Stimulation of reforms in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine: new conditionality vs European perspective

The reform agenda is a complicated process for the governments associated with corrupt practices, which also shows a “metathesiophobia” (fear of changes) in relation to reforms. Consequently, the real reforms are seen in countries with such governments as something inconvenient that should be delayed, simulated, measured or even obstructed.

Though they form the intimate circle of the European integration within the Eastern Partnership, the current political classes in Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia are powerfully affected by the fear of changes produced by profound and irreversible reforms. This reform-phobia is determined by the essence of the dominant political class whose driving force results mainly from the informal relations built on the flow of immediate or long-term revenues and the competition for obtaining these.So, the presence of oligarchs in the political systems of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia is a decisive factor that powerfully diminishes the fluidity, quality and impact of reforms (Expert-Grup, June 2017).

In an attempt to protect their image of “useful oligarchs” (IPN, October 2016), the oligarchic groups that fully or partially control the decision-making processes in these countries tend to look friendly towards reforms. Their tolerance of reforms ends yet there where the personal interests that form the pillars of oligarchic pyramids start.Starting with 2009 until now, the European integration process has deeper penetrated Eastern Europe through theEastern Partnership. Since then, the visa liberalization action plans initiated in Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia were the mechanism that most powerfully encouraged sector reforms.
Before the signing of AssociationAgreements, namely the liberalization of visas animated essential changes in the management of borders,migration or personal data, intersecting sensitive areas related to human rights, such as non-discrimination of sexual minorities. The obtaining of the right to travel visa-free in the Schengen area for their citizens was the stake of these changes assumed by the political elites of the three states. The question arises as to what else the European Union can offer to simulate reforms in the countries with which it signed Association Agreements and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements. Should additional stimuli be given to them when the reforms themselves represent an imperative for their economies and citizens…

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