but such good inten­tions became irrel­e­vant upon the dismissal of that government.

The situation in the field dete­ri­o­rated after the reform of the public central author­i­ties, which began in 2017, when the envi­ron­mental, agri­cul­tural and regional devel­op­ment ministries were combined into one ministry. In a country in which little impor­tance is attached to envi­ron­mental issues, placing the protec­tion of the envi­ron­ment in the hands of a major polluter means that any effort to protect the envi­ron­ment will be blocked or at least weakened. The merging of the ministries took place despite consid­er­able efforts to prevent it on the part of civil society.

The govern­mental restruc­turing and reform that begun in 2017 was supposed to continue with reforms in sub-minis­te­rial agencies. Unfor­tu­nately, the reforms of several such agencies, such as the forest agency, “Moldsilva”, and the agency “Apele Moldovei” (Moldovan Waters), still have not been fully imple­mented and several are faced with discrep­an­cies in activity and/​or accu­sa­tions of corrup­tion. As part of the same reform programme, an envi­ron­mental agency was created to implement envi­ron­mental policy, but it has not been equipped with suffi­cient staff or funding to enable it to fulfil its obligations.

Envi­ron­mental protec­tion efforts in the Republic of Moldova are hindered by a shortage in funding in addition to the chal­lenges in insti­tu­tional manage­ment and capac­i­ties. Annual national budgets have not allocated suffi­cient resources to envi­ron­mental protec­tion to enable the existing chal­lenges to be addressed; sectoral strate­gies and programmes estimate that hundreds of millions of euros would be necessary. It is therefore quite important to re-evaluate funding in this area and stream­line budgetary allo­ca­tions in such a way as to ensure that financial resources are used trans­par­ently and in accor­dance with the prior­i­ties set out in policy documents for envi­ron­mental protec­tion and promotion of the green economy.

The focus of efforts to improve the current state of the envi­ron­ment should be on pollution reduction measures, a refor­esta­tion program and the conser­va­tion of biodi­ver­sity. This will require a complex approach involving reform in several areas: legisla­tive reforms, improve­ment of the control and enforce­ment of legis­la­tion, the devel­op­ment and improve­ment of a variety of financial mech­a­nisms and incen­tives for envi­ron­mental projects, the improve­ment of the network moni­toring envi­ron­mental indi­ca­tors, increased invest­ment in envi­ron­mental and climate projects and infra­struc­ture, and last but not least, strength­ening the envi­ron­mental agencies to enable them to implement the reforms. The first step should be to re-establish the Ministry of the Envi­ron­ment, complete the reforms of the sub-minis­te­rial agencies and strengthen the capac­i­ties of the envi­ron­mental insti­tu­tions to enable them to advocate for better climate and envi­ron­ment policies and enforce such policies without political inter­fer­ence or corruption.


The EU’s role in supporting the envi­ron­mental protec­tion and climate programs 

The Republic of Moldova does not have an umbrella strategy covering sustain­able devel­op­ment in place. The signif­i­cant political insta­bility in the country for the past few years has hindered the devel­op­ment of a national strategy for sustain­able devel­op­ment by the relevant agencies. There was a national devel­op­ment strategy entitled “Moldova 2030” was developed 2017–2018. This strategy built around ten pillars, that took into consid­er­a­tion the SDGs and targets set in Agenda 2030. However, the frequent changes of govern­ment in the past years and snap parlia­men­tarian elections prevented its formal adoption, thus the strategy never entered into force.

Nonethe­less, the provi­sions of “Moldova 2030” have served as the basis for the strate­gies pursued by the member states of the European Union in their coop­er­a­tion with the Republic of Moldova.

The EU’s coop­er­a­tion with the Republic of Moldova takes place within the framework of the Eastern Part­ner­ship policy initia­tive. The legal instru­ment under­pin­ning this coop­er­a­tion is the Asso­ci­a­tion Agreement (AA) between the European Union and the Republic of Moldova, which was signed in 2014. The AA’s purpose is to increase the stabil­i­sa­tion and resilience of the Republic of Moldova as a neigh­bouring country of the European Union and to deepen coop­er­a­tion in various areas. Its provi­sions focus on harmon­ising the national legis­la­tion of the Republic of Moldova with the European Union acquis. The Asso­ci­a­tion Agenda, developed on the basis of these provi­sions and the situation in the country, sets out short and long-term prior­i­ties and a roadmap for imple­men­ta­tion of selected prior­i­ties. Chapters 16 and 17 of the AA are devoted to envi­ron­mental protec­tion and climate change miti­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion measures, respectively.

Moni­toring of AA imple­men­ta­tion is performed annually on the Parlia­men­tary, Govern­ment and civil society platforms. Condi­tion­al­i­ties built into agree­ments for financial support are based on the results of the moni­toring of the Asso­ci­a­tion Agenda and on the political situation in the country.

It should be mentioned that there is no strategic document focusing on coop­er­a­tion regarding the European Green Deal in place between European Union and the Republic of Moldova.

