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European commissioner Dacian Ciolos said at the end of the visit paid these days to Bucharest that he obtained in the negotiation of the EU budget for 2014-2020 a higher allocation than the current one, and the focus should be on absorbing this money, rather than analysing whether one could win or lose more during negotiations, Mediafax reports. Ciolos added that Romania had an important allocation for the current budgetary period too, 2007-2013, but it has problems with the absorption. The EU official did not want to comment the figures that were allocated to Romania, saying that “President Traian Basescu is the most entitled to present them,” because he participated in the negotiation.
Asked whether he sees as realistic the goal announced by the minister of European Funds, Eugen Teodorovici, to reach an absorption rate of structural funds that will exceed 50 pc at the end of 2013, from the current level of 11.47 pc, Ciolos said that “it will be very hard.” “I cannot comment the ambitions of the minister, I hope they will go even beyond 50 pc, although – I must admit – it will be very hard, given the starting situation. (…) But being low until now does not mean it cannot increase from now on,” Ciolos mentioned.
He explained that the commitment rate of structural funds during 2007-2013 is “high,” as the contracts for projects are signed and the problems are about their execution and in sorting out the issues at the level of management authorities.
The European commissioner also mentioned that the bureaucratic procedures in the absorption of European funds are among the most complex in Romania and that one can make “a direct connection between bureaucracy and absorption rate, although this is not determined only by bureaucracy.” He said that “serious simplifications” can be made especially in “inter-institutional relations,” not necessarily at the level management authority-beneficiary.
Ciolos added that he talked with Romanian officials about preparing the national framework and the partnership accord with the European Commission for the 2014-2020 financial exercise, as Romania must finalise these efforts in the coming months.
He also warned that Romania could be faced with the risk of decommitting or losing European funds for rural development in 2014 or two years from now, if it does not maintain a high rate of achieving projects and making payments. “There might exist this risk next year or two years from now, if the accelerated rate of payments is not maintained. The committing rate is good, but there is slower progress in achieving projects,” Dacian Ciolos said. The official added that the absorption of funds in the sector of direct payments reached almost 100 pc, while for rural development the rate is 38 pc, without payments in advance. “For direct payments, the absorption is near 100 pc. There are several percent points, technical losses. For rural development, the absorption for Romania is about 44 pc compared to the budgetary allocation, and without advance payments it would be 38 pc,” the European commissioner explained.