Virtual Citizens‘ Dialogue aims at countering Myhts and Preconceptions about the EU Association Agreement in Drochia, Moldova
On 20 May 2020 the fourth Citizens‘ Dialogue in the framework of the project “EU perceptions and reality in Moldova (WE&EU)” was jointly organized as a virtual event by the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP), the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE) and the Institute for Strategic Initiatives (IPIS) with citizens of Drochia in Moldova.
The aim of the event was to gain insights of a diversity of perspectives from local civil society regarding the EU-association agreement and its support for the EU as a whole. Another goal of the event was to provide facts and information to counter existing myths and misinformation. Prior to this online citizens’ dialogue video messages as well as fact-checks were shared with the participants. Around 30 representatives from local civil society, public authorities and local businesses from Drochia participated at the event which for the first time was hosted online.
During the first part of the event, experts shared their observation of the lack of support for the EU-approximation in parts of the Moldovan society although the EU remains its biggest donor. This being identified to be partly caused by a spread of insufficient or false information, the experts stressed the importance of improving communication while providing a more accessible and fact-based exchange of information for the local society. Accordingly, the second part of the event focused on EU projects in Drochia in the field of infrastructure development that contribute to improved living standards in the area. The discussion of the examples highlighted once again the consequences of successful or less successful project implementation for the general perception of the EU support. In this respect, poor management of projects as well as perceived double-standards, such as in the field of social and workers’ rights, were criticized. Furthermore, the participants expressed their concern of the missing visibility as well as the lack of communication and transparency in the implementation of projects, funded by the EU. Especially with regard to the disbursement of funds, many citizens are not feeling well enough informed or even see their preconceptions confirmed such as that EU-funds would not be reaching the citizens. While referring to the efforts of the EU to make its financial assistance to be allocated more efficient and transparent, it was also stressed that with the association agreement social and labor standards would be improved, provided that the government is implementing the agreement seriously. When speaking about the spread of fake news and false information within society, the participants reemphasized the responsibility of the citizens to remain alert regarding suspicious or unverified sources of information. In order to inform themselves citizens should rather rely on official facts published, for instance, by this project or the EU delegation. For the citizens of Drochia this first-time virtual citizens’ dialogue provided a fruitful and stimulating exchange that countered existing myths and misperceptions and that all participants wanted to be continued in the future.
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. It promotes the 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 association process. The project activities between July 2019 and June 2020 include citizens’ dialogues, awareness 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.