The EU-Republic of Moldova Visa Liberalisation Dialogue prepared an Action Plan, defining the conditions to be met by the Republic of Moldova as the basis for visa-free travel, so-called “Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP). It contained preliminary benchmarks related to the legislative and regulatory framework and specific benchmarks for effective implementation across four blocks: Document security, including bIOMetrics; Irregular immigration, including readmission; Public order and security; External Relations and fundamental rights.
Following the fulfilment of the VLAP, in April 2014, the European Union granted visa-free travel to Moldovan citizens in possession of a bIOMetric passport. Since then, Moldovan citizens enter and travel throughout the Schengen area without visas.
At the same time, the Commission Services and the Government of the Republic of Moldova agreed to accompany this important change in their relation with a 20 M€ support entitled the Implementation of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan covering the financial years 2014-2016. The aim was to assist the authorities to strengthen the systems and processes for the further strengthening and monitoring of the benchmarks in the VLAP. The overall objective was to contribute to the improvement of the mobility of Moldovan nationals, while ensuring public order and security, consolidating the rule of law and strengthening human rights protections in line with European standards and best comparative practices. The specific objectives were linked to enhanced border management and migration management (Block 2) and enhanced public order and security (Block 3).
The visa liberalisation regime is being largely observed and this has led to a significant reduction in irregular migration. The numbers of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers remains small and well within the current capacities of the Moldovan authorities to manage. Similarly, the Moldovan authorities are making good progress in tackling cross-border crime, notably trafficking in women, drugs and weapons.
There have been also one unexpected consequences of the introduction of the visa liberalisation regime: the positive effect is that approximately 327,000 inhabitants from the Transnistrian region were included in State Register of the Population and about 265,000 possess Moldovan bIOMetrical passports and IDs as citizens of the Republic of Moldova. The principal added value of EU support has been that it has played the leading role in the policy dialogue on border management, migration management and cross-border crime.