Today, the European Union has disbursed a grant of €36.4 million for the Republic of Moldova to continue supporting country's fight against COVID-19 and police reform. Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi confirmed the disbursement during the visit of Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița and Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Nicu Popescu in Brussels.
Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, said: "The EU provided this support after the Republic of Moldova met the conditions for disbursement, notably progressing on key reform priorities in the law enforcement sector and in the fight against COVID-19. They demonstrate the EU's commitment to supporting a pro-reform for the Republic of Moldova, as announced in the Economic Recovery Plan for the Republic of Moldova, published on 2 June. This assistance will help the Republic of Moldova to strengthen the resilience of its health sector, support the economic recovery process, and support the fight against COVID-19 in the law enforcement area."
As part of the EU's Economic Recovery package of up to €600 million over the next three years to promote investments in Moldova and support recovery from the COVID-19 crisis in the country, today's disbursements consists of:
-Support to Police Reform in the Republic of Moldova (€21.4 million): Since 2016, this EU programme has supported the Moldovan police force in modernising and professionalising its structures. When COVID-19 broke out, front line workers in the law enforcement sector were put at risk. Against this background, €21.4 million worth of grant funding under the Police Reform Programme was mobilised to combat COVID-19 in the law enforcement sector. In addition, progress on the police reform and public trust continued to increase: In October 2020, the percentage of people expressing trust in the police reached 41%, up from 39.5% in 2019. The share of women in the police force also continued its upward trend, reaching 19.9% in 2020. Moldovan police improved their record with respect to human rights, and continued the roll-out of community policing. Finally, the promotion of a zero-tolerance policy toward corruption continued through awareness campaigns and training for police employees.
-Support to mitigating socio-economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic (€15 million): This EU programme, which was adopted in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, has supported the resilience of the Moldovan health system, as well as the economic recovery of micro, small and medium size enterprises (MSMEs). Loans with subsidised interest rates, financial guarantees and grants were granted to SMEs, including in rural areas, to help them mitigate the negative economic impact of the pandemic. When physical shops had to close, SMEs were supported to go digital through a dedicated programme. Additional measures such as unemployment benefits, tax relief, extension of the period of the VAT refund programme for agricultural producers, among others, were also put in place.
All EU assistance is subject to strict conditions. The European Union closely monitors the political situation and assesses the fulfilment of the conditions ahead of any budget support payment. In addition to progress on key reforms, there must be no backsliding in the protection of fundamental rights and the rule of law in Moldova.
Today's budget support payment is part of Team Europe's overall support to Moldova to overcome the pandemic, and builds on joint efforts with EU Member States. Earlier this year, Moldova was the first European country to receive donations of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility and the EU vaccine-sharing mechanism. To date, Moldova has received more than 1 million doses of vaccines (more than 500,000 from the COVAX facility, and more than 500,000 from the EU vaccine-sharing mechanism).
The European Commission has quickly mobilised a tailor-made COVID-19 response package specifically for Moldova, worth over €127 million in grants from the EU budget. As part of the overall Team Europe response, this package is used to deliver concrete support to the people of Moldova. For example, a €5 million bilateral programme with the World Health Organisation (WHO) was launched in January 2021 to provide additional equipment for the healthcare system and support the roll-out of the vaccine.
In addition, an emergency COVID-19 macro-financial assistance programme for Moldova, worth €100 million in loans on highly favourable terms, was adopted in April 2020. The first instalment of €50 million was disbursed in November 2020. The second instalment of €50 million is set to be paid in October 2021.
On 2 June 2021 the European Commission announced an Economic Recovery Plan for the Republic of Moldova. This is an unprecedented effort: the Commission will mobilise up to €600 million over the next three years to promote investments in Moldova and support recovery from the COVID-19 crisis in the country, in exchange for structural reforms. Budget support programmes offer grant funding to partner countries to advance on agreed reform priorities.
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