Commissioner Cretu: Vital for Romania to speed up rhythm of European funds’ absorption and simplify procedures

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European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu stated on Tuesday in western Cluj that Romanian authorities should simplify the procedures needed to access European funding and to accelerate the absorption rhythm of community funds.

“It is vital that by next year, when the new draft budget for the 2020-2017 financial exercise interval is submitted, Romania speed up and show that it can use these European funds to the benefit of the citizens. (…) All regional programmes in Romania have been delayed primarily due to delays in public procurement. Only now it is the assessment of the projects that have been submitted being carried out, the external auditors were mobilised only at the beginning of 2017. Hence, consider the fact that we are talking about the 2014-2020 scheduling interval, and indeed, there are delays that should be rapidly recovered, increased efforts should be made to catch up the delays. It has to do mainly with simplifying access to European funds for the beneficiaries; from this point of view we are working hand in hand with national states. At European level we have submitted a streamlining draft starting with the current financial exercise and we recommend all member states to refrain from adding red tape things besides the European regulations. Therefore I am all in favour of a radical simplification, but at the same time, let us make sure that the European money is spent fairly and here we must find the right balance between the need to streamline and the urge to ensure an efficient control of the European money, of the European contributors,” Corina Cretu affirmed.

She also stressed that the national authorities should support municipalities in accessing European funds and, at the same time, to place a higher emphasis on innovation.

In her turn, Minister-Delegate for European Funds Rovana Plumb stated that Romania has overcome some of the delays in accessing European funds. The minister added that important steps have been made with regard to simplifying the accessing procedures for community funds.

European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu participated on Tuesday, in a working meeting with the local and regional authorities, held at the seat of Cluj Prefecture.

 

” North-Western region spent 9 0f 10 euros in its 2007-2015 financial exercise”

 

The North-Western region is one of the best performing in Romania and it can be considered a model, as it managed to conclude the 2007-2015 financial exercise with 410 million euros spent out of the 450 million available, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu stated on Monday in Dej.

The European Commissioner specified that it is recommendable for all regions and counties to make an analysis of the previous multi-annual exercise and establish their priorities for the future.

“We are analyzing the results after the conclusion of the 2007-2015 period and practically, out of the 450 million granted to the North-Western region, the region spent 410, which is above the country average. Of course, the needs are very high, for there are historical disparities, poverty is very high, which is precisely why my recommendation is that in all counties to be carried out and analysis of the funds and priorities, which is the most important thing for the citizens. The North-Western region is the champion among all, for it concluded the financial exercise with 9 euros out of 10 spent, which I believe is a performance,” said Corina Cretu.

The Commissioner also specified that, for the ongoing financial exercise, it can already be said that in the North-Western region the request for European funds has already overrun several times the funds available, based on the submitted projects.

“If we are referring to small and medium-sized enterprises, there have been submitted seven times more projects than the money we have, while in other areas we are complaining that there are no projects. Which is why we rely on the local authorities that have billions in their hands, which they need to implement, and they must have the necessary administrative capacity. We are here to grant them the technical assistance and to help them,” said Corina Cretu.

She encouraged the development regions to make maximum use of this chance of having European funds available for the ongoing financial exercise.

Corina Cretu paid a visit on Monday evening to a project developed with European funds at the Dej-based Municipal Hospital.

According to Dej Mayor Costan Morar, the modernization of the hospital ambulatory was done in 2010-2012 with 500,000 euros, out of which the local contribution was 2 per cent.

“We arranged seven spaces for medical cabinets, laboratory and 25,000 patients had medical checks every year, which means that 125,000 patients were seen by the doctors in five years. The hospital is doing good now from a financial perspective and we also invested in a scanner, mammograph, radiography device, in the wards, it is a modern hospital” said the Mayor.

 

Corina Cretu about accessing EU funding: To European rules, Romania adds excessive red tape

 

European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu stated on Monday in western Zalau that Romania has excessive red tape in accessing European funds, with 5,000-page projects that need to be filled in and with additional regulations to those requested by the European institutions.

“Simplifying the beneficiaries’ access to European funds is a priority of my mandate and I have already submitted to the European Parliament a series of streamlining measures for this financial exercise, because I am aware that accessing European funds has become a very complex process and many abandon the idea of using European funding because the process is far too complex and complicated. We have European laws. Unfortunately, to these European laws, Romania has added excessive bureaucracy. It is the only country where we have projects that require the filling in of 5,000-page forms. This is unacceptable, as far as I am concerned,” Corina Cretu told “Dialogue with the citizens” conference.

Present at the meeting in Zalau, Rovana Plumb, Minister-delegate for European Funds maintained that the Romanian authorities have already started the red-tape simplification process regarding the European funding access and it is 80 percent completed.

Corina Cretu and Rovana Plumb were on an official visit on Monday in Salaj county, to participate in the conference titled “Dialogue with the citizens”. On behalf of the European Commission, the head of the REGI Committee with the European Parliament, Lambert von Nistelrooij and The European Commission’s DG Regio’s Head of Unit for Romania, Carsten Rassmussen also participated in the conference.

 

“Unless we pay attention to rural areas, we risk having urban agglomerations, empty countries”

 

European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Cretu said on Monday that attention should be paid not only to urban agglomerations but also to villages, as there is a risk for rural areas to be depopulated over cities in the future.

“Since my first year as European Commissioner, I have said that we have a contradiction in European regulations, in the sense we encourage a great deal the developments in urban agglomerations. Of course, cities are very important because it is there where there are the most problems and the most challenges and it is a problem to find solutions, but, on the other hand, if we do not pay enough attention to the rural environment, we risk having urban agglomerations and, in the rest, countries completely empty or populated only by adults, because the youths are leaving,” Corina Cretu told the conference “In Dialogue with Citizens,” in northwestern Zalau.

The European Commissioner for Regional Policy added that one of the solutions for bringing young people to villages is the introduction of broadband internet, a project for which she has been campaigning since the beginning of her mandate.

“I have launched a series of actions at European level, together with my colleague, Commissioner Phil Hogan [European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development], for the Internet coverage of rural areas and his ambition is that, in combination with our funds, to succeed in bringing broadband Internet to all rural areas. I saw that when I talked about this, I was told that where we do not have toilets, we should not speak about the Internet. I think these things have to go hand in hand: ensuring decent living, but also, on the other hand, these urgent needs for a young person, for example, to return to the village. Without an Internet connection, they have no chance to develop a personal business, no chance to return. The urban agenda is very important, but, on the other hand, the village, in general, must not be left behind,” Cretu pointed out.