BUCHAREST (AP) — The Republic of Moldova is set to receive an “unprecedented” 600 million-euro ($733 million) economic recovery package from the European Union over a three-year period, the EU’s executive arm announced Wednesday.

The European Commission said Moldova, which is not an EU member, will receive the funds between 2021 and 2024 to help the former Soviet republic sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic and to promote investment. The plan is conditional on judicial and anti-corruption reforms, the commission said

“The Republic of Moldova is at a crossroads,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. “The EU’s economic recovery plan is an unprecedented effort to help the country in its efforts to restore and boost the ambitious reform agenda in the interests of the people.”

Moldova ranked 115th out of the 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2020 Corruptions Perception Index, with first place being the least corrupt.

The EU money, which would come in the form of loans, grants and investments, is intended to promote economic growth and to focus on areas such as digital technology, infrastructure, and education. The EU extends financial aid known as macro financial assistance to partner countries under certain conditions.

Moldovan voters are set to cast ballots next month in an early parliamentary election that was called in April after the country’s pro-Western president, Maia Sandu, dissolved parliament. The move followed months of political deadlock.

Sandu beat Moscow-friendly incumbent Igor Dodon in a November presidential election. She campaigned on a pro-democracy, anti-corruption ticket and has expressed support for Moldova having closer ties with the EU, its biggest trade partner.

A survey carried out last month by the Moldovan polling firm Date Inteligente found that more than two-thirds of respondents favored the idea of the country joining the EU.

In 2020 the EU supported Moldova, with more than 127 million euros ($155 million) in grants to help the country of 3.5 million cope with the impact of the pandemic.

Stephen Mcgrath, The Associated Press

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