EC criticizes the documentation for the EU budget 2014-2020. The Ministry for European Funds says the report was referring to January.
The issues that led to a very poor absorption rate of European funds in the financial exercise 2007-2013 risk being repeated in the 2014-2020 exercise too, considering the talks in the preliminary negotiations for Romania’s Partnership Agreement with the European Commission for the future structural funds, reveals a letter sent by Brussels to the Romanian government, quoted by cursdeguvernare.ro”(…) The proposal issued by Romanian government does not meet yet the minimum quality and credibility conditions to allow an effective informal dialogue on the future programming documents”, reads the letter sent by the EC to the Ministry of European Funds (MFE) of Bucharest, on 7 March 2013. On January 31, 2013, MFE officials had an informal meeting with EC representatives, and the Romanian side presented a “negotiation box.”According to government sources, on that occasion the minister of European Funds, Eugen Teodorovici submitted to the EC a list of European projects that each ministry considers as sectorial priorities. According to officials in Brussels, MFE should have come with an overview of the strategic directions regarding the priorities of development which Romania has as EU member, defined in accordance to the results of socio-economic analyses. Jean-Marie Sayler, General Director, DG “Regional Policy” ended the talks and sent the Romanian officials back to the drawing board.On February 19, MFE returned with a new set of documents in order to negotiate the Partnership Agreement.
According to sources close to the negotiations, quoted by cursdeguvernare.ro, the Romanian authorities persisted in sending to Brussels lists of projects, instead of the strategic guidelines demanded by the Commission. Plus, the MFE documentation was not based on the socio-economic analysis of Romania’s development priorities, which would have served later to submitting projects, as the EC requested.
MFE availed of a set of socio-economic analyses completed in a 50 pc proportion, but the studies were made in 2012 by the former Ministry of European Affairs, and they were ignored by the new ministry in the Ponta government.“During this meeting (our note January 31st, informal dialogue), all ministries had raised their own sectoral needs, without being supported by a strategic vision, nor being sufficiently and consistently streamlined and coordinated. Unfortunately, the contribution received on 19 February steel largely corroborates this first analysis. It entails a list of sectoral needs, addressed to the Commission services, without the needed preliminary arbitration, against an overarching development strategic vision. It is also assumed that the financing needs underlying the proposed list of priorities by far exceed the actual available budgetary allocation, presumed so far in the light of the conclusion of the recent European Council,” said Normunds Popens, Deputy Director General for Policy, Performance and Compliance in the Directorate-General Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) of EC in the official letter.One day before receiving the letter from Brussels, minister Teodorovici passed in the Cabinet meeting of March 6 a note urging ministries to finalise the lists with financing priorities, in their respective sectors. MFE planned to discuss these matters in the first 2-day theme meeting with EC services, on March 19-21, but “the dialogue on the horizontal and management issues, such as the programming architecture, would be at this stage immature and inappropriate and could then take place in the next round of meetings, scheduled in April.
The agenda of this second round will be finalized upon the conclusions of the first set of meeting, with regard to the remaining pending issues to be tackled”. Minister Eugen Teodorovici explains, in an interview granted to Euractiv last Thursday, that the round of talks with the departments of the EC will take place this week. Around April 17-18, the minister also had talks with EC officials about the future institutional architecture and was expected to send a project with this regard. Referring to the socio-economic analyses demanded by the EC, the minister said that “part of them are finalised, some are still being worked upon, because they are modified as the EC requests new elements and details,” minister Teodorovici mentioned. Previously, on 10 March 2013, the government passed a memorandum on the future operational programmes, announcing that in the next 2014-2020 financial framework the MFE will manage the European funds which are currently administered by 5 ministries, while the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration will keep the two operational programmes it has now: regional and administrative.
When the administrative mechanisms of regions will be formed, they will take over the regional programme. Officially, in the negotiation roadmap, MFE plans to transmit the Accord of Partnership with the European Commission early in November 2013, so it can be approved by the EC in January 2014.
MFE: Observations refer to January situation
MFE says in a press release issued that the EC letter contained a series of observations on the situation presented to the Commission in January and that, in the meantime, Romania has made progress with the preparations. ‘Romania has taken into consideration the recommendations of the EC experts and, during the first round of informal talks between Romania and the Commission, in March 19-21 this year, and the progress achieved in the programming process has been appreciated by the representatives of the Commission. We stress that many of the details were agreed on by the two parties during that meeting. (…) Starting with April, focus groups will be organised to validate the results of social and economic analyses as they were prepared based on statistical data and studies available by that date. Based on those analyses we will develop strategies in Romania (…). An informal dialogue between the representatives of Romanian authorities and European Commission officials takes place at the moment,’ states the release. The next meeting of the parties, under the timetable of the preparations, is taking place on Friday, April 26, with debates on the financial allocation per operational programme, thematic objectives based on initial estimations of financing needs, considering allocations pre-established by regulations.
Confusions regarding the Ponta government – the Ungureanu government
PDL president Vasile Blaga spoke Monday about the criticism addressed by the EC to the Romanian government, but initially referred to the Ungureanu Cabinet, but then corrected himself and mentioned that he was actually meaning the Ponta Cabinet. “Just today, the written press unveiled a letter sent by the European Commission on March 7 in which the Commission sanctions the Ungureanu government because its vision of the absorption of European funds during 2010-2020 is unrealistic, they say. It is more than unrealistic; it lacks quality and takes into account no strategy which Romania has, one way or another, in the absorption of European funds… The Ponta government, of course,” Blaga said.
European commissioner Laszlo Andor: The risk of losing European money this year was not completely eliminated
The risk of losing European money this year was not completely eliminated, although the government of Romania took several measures for improving the absorption of European funds, recommending the implementation of measures that will reduce the risk of disengament, the European commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Laszlo Andor warned during an official visit to Bucharest. He met PM Victor Ponta, the minister of European Funds – Eugen Teodorovici, the ministers of Labour – Mariana Campeanu, Education – Remus Pricopie and Research – Mihnea Cosmin Costoiu, in order to analyse the absorption of European funds in the 2007-2013 interval, and also to prepare the programming period 2014 – 2020. European commissioner Laszlo Andor said that Romania was confronted by several problems in accessing European funds these years, as the absorption rate was under 20 pc, “very low.” “I asked Romanian authorities to step up the implementation of the programme, in view of minimising the risks of disengagement, but they must do this at a high standard of quality in selecting and verifying the projects,” Andor mentioned.