KIEV, March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Yesterday's hearing on "Financing of the Eastern Partnership" of the European Parliament's Budgetary Committee was in many ways a typical Brussels event. The officials involved in the Eastern Partnership Program were self-congratulatory about its alleged achievements, but the key focus remained on the many issues and challenges which remain unaddressed in terms of the Eastern Partnership Integration and Cooperation's (EaPic) implementation of funding.
The major focus was placed on the challenges facing the key financial instrument for the European Neighborhood region which constitutes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Amongst others, these challenges include better involvement of stakeholders such as member states and civil society, improving absorption capacity and the use of innovative aid modalities and, most importantly, better control over the distribution process.
Addressing the Parliament Sidonia Jedrzejewska, Rapporteur for the hearing raised her concerns of the lack of transparency in regards to the Commission's management and implementation of EU funded projects in the EaP countries.
Speaking as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Jacek Saryusz- Wolski raised a number of valid points in regards to the distribution of funding to the European Neighborhood region. As a MEP from Poland, a country that was previously in the exact same position as a recipient of this funding as well as a former European Union candidate, Wolski emphasized the need to draw conclusions and not repeat mistakes.
The key question raised was that it is not clear where the funds are going. It is not sufficient enough to provide aid without the proper implementation. Wolski also lobbied for firmer control over the receiving countries. 'You need to hand them a fishing rod, but not the fish,' he added.
Considering the vast amounts of resources that are annually allocated to countries such as Moldova and Ukraine from the overall budget of 2.8 billion Euros (2009-2013), there is a demand for a better system to measure the correlation between sums spent and results achieved.
Pablo Arias, MEP from the Spanish Delegation of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, commented after the hearings that he "welcomes the words of Sidonia Jedrzejewska with regards to the support to the Eastern Partnership Program. I believe that this program is an important mechanism of building partner relations with new countries in the East of Europe. At the same time, I believe that the European Commission should take a strict approach to the reports of corruption and misuse of EU funds in the countries involved in the EaP -Moldova, Ukraine and others."
Srdjan Trifkovic, foreign affairs editor at Chronicles magazine, who attended the hearing commented that "the lenient attitude of EU officials regarding the patchy record of some "Eastern Partners" on corruption, democratization, and the rule of law, is in stark contrast with the ever-moving goal posts for the aspiring EU members in the Western Balkans."
SOURCE Institute of Ukrainian Policy