Virtual EU-Awareness Workshop for discussing the EU Moldova Association Agreement in Edinet, Moldau

On Thursday 04 June 2020 , within the framework of the project “EU percep­tions and reality in Moldova (WE&EU)” the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP), the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE) and the Institute for Strategic Initia­tives (IPIS) jointly organised the fourth (virtual) EU Awareness Workshop targeting the Rayon Edinet, Moldova. . Around thirty local repre­sen­ta­tives of politics, economy and civil society took part in this online workshop.

The aim of the event was both to promote an infor­mative exchange about the EU associ­ation agreement as well as to gain insights into the percep­tions of local actors of society with regards to the imple­men­tation of the agreement. In order to counter misin­for­mation and myths, project materials such as fact-checks and videos about EU-success stories were shared with the audience.

In the beginning of the event, the signif­i­cance of a fact-based exchange and discussion for an effective political decision making was empha­sized. This was followed by an intro­duction of two fact-checks:one informing about the financial assis­tance of the Republic of Moldova provided by the EU and another one highlighting the benefits of the bilateral trade since the launch of the associ­ation agreement. In this regard, it was stressed that the EU remains Moldova’s biggest donor – especially also within the present crisis situation. It was mentioned that from 2009–2019 1,9 Billion EUR of financial assis­tance have been offered to the Republic of Moldova and in order to mitigate the Covid-Crisis 87 Mio EUR have been directed towards the health and social sector, as well as another 100 Million EUR will be provided for macro­eco­nomic stabi­lization. Through sharing specific infor­mation and facts with the partic­i­pants, the first part of the event provided trans­parency about the economic dimension of the EU-Moldova relations. The second part of the event served as a platform to promote fact-based exchange on EU’s impact on the municipal level with the mayors of the rayon. Following an input on prominent Covid-19 related fake news that also circulate in the regional media, majors of the region highlighted challenges they face when cooper­ating with national author­ities in Chişinău. In this context, it was highlighted that the budget allocation for projects turns out to be more efficient when realized in a decen­tralized way. While the cooper­ation with central author­ities has been experi­enced to be often ineffi­cient, this deficiency at the same time contributes to the lack of awareness within the population when it comes to the imple­men­tation of EU funded projects. The unawareness among Moldovan citizens about EU support for the health care sector during the Covid-19 crisis is the latest prominent example. Thus, it was concluded that a substantial decen­tral­ization of EU assis­tance and units of admin­is­tration was necessary in order to improve the perception that imple­men­tation of EU assis­tance was rather ineffective and ineffi­cient. This concern was also shared by the present experts who reempha­sized the corre­lation between greater autonomy and more visible successes in the realization of project ideas. Overall, the discus­sions during the event took place in a very factual and objective manner. Following the event, an anonymized survey was carried out which displayed a high resonance and affir­mation of the event among the present partic­i­pants.

The project “WE&EU: EU Percep­tions and Reality in Moldova” aims at making a substantial contri­bution to overcoming the societal dividing lines in Moldova regarding the EU rapprochement process by promoting informed intra-societal dialogue on the specific contents and under­lying values of the EU-Moldova Associ­ation Agreement and the concrete benefits of modernising Moldova in the course of the EU rapprochement process. The project activ­ities between July 2019 and June 2020 include citizens’ dialogues, workshops, public confer­ences and TV debates in diverse regions such as Basarabeasca, Orhei, Nisporeni and Ungheni.

The project is kindly supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.

More infor­mation on the project can be found here.