Premier Viorica Dancila stated on Wednesday that she will meet EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu and that she has already talked with the Transport Minister, against the backdrop of the letter in which Corina Cretu talks about the risk of disengagement of EU grants.
“I know about Commissioner Corina Cretu’s letter, Regional Policy Commissioner. That letter is an assessment of last year’s activity in the field of transportation. I will meet Mrs Corina Cretu on the 21st, in Bacau. I can tell you I have already talked with the Transport Minister in order to see how we are speeding-up the European grants absorption process,” Viorica Dancila said when asked about Corina Cretu’s letter.
“I write to you about the current situation of investments in the transportation domain, as part of the Large Infrastructure Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 period. Considering we are approaching the halfway point of the current financial framework and that this is the moment in which the Commission’s services start the preparations for the next financial framework, I am extremely concerned about the planning and implementation of transport infrastructure projects that are co-financed in Romania by the Cohesion Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. (…) In this sense, Romanian authorities will have to give special attention to the budget exercise in 2019 and in subsequent years in order to avoid the disengagement of funds, since the projects that are in the second phase will near completion and the new projects risk being still in the starting phase, without generating the necessary expenditures,” European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu points out in the letter addressed to Transport Minister Lucian Sova, European Grants Minister Rovana Plumb and Premier Viorica Dancila on April 25..
Cretu warns that so far only four new major projects for the railway sector have been filed in 2014-2018, expressing her concern about the incipient phase of the projects.
“The preparation and presentation of new projects for the current financial framework has been significantly delayed. So far, only four major projects have been filed in four years: the Radna-Gurasada-Simeria railway section (EUR 1,306 million from the Cohesion Fund, approved), Phase II of the Sebes-Turda Highway (EUR 272 million from the ERDF, approved), the Campia Turzii – Ogra – Targu-Mures Highway (EUR 247 million from the Cohesion Fund, under assessment), and Bucharest Subway’s Main Line 6 (EUR 657 million from the Cohesion Fund, under assessment). Recently, Romanian authorities have announced a list of major transport projects that they want to forward to the Commission in 2018, including: Danube bridge at Braila, National Road 73 Brasov-Pitesti (phase two), sections 1 and 5 of Sibiu-Pitesti, Craiova-Pitesti, Transylvania Highway, and the Bacau beltway. I welcome the fact that new projects are being prepared for forwarding to the Commission, but at the same time I express my concern about their low level of maturity,” the letter reads.
The European Commissioner also points out that, because of this, our country risks “immediate disengagements.”
“The fact that the preparation of the projects is very poor and consequently focused on a limited number of investments, means that the delays registered in the implementation of these handful of projects could lead to immediate disengagements that year, thus endangering not only the priority transport axes that are part of the LIOP – considering the expectations from the sphere of these projects and the sums at stake – but also the cohesion policy in Romania in general,” according to the mentioned source.