Political researcher about EU financial assistance in the time of COVID-19


Political researcher Dionis Cenușa said the assistance provided by the European Union in the time of the pandemic to the Republic of Moldova and other countries of the Eastern Partnership is very important, but the criteria according to which this assistance is provided to each state are not clear. The European partners are those who should respond these questions so as to eliminate any speculation. As it is evident that the government cannot put such questions because it will be automatically blamed for attacking the EU, the expert recommends the opposition politicians to do this, especially because Maia Sandu or Andrei Năstase enjoy more credibility in Brussels than the whole Government taken together.

According to Dionis Cenușa, who is quoted by IPN, the European Union is an important backer of Moldova and other EaP countries and there is no better alternative than the European integration for the country and the region. But this should be based on objective assessments of the situation in the country, including when there are political preconditions or conditionality elements that were permanently promoted to stimulate the development of Moldovan democracy.

“We appreciated the assistance announced by the EU for the Eastern neighbors nine days ago, on March 30, 2020. The assistance was promised to six countries without specifying the amounts for each country apart. At that moment, the European partners announced the reallocation of €140 million for the most immediate needs and the redirection of another €700 million for other programs for easing the burden of the socioeconomic impact of the virus. Besides these sums, there was announced an amount of €100 million for supporting the SMEs. The accessing of another €200 million was to be simplified within the EU4Business initiative,” the researcher posted on Facebook.

On April 8, the European Common revealed how the money will be distributed by countries. According to Dionis Cenușa, several aspects deserve to be devoted attention. First of all, the associated countries, such as Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, separately received more than Belarus and Azerbaijan. The second interesting moment is that a non-associated country with an enhanced partnership with the EU - Armenia – receives by €5 million more than Moldova. Also, Ukraine, with a population that is ten times larger than that of Georgia, receives practically the same amount of assistance, while Moldova will get twice less than Georgia.

The researcher admits that the distribution of money would have counted less if there hadn’t been the crisis caused by COVID-19. Moldova witnesses the most negative developments – 1,174 infections and 27 deaths and is closer rather to Ukraine, which reported 1,668 infections and 52 deaths (by April 8). Nevertheless, the EU’s assistance intended for the COVID-19 crisis situation is not distributed according to the epidemiological criteria, or not only according to them. Thus, it is not clear why Georgia, with 211 infections and three deaths, gets €183 million, by €7 million less than Ukraine (€190m), which has a population of 37 million and eight times more infections.

“In other words, either Moldova needs more money or the money for Georgia and Armenia should have been distributed differently. There is no clarity as to the criteria used by the European partners when distributing the assistance. Did they take into account epidemiological aspects, such as the number of infections, infection tendencies, state of the public health care system, economic aspects, such as the effects on the real sector of the economy, service sector, remittances and others, political aspects, such as the performance of the government, the government’s relationship with the opposition, etc.? Most probably, it was a mixed set of criteria, but this should be explained by the European partners,” stated the expert.

According to him, at economic level all the countries will be affected because of domestic reasons and also because of the dependence on the EU and, less, on Russia, as collateral effects. Moldova’s health system is under enormous pressure, which is greater than in other EaP countries, given the population of 2.9 million and the large number of infections. If it goes to political aspects, it is not clear what the list of problems addressed to the Moldovan authorities is. “If there are problems related to the political preconditions or conditionality elements for disbursing the macro-financial assistance, which are these? Why doesn’t the informal/oligarchic regime of Georgia bother at least as much as the government in Chisinau, a part of which openly sympathizes with Russia (Socialists)? These are pertinent questions to which we do not have clear answers so as to eliminate any speculation and the European partners can answer them much better than anyone else,” concluded Dionis Cenușa.