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March 23, 2023

European Commission suspends EU fund disbursements to Romania

Representatives of the competent Authority for Funding from the European Social Fund and of the Court of Auditors yesterday admitted to the fact that, further to an inspection by the European Commission (EC) conducted on February 11, disbursements to Romania within the Operational Programme Human Resources Development (POS DRU) had been ‘temporarily suspended’, Hotnews informs. At a round table organised by the Coalition 112 for Structural Funds, POS DRU officials explained Brussels had decided to put on hold the processing of refund applications worth EUR 8 M submitted by February 11, plus further claims that had been filed in the last month.

Romanian authorities and the EC have exchanged information trying to solve the issue all this time, with a new review to take place around April 19. The representatives of the Coalition 112 for Structural Funds say the main reasons given by the Commission were the operation of SMIS (centralized IT system enabling the monitoring of projects financed with Structural and Cohesion Funds), understaffing and excessive bureaucracy. The Labour Ministry has issued a release explaining that ‘former POS DRU director Cristina Iova had been dismissed exactly for those reasons in early 2010’.

However, at the time when Cristina Iova was removed from office, the official explanation was that ‘her interim service period had expired’.

EUR 2.7 bln structural funds through operational programmes

In 2007-2009, Romania obtained non-repayable structural and cohesion funds worth EUR 2.7 bln of which EUR 443.7 M have already been disbursed to finance approved projects in the framework of seven operational programmes of the Cohesion Policy 2007-2013, Mediafax reports. From 2007 to September 30, 2009, Romania submitted a total of 12,975 eligible EU financing applications in all seven operational programmes, with a total value of EUR 23.6 bln, a Public Finance Ministry report to the European Commission shows.

Co-financing required by the EU in connection with all these projects amounts to EUR 16 bln, 2.8 times bigger than EU-allocated financing for the 2007-2009 period. Of the 2,672 approved projects, financing resolutions have been concluded with beneficiaries for 1,887 projects with a total eligible value of EUR 3.3 bln, of which the EU contribution is EUR 2.7 bln – less than a half (47.6 per cent) of the 2007-2009 allocation. Total payments of EUR 447.8 M of which EUR 443.7 M EU funds and EUR 4.12 M state budget funds – have been already made to beneficiaries as pre-financing and returns by management authorities. Funds already attributed to projects represent 27 per cent of the total EUR 344.3 bln allocated for the 2007-2013 cohesion programme, according to a report published by the EC yesterday.

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