The European Union’s response to the COVID-19 crisis in the Eastern Partnership countries is extensive – from the medical protective equipment for health workers to the business support packages, from the macro-financial assistance to the support for the most affected by the pandemic. The public discussion on “The EU’s response to the COVID-19 crisis – how the EU helps the civil society in the Republic of Moldova” focused on the overcoming the issues related to the pandemic. The event was organized on 17 June by the EU Project team “Strategic communication and support to mass-media in the Republic of Moldova”.

Envisaged as part of the EU Talks/ Vorbește cu Europa/ Говорим с Европой” debates series, the event brought together in the online environment the representatives of several NGOs providing social services to vulnerable people who are the most affected by the pandemic and its economic consequences. HE Peter Michalko, EU Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova joined the discussion. Together, through the filter of their own experiences, but also from the stories of those who benefited from the support of the EU and the Member States during this period, the audience found out how NGOs help people to overcome difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first story came out from the “Casmed” Home Care Center in Bălți. Natalia Postolachi, the director of the center told that, due to the EU assistance, “Casmed” managed to continue providing social services to the people with disabilities in the Northern part of the country. The “Mobile Team” became an online social service.

The “Positive Initiative” Association continued its activity by establishing a therapeutic community in Anenii Noi to support people with HIV-AIDS. Benefiting from an EU grant through the Eastern European Foundation, the association was able to carry on providing specialized services during the pandemic.

Cristina Bobârcă told how she identifies and implements possible actions to reduce the negative impact of the pandemic at local level, together with the partners from the regions. This initiative is part of the EU project “Citizens’ Empowerment in the Republic of Moldova”, implemented by GIZ and API. The motivation of the civic responsibility and people’s involvement in solving local issues is focused on water and sanitation, solid waste management, energy efficiency and environmental protection.

Marina Albu, the president of the LEADER National Network, which is implemented by the Solidarity Fund PL Moldova, talked about the support provided by the EU and Polish Aid for the rural development of the country – small infrastructure interventions, financing entrepreneurs and promoting local values.

The EU ambassador emphasized the role of the associative sector during such a difficult period in helping people to get over the crisis and mentioned that the EU remains close to this vital part of society.

In this context, the diplomat recalled that the EU response to the coronavirus pandemic for the Eastern Partnership countries, launched at the end of March, includes expressly a package of support for civil society organizations and stressed that other programs intended for this sector will be launched this year.

EU Talks/ Vorbește cu Europa/ Говорим с Европой” event attracted the attention of a wide audience, being followed on various media platforms by over 44 thousand people across the country. At the same time, more than 50 people, mostly civic activists, journalists and representatives of local and national NGOs, addressed questions and received live answers about the issues concerning them currently, alongside with useful information about EU funds that can be accessed in the nearest future.

The EU Talks events will be resumed in the autumn with new actual topics related to the EU assistance for the Republic of Moldova and its citizens.