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November 30, 2021

NGOs protest EU funding web application failure

Several non-governmental organisations yesterday issued press releases protesting against ‘severe problems’ in the online registration of projects for EU financing through the Human Resources Development Operational Programme. Registration was officially open yesterday at 10 a.m., with NGOs interested in obtaining financing for social economy projects having only 24 hours at their disposal to register their programmes. Moreover, the application was based on the ‘first come-first served’ system so in about 45 minutes after being made available, it was overflowed and froze, according to HotNews.ro. When contacted by the website, the head of the programme, Anca Cristina Zevedei, refused to make any comments. Following a wave of angry criticism from NGO’s though, Labour Minister Ioan Botis announced that the project registration process was halted and would be resumed on Monday, December 27. He added that no project was filed in its entirety since the application was launched and that the ActionWeb electronic system used will be checked by IT specialists from the ministry and other experts from the Ministry of Communications. A total of EUR 130 M is available for projects in social economy, enough to cover about 165 projects, the minister added. Before Botis made this announcement, NGO’s accused the Labour Ministry and the Management Authority in charge of this programme of “blocking access to entities interested in accessing structural funds destined to social economy and supporting disadvantaged groups in Romania,” according to a press release from the Institute for Public Policies (IPP).

IPP also said in the release that it would notify the European Parliament and EU member states’ ambassadors about the “irregularities” encountered in the process of accessing EU funds. The NGO underlined that Romania has a “serious problem” accessing structural funds because of local public institutions, “corruption and negligence” in the system. The low rate of EU fund absorption in Romania is apparently a cause for concern of the European Commission as well, according to an internal document of the Brussels executive obtained last week by ‘Financiarul.’ The document reveals the real manner in which Romania is perceived by EC experts, as a country with a conflicting political class which is not able to manage projects of national interest, a poorly-trained and politicised public administration and lack of vision and strategy at government level. The solution eyed by the EC would be a tough one: a general reorganisation of administration and direct involvement of the Commission in structural funds’ absorption, the newspaper said.

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