One of the Romania’s priorities concerning the drawing of structural funds is the qualitative spending of European funds by 2013, European Affairs Minister Leonard Orban stated during the conference titled “The participative drafting of Romania’s strategic European documents, 2014-2020”, an event organized by the Soros Foundation and the NGO Coalition for Structural Funds. “I don’t think it will still be possible to get copy-paste projects where only the names of beneficiaries have been changed. (…) The cohesion policy is being questioned at EU level and it has to be proved that it can create plus-value. Furthermore, there is a risk of losing funds for 2012 and the highest risk as far as 2013 is concerned,” the minister added.
Orban opened his speech by underlining, at the risk of becoming repetitive, that procedures at the level of public institutions should be simplified in order to draw more European funds. “Here there’s a lot more red tape and exigencies are higher than the EU legislation requires. The process should become more transparent, but I realized this is no easy task. I am determined to go on with the process and I here state we want every management authority to post full information on the website concerning progress in the processing of applications, as of next year,” Orban stated.
The minister stressed another important aspect, namely, that there is more rigour is needed in public institutions at all levels, as at present there are situations when the European funds are stalled at the beneficiaries and, in practice, “do not circulate”. “The object is not met. We set very clear rules as regards re-financing and the withdrawal of funds and, if these rules are violated, we have to decide up to which stage the project is pursued,” the European Affairs Minister explained, adding that, under such circumstances, a time will come when the state must decide to withdraw re-financing. “There is the risk of withdrawing funds unless good, priority-based decisions are made,” he added.
Leonard Orban also argued that the present legislative frame should be modified and adapted to the new requirements, to ensure as much European money as possible is put to use. The official further underlined that the spending of EU funds would depend on following particular procedures, called “particular conditions”, invoking the example of healthcare, where the situation is disastrous, as well as macroeconomic conditions, reminding in this context the budget deficit target of maximum 3 pc and the public debt maximum threshold of 60 pc. Unless these conditions are met, Romania’s chances of being allotted additional funds are very slim, and this is virtually our last train, Orban argued.
In turn, the Polish Ambassador in Bucharest Marek Szczygiel referred on this occasion to his country’s experience in the social consultation process concerning plans for the European Social Fund, as well as to support lent to the Roma Community within the Human Resources Operational Programme.
Ionut Sibian, executive chairman of the Foundation for Civil Society Development, also addressed participants in the conference, voicing his backing for a very important aspect, also mentioned by Philippe Hatt, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, head of the Romania, Bulgaria and Malta Unit, in his speech, namely the need to limit eligibility conditions to facilitate NGOs’ access to funding.