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The fact that Bulgaria chose to concentrate on the Western Balkans shows that the Eastern Partnership will not be in the center of the EU’s attention for at least six months, political pundit Dionis Cenusa wrote in an analysis article for IPN Agency.
According to the politologist, in practical terms this cannot essentially influence the situation of the countries that managed to develop a separate bilateral legal and institutional framework with the EU. Consequently, the countries with Association Agreements, which include Moldova, will continue to be in the orbit of the EU, but the Eastern European countries without new agreements with the EU (Azerbaijan, Belarus) could be partially in the shadow.
In reality, the financial resources for Moldova and other EaP countries are pre-established until 2020. That’s why Bulgaria’s efforts to muster funds and attention for the Western Balkans cannot modify the budget for the Eastern European countries if only the governments of Moldova, Ukraine or other countries fail to do particular reforms, explained Dionis Cenusa.
In such a case, the money will be simply redirected for other EU costs, including for projects in the Balkans. This also applies to the direct budget support, macro-financial assistance or grant components (for example, energy projects) that Brussels has available for Moldova. The €28 million in budget support, which was intended initially for the justice sector reform in Moldova, but wasn’t transferred by the EU due to the insufficient progress made in 2014-2015, went through such a circuit.
What puts Moldova in difficulty in the long and medium terms is the wish of Bulgaria and of the EU in general to focus on the integration of the Western Balkans into the European area. Even if this will have a positive impact on the reduction of insecurities in Europe, the digestion of the Western Balkans will necessitate time and resources that will decrease after 2020 owing to the Brexit.
Besides the political saturation of the EU for enlargement following the absorption of the Western Balkans, Moldova and other EaP states could experience a shortage of EU funds, concluded the expert.
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