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March 27, 2023

EC pre-suspends three operational programmes worth EUR 10.4 bln

The decision is a consequence of serious issues in the management and control system of the programmes, found by Brussels officials. Romanian authorities have two months to deal with these problems.

The European Commission (EC) yesterday notified to Romanian authorities the decision to pre-suspend most of three programmes co-financed with EU structural funds, reads a press release. The decision is the consequence of serious issues in the management and control system of the ‘Transport’, ‘Regional’ and ‘Increase of economic competitiveness’ programmes, with regard to public acquisitions, good financial management and the detection and prevention of frauds and conflicting interests. The funds that will be withdrawn are as follows: Transport – EUR 4.4 bln, Increase of Economic Competitiveness – EUR 2.5 bln and the Regional Operational Programme (POR) – EUR 3.5 bln. Moreover, Romania will have to partly repay even the few funds it drew from the EU – just EUR 1.8 bln, out of a total EUR 19.6 bln made available for the financial exercise 2007 – 2013, zf.ro reports.The decision follows a thorough analysis and means that no payments will be made until measures are adopted in view of solving these problems. The claims will be repaid as soon as Romanian authorities conduct the due actions, adds the document. According to experts quoted by realitatea.net, the financing pre-suspension procedure is the last step before suspending the operational programmes.Before receiving the formal notification, Premier Victor Ponta said during a visit to Carei that he knows what “steps” are to be made in the case of the pre-suspension of European programmes, and there is the possibility that the money lost in these programmes “are reallocated in Romania’s envelope for successful programmes.”The government will have two-three months to enforce the recommendations of the Commission, otherwise the programmes will be suspended for as long as a year and even more. If this happens, there will no longer be enough time to spend the money, so it might be lost.

Furthermore, in view of protecting the EU budget, financial corrections have been proposed for these three programmes and for the programme on ‘Environment.’ They could cover between 10 and 25 pc of payments, but these sums should not be lost, the EC considers. If Romania accepts the corrections, the money could be used for other – correctly implemented – projects within the same programme. The measures adopted Thursday belong to a regulated procedure meant to protect the financial interests of the EU and the use of taxpayers’ money. The Commission uses the same norms and standards for all member states.

EC demands urgent measures

“The Commission demands Romanian authorities to urgently take measures with this regard, because EU funds represent the main investment source in Romania, hence an essential growth factor. The country needs these funds and the Commission wants to resume payments as soon as possible. Romanian authorities must now demonstrate that the management and control systems are operational. Urgent actions are essential now,” reads the press release. For almost three years, the Commission was in permanent dialogue with Romanian authorities on increasing the capacity to absorb EU funds, adds the document made public yesterday. Problems have been identified and solutions have been requested in order to avoid losing the EU money.” (…) These measures are no surprise, as there was a constant dialogue between Romanian authorities and the Commission on the necessary measures. This should lead to conclusions resulting from the experience of the present period. It is vital that the new management and control system in Romania tackles the current deficiencies and produces results on projects that comply with legal regulations and are viable from an economic point of view, answering the challenges experienced by Romania,” adds the release. The EC proposals for 2014-2020 start from the idea that the investment instruments of the EU answer the investment needs in the field and that enough resources are available to enact the structural reforms necessary in view of meeting the long-term objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy.



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