Margot Wallstrom is minister of foreign affairs of Sweden, Jacek Czaputowicz is minister of foreign affairs of Poland, Tomas Petricek is minister of foreign affairs of the Czech Republic
Eastern Europe Matters
on the organization of the debate “Chances of fulfilling the 28 conditions for obtaining €100 million from the EU or How real is the government’s objective to make the European course irreversible until the parliamentary elections?”. Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”
Held on 12 December 2017, Debate 85 brought together Valentina Buliga, Democratic MP; Ion Ranga, member of the Permanent Bureau of the European People’s Party; Viorel Cibotaru, president of the Liberal Democratic Party; expert Veaceslav Ioniță of the think-tank IDIS Viitorul; and Igor Boțan, ADEPT, as the Project’s standing expert.
Why this subject and why this selection of participants?
This subject is important because, in my opinion, it can shed more light on the perpetual question “Quo vadis Moldova?”. The logic of merging the two sentences into one headline is the following: Moldova can follow the path of reforms and modernization only with financial and technical support which, at this historical stage, is mainly offered by Moldova’s European partners. For this Moldova has to fulfill 28 clear conditions included in a €100 macrofinancial assistance memorandum. And this has to be done fast, too, because in almost a year Moldova will hold parliamentary elections. The outcome could either confirm and accelerate the country’s European course, or slow it down and even reverse it. It seems the government also feels this pressure, as in a meeting with the German Ambassador last week Prime Minister Pavel Filip stated: “Moldova is firmly committed to changing things from inside. Our objective is to make the European course irreversible by the end of the current Government’s term”.
This is a very important statement which, I think, attracted unfairly little media attention. It confirms that the authorities recognize this interdependence between the European assistance and the fulfillment of conditions, on the one side, and the completion of this election cycle and new parliamentary elections, on the other.
This selection of speakers allows us to address the issue in a complex manner. The opinion of such an influential actor as the Socialist Party would have obviously added to value of the debate, but regretfully its representative excused himself at the last moment.
The 100 million euros are undoubtedly necessary but the one hundred million euros question is: does the government and the political class in its entirety have enough capacities and will to fulfill the conditions in such a short period of time for the macrofinancial assistance to yield concrete results?
Before proceeding to answering this question however, the Project’s standing expert offered some introductory remarks on the basic definitions and notions as well as on the memorandum’s background. In particular, Igor Boțan said it is a common practice of the EU to provide macro-financial assistance to the partner states when this is needed on one condition – the country should have an agreement with the International Monetary Fund and the parameters concerning this assistance should be agreed with the IMF. The agreement with the IMF was signed in 2016 and the memorandum with the EU was to be signed much earlier in 2017, without any preconditions. However, owing to the problems related to the electoral system change in Moldova, following the debates in the European Parliament, it was decided that an exception should be made in the case of the Republic of Moldova and political conditions should be imposed for signing the memorandum and providing the assistance. “Usually, the financial assistance serves three causes – balance of payments, budget support and central bank’s reserves. These are usually the goals pursued when the European Union provides macro-financial assistance,” stated Igor Botan.
As regards the 28 conditions imposed by the EU, the expert said these refer fully to the areas of administration, financial sector governance, struggle against corruption and money laundering, reforms in the energy sector, improvement of the investment climate, etc. “It seems that the last-but-one chapter of the memorandum of understanding is about the ensuring of a multiparty system and these are the remnants of the debates we had in the course of this year on the amendment of the electoral system,” stated the expert.
Democratic MP Valentina Buliga said the signing of the documents for obtaining European macro-financial assistance is a positive signal for the Republic of Moldova. As a result of the signed memorandum and the European Parliament’s decision, the Republic of Moldova will get assistance to the value of €100 million, €40 million of which will come in the form of grants, while the rest as a loan. Moldova and the EU agreed that a series of reforms and institutional modernizations should be done as part of this memorandum and the processes have been launched. As regards the 28 imposed conditions, these continue to remain the commitments of the Government and the parliamentary alliance that really want the European integration course and the process of subscribing to the European values to be irreversible. The necessary determination exists both at governmental level and at parliamentary level.
To get the first installment of €30 million, €10 million of which in the form of grants, the government must implement ten measures and this process is monitored by the European partners. Among these are the Government reform that, according to the MP, has been already done and its impact and efficiency will be yet felt. A bill on money laundering fighting, which should match the European directives and practices, is to be passed in the final reading soon and this will be a step forward.
