The European Union is ready to provide Moldova with hundreds of millions of euros of macro-financial assistance, however, it will have to fulfill the conditions set for the government of Filip. That’s more difficult than it seems at first glance.
Financial rain from Europe awaits Moldova
Yesterday, for the first time since the end of the political crisis, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn arrived in Moldova and met with Prime Minister Maia Sandu and President Igor Dodon.
Hahn’s visit was held in the most complimenting mode for the new Moldovan authorities. Perhaps, Moldova has not heard so many positive words from high European officials for a long time. The European Union does not hide its satisfaction with how the domestic political turmoil in the country ended. Brussels cleared the height at a go – until recently seemed inviolable oligarchic regime is broken, the former unofficial master of Moldova fled the country, and representatives of the Brussels-supervised ACUM took key positions in the new government.
The change of the regime may bring, at least, a temporary taboo on Moldova’s criticism from the EU institutions, and a stick is gradually replaced by a carrot in the form of macro-financial assistance. In the matter of money for Chisinau Hahn was extremely optimistic. He noted that the long-promised tranche of 100 million euros (frozen after invalidation of the results of the elections of the Chisinau’s mayor) may arrive in September, and the EU will not stop there. According to some reports, Brussels is ready to allocate at least another 200 million euros to Moldova in the coming year. By the way, this is the amount Maia Sandu promised to attract from the EU to Moldova before the parliamentary elections.
Impressive financial cushion can be good for karma of the new government that will have to deal with a bloated fiscal deficit from the previous government and infamous projects of the Democrats like “Good roads” and “Prima casa”.
The terms of the Brussels ‘bureaucratic collaboration’
There is one important detail behind the benevolence of Johannes Hahn’s visit. The EU is not going to give money to Chisinau just for the overthrow of Vlad Plahotniuc, and is waiting for the fulfillment of certain conditions – those that Hahn articulated to Pavel Filip last year. It is interesting that then the government did not dare to publish the list of EU requirements. According to reports in the Moldovan media with reference to the European Commission, Brussels expected Chisinau to implement package reforms in the field of justice and taxation, the fight against corruption, and most importantly to punish those responsible for the ‘theft of a billion’ from Moldovan banks and to return the stolen money to Moldova.
In 2018, the EU has already long harbored no illusions about the then Moldovan authorities, realizing that these conditions were impossible for the regime of Vlad Plahotniuc, as represented a direct threat to its existence. Now the expectations of Brussels, of course, are much higher – at least, Johannes Hahn is absolutely sure that the new government will fulfill all European requirements. However, it is clear that neither until the autumn, when the first 100 million euros should come, nor even before the end of the year this will be possible since the scope of the work ahead is extremely broad. The money, if it really comes in September, can rather be seen as a kind of advance for the new government and an incentive to restart reforms. Another thing is that this process will not be easy.
Despite the victory over Plahotniuc and the Democratic Party, the Democrats have not gone away from Moldovan politics. The Democratic Party has made a tactical retreat to the opposition, but it is clearly not going to stay there for a long time and will try to prepare the ground for the triumphant return of its patron. The PDM has enough supporters in the state and municipal authorities who will certainly put a spoke in the wheels of the new government. This can be seen in the case of the theft of a billion – one of the key conditions for the EU to resume financial assistance. The Prosecutor General’s office, headed by henchmen of the previous regime, withdrew documents from the archives of the Parliament related to the investigation of the bank theft. This was reported by the chairman of ad hoc parliamentary commission, deputy from the ACUM bloc Alexandr Slusari. According to him, it is not yet possible to establish cooperation with the Prosecutor’s office, and all requests of deputies are simply ignored.
It is obvious that the Democrats will expect revenge during the early parliamentary elections, which will be held in the event of the collapse of the ACUM-PSRM union. Up to this point, they, using the remnants of administrative resources, will continue to torpedo the work of the government of Maia Sandu, not allowing to effectively implement the ‘European’ reforms. The mammoth task will certainly be sabotage of macro-financial assistance from the EU, which will undermine the confidence in the new government among the population and international partners, and in the wake of the socio-economic crisis will again bring the PDM to the top of power.
In this sense, it is too early to talk about deoligarchization as a fait accompli: Moldova is only at the beginning of this long and thorny way. The PSRM-ACUM coalition must understand that there is no time to celebrate the victory over the oligarch: decisive action is needed before the deposed regime once again raises its head.
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