The Republic of Moldova is a landlocked country bordering Romania and Ukraine, with a resident population of 3.5 million. It is a lower-middle-income country which is facing a number of pressing issues that require intervention in order to restore and maintain economic, social and political stability.
To support the country’s needs, cooperation between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union is guided by the EU-Moldova Association Agreement which was signed on 27 June 2014. The Association Agreement highlights the need for key priority reforms including a functioning market economy and sustainable development.
The EU-Moldova Association Agreement is comprised of seven Titles which concern General Principles; Political Dialogue and Reform, Cooperation in the Field of Foreign and Security Policy; Justice, Freedom and Security; Economic and other Sector Cooperation; Trade and Trade-related Matters (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, DCFTA); Financial Assistance and Anti-Fraud and Control Provision as well as Institutional, General and Final Provisions.
The Project “Support to the Quality Infrastructure Framework within a DCFTA Context in the Republic Of Moldova” which was financed by the European Union was implemented to support Moldova in strengthening the country’s Quality Infrastructure framework within a DCFTA context. This project was implemented by a consortium led by WEglobal Italy between September, 1st 2017 and October, 31st 2020.
The primary beneficiary for this project was the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure. Secondary target groups were different Moldovan agencies and state bodies like the National Institute for Standardisation, the National Institute of Metrology, the National Accreditation Body, the Consumer Protection Agency, the Moldovan Investment and Export Promotion Organisation (MIEPO) and the Moldovan SME Development Organisation (ODIMM) as well as individual Moldovan (export-oriented) companies and their representative organisations. Main indirect stakeholders of the project were the Moldovan population at large that will benefit from better, higher quality and safer goods and services.
The project addressed the needs of Moldova in the quality infrastructure area in 5 important fields: supporting the quality infrastructure institutions, developing capacity in the market surveillance institutions, supporting the small and medium size enterprises, business support organisations and businesses with several training, workshops and coaching activities, organizing visibility activities and supporting the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure by delivering training and capacity building programmes.
To give some challenging numbers from the project implementation; the project achieved almost 500 identifiable outputs:
- 224 workshops were delivered
for Quality Infrastructure institutes and agencies for over 3000 participants;
- 62 international events/meetings were facilitated involving over 100 personnel;
- 90 workshops were delivered for over 100 SMEs, of whom 35 then participated in the bespoke coaching programme and achieved 200 outputs in their own right (business and marketing plans, exporting links, trading contracts with international retailers, etc.);
- 4 new Laws were drafted and
- 10 Laws were adapted.
In addition to the tangible outputs produced during the implementation of the project, the impact of the project can be listed in 3 outstanding areas.
With the introduction of a new version of ISO/IEC 17011 (Conformity Assessment- Requirements for Accreditation Bodies Accrediting Conformity Assessment) which came into force in 2017, National Accreditation Centre of the Republic of Moldova (MOLDAC) had to update its management system to incorporate the new requirements. With project support, internal documents were revised and updated, specialists trained (15 workshops attended by 268 participants), and MOLDAC participated in international events (31 missions for 42 delegates). MOLDAC successfully passed the European Accreditation- Bi-Lateral Agreement (EA BLA) peer evaluation in February 2019.
In May 2019, National Metrology Institute of Moldova (INM) became a full member of The European Association of National Metrology Institutes (EURAMET), achieved through (a) raising the competence of their specialists, (b) updating the INM management system taking into account requirements of the new standard ISO/IEC 17025; and (c) participation of INM key staff in international activities and events. The status of being a member of EURAMET significantly strengthens a country’s whole quality infrastructure system and contributes significantly to the removal of barriers to trade.
The SME consultancy programme embodied a whole range of potential impacts. The most obvious relates to the participating SMEs – they had an opportunity, particularly through the focused and intimate consultancy/coaching provided to articulate and grapple with the issues of greatest concern and begin to develop their ideas and themselves. This may lead some companies to export, or to export more, and it may lead other companies to be more effective and profitable in their home market; or it may lead to both. This approach was intended to serve as a sustainable methodology for achieving real impact on participating companies and to prove the value of consultancy in their development processes. The main impact on the beneficiaries’ companies from the application of the programmes was increasing SME competitiveness, innovation, access to new markets, and export capabilities.
Author: Emine Döğer, WEglobal Project Manager