Moldova is a priority for Romanian assistance funds

[Analysis by Tudor Cojocariu, Romanian Center for European Policies, for Info-Prim Neo] The good, but old news is that Romania, as a member state of the EU, is obliged to become a donor of official development assistance (ODA) and Moldova was chosen by Romania as a priority for its ODA funds. The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the task of managing the total ODA funds that were €2.7 million in 2011, but fell to €2.4 million in 2012. One third of this money, i.e. about €800,000, will go to support the public administration of Moldova, provide technical assistance to the Government of Moldova, implement a research and innovation strategy, modernize the practices of the carabineer troops, and organize the second Forum of Romanian and Moldovan NGOs. The somehow bad news is that the given funds are managed through UNDP projects. This does not mean that the given approach is inefficient, but Romania’s contribution is indirect. It is hard to develop own expertise in such conditions and to make this effort by Romania known to the general public. A solution suggested by the Romanian Center for European Policies is to create a specialized agency within the Romanian Foreign Ministry, a kind of Romanian Agency for Development (Ro-Aid) that would work as a system for managing the ODA and the Romania-Moldova Development Fund. If such an agency is founded, it will have to professionally coordinate all the activities related to the assistance provided by Romania. Another recommendation that was already implemented after the joint meeting of the Governments of Moldova and Romania held in Iasi concerns a series of new projects that will be financed with the remaining about €92 million. It should be mentioned that this money do not form part of the ODA funds and are a direct contribution of Romania for Moldova’s benefit. There will be jointly drawn up a list of explicit criteria that will specify the strategy for using these resources. The two Governments and the relevant ministries of the two countries signed an additional protocol on the utilization of the non-reimbursable €15 million for environment protection and climate change projects. The agreement was signed after Romania pledged to contribute to the financing of measures against climate change in 2010-2012. Consequently, the funds should be used as soon as possible, during this year. The money will be coordinated directly by the Ministry of the Environment and Forests of Romania, which is a change to the better to a certain extent. Initially, the €100 million was to be managed by the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism of Romania. The provisions of the agreement apply to bilateral projects, private and public institutions, joint projects that derive from the actions taken in emergencies, investments in the energy sector, environment protection and climate change. In the spring of 2010, the Romanian authorities announced that they will provide €100 million to Moldova in non-reimbursable assistance. This topic has made the headlines of many media outlets interested in the relations between Romania and Moldova. About €8 million has been used so far, mainly to deal with the floods near the Prut River. The rest of the money was blocked by the bureaucracy of the two states. There were created two commissions of decision makers consisting of eight secretaries of state and, respectively, eight deputy ministers of Moldova. The Moldovan and Romanian authorities specified that the blockage was due to ‘system difficulties’. Moreover, the official Bucharest said the project proposals should be submitted by Chisinau. Thus, until the Moldovan ministries do not make effort to formulate relevant and useful proposals, the money will not be disbursed. We thus recommend that Romania should review the approach and technical mechanism for managing the €100 million, according to the recommendations made earlier.

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