The European Affairs Ministry aims to hiking co-funding rate by 10 pc.
Agriculture, regional development and transports will be the fields which will absorb the largest share of EU funds in 2012, European Affairs Minister Leonard Orban stated yesterday during a press conference in which he reviewed the ministry’s activity since its founding in September. The minister further stated the first two sectors had also reported the highest absorption rate this year.
When asked to name the main problems Romania was currently facing in the absorption of structural funds, Orban argued there were quite a lot of problems to tackle. “These include, first and foremost, an insufficient administrative capacity, secondly, a limited institutional framework and, thirdly, a lot of problems arising from excessive bureaucracy. This doesn’t have to do with large-scale corruption in this field, but above all with some people’s fear of making decisions,” he explained.
During the conference, the minister also presented some of the European Affairs Ministry’s short-term targets, particularly the unblocking of reimbursement applications for all sectors and the introduction of harsher rules to accede to funding, mentioning he envisaged to set up a work group for this segment. “The main target, that of unblocking reimbursement applications for the Priority Axis 2, was accepted by the European Commission and, we hope, will be accepted shortly for all other operational programmes which have been stalled. As soon as payments were unblocked, we received reimbursement applications for EUR 43 M, which the EC approved in turn. At the same time, we have reimbursement applications for approx. EUR 470 M for all other axes and we hope the money will be allotted before the end of the year. I should explain that the final sum will be forwarded after the figures have been analyzed by the Audit Authority,” the minister added. At the same time, EUR 360 M will be allotted to the thermal rehabilitation of blocks of flats, and EUR 80 will go to infrastructure projects, adding up to a total EUR 440 M.
Another target is boosting the administrative capacity, so that the ministry envisages an agreement with the WB, ECB and EIB to supply the necessary expertise. On the other hand, the ministry also aims at boosting the co-funding rate by 10 pc. “We estimate that by this move we will bring an extra EUR 150-180 M as co-financing funds,” Orban further stated.
The sensitive issue of Romania’s Schengen accession was also addressed, as Leonard Orban voiced his hope The Netherlands would unblock the process as soon as possible. The minister added that Romania was not the only state frustrated by this, pointing to Poland, which also has trouble in making sense of the situation.