Viorel Cibotaru, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party, said the general situation in Moldova changed and the current government, from the perspective of the EU, is now extremely problematic. The EU and other development partners, when they say that they support Moldova, refer to the country’s European course, but have an objective and rather critical attitude of the government’s acts. The delay in providing the macro-financial assistance derives from here. Everything starts from known things, such as democratic deviations, large-scale political corruption, inability to do reforms in accordance with the assumed commitments, institutional incoherence, etc.
The Lib-Dem stated that the 28 conditions are absolutely clear and he would like the current government to carry them out as they are evidently for the benefit of society. The EU set a precedent concerning the provision of this type of financing by its decision to impose the 29th condition concerning the method of implementing these conditions. “When it is said that the Republic of Moldova or rather the government will obtain this macro-financial assistance, we should not pronounce ahead of time and should see how the conditions are fulfilled and are assessed. The assessment will definitely be drastic,” stated Viorel Cibotaru. He expects that the assessment will be rather critical, but yet hopes that the first tranche will be provided during the first two months of next year and this fact will be welcomed by the opposition, but with reserves, given the risk that the government could use this money in an electoral year for “electoral alms”.
Ion Ranga, a member of the Standing Bureau of the European People’s Party of Moldova, said that as regards the position of the party and its leader, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Iurie Leanca, they always said that Moldova asked and will yet ask from the EU not only support and financial assistance, but also particular pressure. The European People’s Party of Moldova approves of the conditions imposed by the EU because Moldova has an already created system and, regrettably, bureaucratic apparatus typical of the ex-Soviet states, which is replaced with difficulty. In such conditions, it is rather hard to do reforms and resistance is usually faced. Following this pressure and these conditions, progress has been made earlier, including in the case of the signing of the Association Agreement and DCFTA.
“We think the pressure and the insistence on particular conditions on the part of the European Union are not necessarily something bad. On the contrary, this will help us. Thus, we need the EU’s assistance. Besides this macro-financial assistance, and we should not focus on it only, there are many projects and support that come through the neighborhood policy and projects implemented in infrastructure. Our country continues to receive considerable support from the European Union. What we should now do is to continue to strengthen communication with the EU as after 2014, in particular in 2015, when three governments were changed during a year, stagnation was witnessed in communication and openness, consolidation of the relations with the EU. They now try to resume the intense dialogue,” stated the politician, noting that the continuous communication with the EU means coming closer to the ideal represented by the European community.
Veaceslav Ionita, expert of the Institute for Development and Social Initiative “Viitorul”, said the EU does not offer money for Moldova to offer something instead. The imposed conditions, even if they are aimed against someone or somebody and target the bureaucratic system or the less efficient political class, they are for the people’s benefit. “All the conditions of the European Union are actually presents intended for our people and here they show that we can, by particular efforts and if we are intelligent and fulfill them, to enjoy much greater benefits than the €100 million,” stated the expert.
As regards the possibility of obtaining the macro-financial assistance, the expert said there are two important aspects related to Moldova and the EU. Moldova witnesses the inertia of the system. There is resistance, including political, to particular changes. The country needs this assistance as the budget construction for next year makes the state dependent on it. The state budget revenues collected this year are by about 3 billion lei larger than the projections and this sum offsets somehow the foreign relations handicap. Next year such a sum would not be collected and the void could not be filled without the assistance of the foreign partners. The situation is now more difficult as, until recently, the EU focused on technical, quantitative issues, but now centers on a qualitative assessment.
The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 12.12.17, „Chances of fulfilling 28 conditions for obtaining €100m from EU, IPN debate” - http://ipn.md/en/integrare-europeana/88180; „Ion Ranga: The 28 conditions imposed by EU are not necessarily something negative” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/88181; „Igor Botan: Implementation is key in disbursements of EU funds” - http://ipn.md/en/integrare-europeana/88183; „Valentina Buliga: Conditions are implemented not for EU, but for people” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/88185; on 13.12.17: „Viorel Cibotaru: EU has an objective and critical attitude to government’s acts” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/88188, „Veaceslav Ionita: EU’s conditions are presents for Moldovans” - http://ipn.md/en/integrare-europeana/88189; „Veaceslav Ionita: EU wishes Moldova only good” - http://ipn.md/en/integrare-europeana/88198.
IPN promoted the debate before and after the event, in particular the ensuing news stories, using all the available channels, including social networks. Confirmatory materials of deliverables, as well as a media coverage dossier are attached.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN
Eastern Europe Matters
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