However, the Republic of Moldova does have in place several topic-specific strate­gies that include provi­sions on emissions reduc­tions, envi­ron­mental protec­tion, waste manage­ment and/​or renewable energy. There is also an Inter-minis­te­rial Working Group on Sustain­able Devel­op­ment and Green Economy that was estab­lished in 2015 within the framework of the EU4Environment program for EaP countries. This working group developed the Road Map on Green Economy, which outlined short- and medium-term actions for 2018–2020 and for the imple­men­ta­tion of the 2014–2023 envi­ron­mental strategy.

There is no specific roadmap detailing how the Republic of Moldova should engage in the European Green Deal, but there is an action plan/​roadmap for greening the economy, which was developed under EU4Environment program. The action plan mainly includes soft measures, such as the support of research, training programs, support in legis­la­tion development.

Whether there is suffi­cient political will for reform and to initiate the ecolog­ical moderni­sa­tion of the country will depend on the results of the upcoming elections (11 July 2021). If pro-European parties gain a majority in the newly formed Parlia­ment and form the new govern­ment, the chances that the reforms needed will be developed and imple­mented are higher. Otherwise, there is no reason to expect any major change in the status quo.

The condi­tion­ality mechanism incor­po­rated into the micro­fi­nancing agree­ments between European Union and the Republic of Moldova has succeeded, to some extent, in pushing anti­cor­rup­tion forward in the Govern­ment agenda. It seems likely that the use of the same mechanism of condi­tion­ality within the framework of financial agree­ments and the openness of the European market for Moldovan products that comply with EU envi­ron­mental standards will increase the Moldovan Government’s interest in incor­po­rating the green agenda into its priority areas.

In view of the current state of the envi­ron­ment in the Republic of Moldova, the first reforms should focus on the reduction and preven­tion of pollution and on the conser­va­tion of biodi­ver­sity, including the refor­esta­tion program. Thus, waste­water manage­ment, waste manage­ment and forest manage­ment should be priority areas.


Concrete recom­men­da­tions:

Short and medium term prior­i­ties in the Republic of Moldova should be on improving and enforcing legis­la­tion, invest­ments in infra­struc­ture, the devel­op­ment of financial mech­a­nisms and incen­tives, capacity building in the relevant insti­tu­tions and improve­ment and extension of the network moni­toring envi­ron­mental indicators.


  • With respect to the Eastern Part­ner­ship framework (Asso­ci­a­tion countries):
  • Introduce the fulfil­ment of good envi­ron­mental gover­nance require­ments as a condition for the provision of financial, economic and sectoral support to the EaP countries and promote good envi­ron­mental gover­nance, based on a trans­parent and inclusive decision-making process and involving different stakeholders;
  • Insist that EaP govern­ments work towards estab­lishing strong envi­ron­mental insti­tu­tions that are able to adopt and implement new policies and regu­la­tions in line with the envi­ron­mental acquis of the EU;
  • Establish a mechanism for moni­toring the imple­men­ta­tion – not only the adoption – of envi­ron­mental laws adopted pursuant to AAs in EaP countries within the EaP Envi­ron­ment and Climate Change Panel, including regular reporting;
  • Increase support for measures aimed at increasing envi­ron­mental awareness and knowledge about envi­ron­mental reforms within EaP countries govern­ments and societies;
  • Allocate a portion of the funding for the 2021–2027 period to support projects aimed at promoting the imple­men­ta­tion of the relevant envi­ron­mental legis­la­tion, as this helps to strengthen the insti­tu­tional framework.
  • With respect to EU Green Deal within the framework of the Eastern Partnership:
  • Pay greater attention to promoting the EU Green Deal in the entire Eastern Part­ner­ship region, stressing that it entails a change in the economic course of the bloc and will directly affect the economies of the EaP countries. It is highly important to change the percep­tion of the climate crisis as an “envi­ron­mental problem” and create a greater under­standing of the scale of the risks that climate change poses for the economies and financial stability of EaP countries. It is also important to create condi­tions conducive to learning about the potential for the devel­op­ment of a green, climate-neutral economy in the EaP region



  1. The envi­ron­mental state of the Republic of Moldova. National report based on envi­ron­mental indi­ca­tors for 2015–2018, Envi­ron­mental Agency, 2020,
  2. Republic of Moldova. Voluntary national review. Progress report 2020, Govern­ment of the Republic of Moldova, 2020,
  3. Applying Fiscal-budgetary instru­ments to solve envi­ron­mental issues, Inde­pen­dent Think-Tank Expert Group, National Envi­ron­mental Center, Alexandru Fala, Dumitru Pintea, Iuliana Cantaragiu, Ina Coseru, 2020,
  4. Statement of the envi­ron­mental civil society orga­ni­za­tions on including the envi­ron­mental protec­tion and adap­ta­tion to climate change as a priority area in govern­ment activity program, 21.11.2019,



Iuliana Cantaragiu, circular economy expert

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