BUSINESS

EC: We do not approve operational programmes without relevant progress by Romania

The European Commission will not approve the operational programmes on transportation if the Government of Romania does not make clear and relevant progress in the process of drafting the Transportation Masterplan, Shirin Wheeler, spokeswoman for Johannes Hahn, European commissioner for regional policy, said for HotNews.
“We would not block the payment of European funds from disproportionate motives, but in this case the Masterplan is an essential condition for long-lasting European investments, with the maximum possible impact, strategically concentrated,” she added. The European executive has not received to date a draft Masterplan from the Romanian government, Shirin Wheeler added.
“We have not received a Masterplan for transportation from the Romanian government, but ultimately Romanian authorities are those entitled to having the document, it is their document which covers the entire transportation strategy of Romania, which does not pertain only to European funds. Romanian authorities are actually those who need this document,” the European official affirmed.
“But we want to make sure that the document will exist,” she added. Wheeler mentioned that the European executive will stop the EU transportation funds for Romania if the government will not have a Masterplan in this sector until 2016 at latest. “Our rules say that the Masterplan should be adopted in totality by Romania until 2016, at latest. If not, the European Commission will stop the payments. But our objective is that the Masterplan is adopted in 2014,” added the spokeswoman of European commissioner Johannes Hahn.
The Ministry of Transportation is drafting the Masterplan for transportation with support from a private specialised consultant, but the European Commission wants the document to be assumed by Romania at the level of the entire government. According to the Ministry of European Funds, the future Operational Programme Big Infrastructure, which will also include the money for the transportation sector, will be made available approximately EUR 9 bln by the European Commission during the programming interval 2014-2020. The Regional Operational Programme, which also includes components of transport infrastructure, will receive over EUR 6 bln.
The Ministry of European Funds (MFE) published last week a new version of the second draft of the Agreement of Partnership (AP) for European funds 2014-2020. The Minister of European Funds Eugen Teodorovici said Friday at the conference “Mediafax Talks about European Funds” that Romania will officially send the AP this week and the EC has three months to approve it, and modifications can be made during this interval. The minister admitted that there still are “some matters” to arrange.
“After we formally send the AP, there will be a formal, official dialogue with the EC on this programming document,” Teodorovici added, emphasising that other member states, “many of which have been praised as champions of absorption,” received “dozens of pages of observations.”
The MFE will also make more checks on POSDRU, especially in the zone of acquisitions, minister Teodorovici mentioned, adding that authorities will harshly punish those who bought automobiles and dwellings with EU funds. “If we do not want to change the system, we cannot hope that things will improve in 2014 and in the next years,” the minister warned.
Vasilescu, BNR: EUR 10.9 bln more than what Romania has contributed
Romania received from the European Union (EU), during 2007-2013, funds worth EUR 21.3 bln and paid to the EU a sum of EUR 10.6 bln, which gives a positive balance of EUR 10.9 bln, Adrian Vasilescu, counsellor to the governor of the National Bank of Romania (BNR), announced during the event. He explained that 2013 was the best year in terms of inflows of European funds, with a total of EUR 5.6 bln, of which EUR 2.9 bln were current transfers and EUR 2.6 bln were capital transfers. The BNR official added that values increased from 2007 until 2013, with 2007 being the only year when a negative balance was registered with regard to European funds. He explained that, besides receiving funds, Romania also has as advantage in the relation with the EU its commerce, of which more than 70 pc is achieved with the EU. Vasilescu also warned that the main fault in the effort of attracting European funds is the poor and unclear communication, so many aspects are still little known by the public. Vasilescu said that banks were not enthusiastically involved in the process of attracting European funds, but admitted that some credit institutions nevertheless set up specialised departments that provide consultancy “not 100 pc correct, but largely correct.”
Unicredit: Romania can absorb most EU funds in 2014
Romania could absorb European funds worth EUR 6 bln this year, more than in all the previous years, thus reaching an absorption rate of about 60 pc, respectively 80 pc in 2015, said Marius Radu, EU Funds coordinator with UniCredit Tiriac Bank. He explained that there is much difference between contracting and absorbing funds. If contracting increased rapidly and reached 65 pc and 77 pc respectively in 2011-2012, the absorption rate took off slowly, with 5.6 pc and 11.5 pc respectively.

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