The Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP), the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE) and the Institute for Strategic Initiatives (IPIS) held the fourth (virtual) EU Awareness Workshop, with citizens from Edinet, in Moldova on Thursday, June 4, 2020, within the framework of the project "EU Associations and Reality in Moldova (WE&EU)". About 30 participants took part, including local representatives of politics, economy and civil society.
The aim of the event was to promote an informative exchange about the EU Association Agreement and to get to know the assessments of local actors on the implementation of the agreement. In addition, the presentation of fact-checks and selected videos on EU success stories, prepared within the framework of the project, was intended to counteract widespread misinformation and myths.
After the opening session, the significance of fact-based exchange and discussion for policy decisions were reaffirmed, the first input part presented two fact-checks: one with detailed information on the EU's financial support to Moldova and one on the effects of bilateral trade relations since the Association Agreement entered into force. The data reiterated that the EU remains Moldova's largest and most important donor, especially in the current crisis situation. Thus, 1.9 billion euros in aid had been provided to Moldova in the period 2009-2019, as well as 87 million euros reallocated to the health sector in the current Covid crisis. Another 100 million euros have been promised for macroeconomic stabilization. While this part of the event was intended to create transparency on the economic dimension of EU-Moldova relations through targeted information, the second part sought fact-based exchange with local mayors from the region. After an input on the currently circulating false reports in the context of the Corona crisis, the discussion was dedicated to the practical challenges of the local level with the authorities in Chişinău. Even before the crisis, it had become apparent that the use of funds for projects on the spot proved to be particularly effective when managed in a decentralized manner, as cooperation with the central authorities often proved to be laborious and inefficient, and in some cases a lack of transparency made it difficult to implement projects. At the same time, there is a lack of visibility and knowledge about EU-funded projects, such as in the health sector during the current Covid 19 crisis. A further decentralization of EU aid as well as local administrative units would make the implementation of funding more effective and efficient, according to the general tenor of the participants. After the discussion, the experts largely agreed that greater local autonomy would lead to more visible success in the implementation of project ideas. Overall, the discussions within the workshop were very objective and fact-oriented and met with a high level of response from the participants.