Brussels warns Romania: Finalize European projects by 2016


In a letter dated January 8, 2014, Vittoria Alliata di Villafranca, Director of Budget Affairs at the European Commission’s General Directorate for Regional Policy (DG REGIO), notified Eugen Teodorovici, Minister of European Funds, that Romania must submit new projects in 2014 in order to cover the amounts granted to Romania which have not been used yet, and not lose the money, hotnews.ro informs. The letter was made public at the Annual Meeting with Romanian authorities from December 10, 2013. According to the EC letter, both parties – the European Commission and the Ministry of European Funds (MFE) – have agreed that in this stage of the application process, the risk of not finalizing recently launched or already adopted projects before end-2015 should be managed carefully. Beneficiaries of unfinished projects and the Romanian authorities need to take (financial) responsibility and finalize them, so as to prevent losing the already reimbursed EU financing. Therefore, according to the EC representative, each project should be carefully monitored and correspondingly adjusted.
To prevent such risks, the Commission has asked MFE to revise the Priority Action Plan for European fund absorption. The letter contains several point-by-point observations with respect to each operational program. Thus, by end-February 2014, MFE must create a “major project monitoring system based on clear criteria, in order to avoid further delays,” the EC Director notes. This system will help monitor the progress of each individual project, from the contracting phase to execution and fund absorption, while keeping the Commission informed on a regular basis. Management authorities of ministries in question and the Ministry of European Funds must identify the cause of delay and implement corrective measures, the document cited by hotnews.ro shows. Romania can still absorb European money granted during the 2007-2013 programing period by end-2015, but Vittoria Alliata di Villafranca has warned Teodorovici that the country needs to submit the last projects as soon as possible in 2014 to stand a chance at absorbing funding for them. “Officially, the submission deadline is mid-2015, but projects that have not been submitted in 2014 have no real chance at implementation. It is important for these projects to be included on the same list as the projects which will be annulled, postponed, redistributed, or supplemented from the state budget,” the DG REGIO Director has said. “2014 must be a year of delivery and implementation, as Romania still 65 percent of the Funds available,” said Vittoria Alliata di Villafranca.
The EC official underlined Romania must be dedicated to finalizing projects and accelerating their implementation, “with a focus on results in the months ahead.”
In this respect, the Director told Romanian authorities they need a clearer dialogue with the European Commission in order to benefit from the Commission’s help.

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