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November 27, 2021

PM Ponta hopes 2014-2020 EU budget funds – last ones wronged

The head of government considers the President was a poor negotiator for EU funds.

“President Traian Basescu was a very poor negotiator in the discussions on setting the maximum amount of European funds to be allotted to Romania because he did not want to step on anyone’s toes, and he agreed to a very small amount because he was not interested in what would happen after his term ended, in the 2014-2020 period,” PM Victor Ponta said in a new round of attack against the President, after taking part in the ‘2014-2020 European Funds’ conference on Tuesday.
“It is too late; the situation can no longer be remedied,” Ponta added.
The sum allocated by the European Union to Romania in this budget period means ‘very little money’, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said. He voiced his hope that the 2014 – 2020 European budget is the last one when Romania is ‘disfavoured at European level.’
‘Let’s be prepared to use the money, but without making illusions on how much of it Romania has in 2014 through 2020. It has very little, EUR 21 billion in seven years, using simple math give EUR 3 billion [per year]. Think of Romania’s needs in all areas. I hope this is the last time when Romania is disfavored at European level,’ the prime minister said at a debate on European funds.
He mentioned, however, that his assertion is not a reproach, which would be useless now; it is ‘a warning’ that not all Romania’s problems can be solved with the European funds allocated for 2014 – 2020. On the other hand, Ponta provided examples of states that got larger allocations per capita. He named the Czech Republic, with 20 billion euros for 10 million inhabitants, Hungary with 20 billion euros for a population as little as half Romania’s, Portugal – 19.6 billion for a population also two times smaller, and Croatia, that entered the EU later than Romania, yet has the double sum per capita.
Largest portion of funds allotted to infrastructure
Ponta said EUR 5.7 billion was allotted to road, railway, water, and air transport infrastructure through the 2014-2020 Partnership Agreement that will be approved today by the Government. He explained this money cannot solve all infrastructure-related problems. He further showed that EUR 3 billion was allocated for the environment sector, while the Environment Ministry had asked for EUR 14 billion ‘as absolute priorities and needs.’
To create jobs and develop the National Agency for Employment, EUR 1.2 billion have been allocated according to Ponta; the social assistance to disadvantaged groups and the Roma people integration programmes got EUR 1 billion.
Ponta also declared that in the education area EUR 1 billion have been earmarked for teachers’ training. Approximately EUR 800 million have been directed to the local administrative capability and to the technical assistance, and an equal sum will go to the SMEs and the technology parks.
According to the prime minister, other target chapters of European funds between 2014 and 2020 include urban development, plus the historical and cultural areas, and tourism (approximately EUR 3 billion); county roads (EUR 1 billion); research (EUR 700 million); rural land register (EUR 300 million); IT (EUR 500 million).
In this respect, the Prime Minister noted the European Commission must not “love” the IT sector as much as they claim, since allotment proposals have constantly been cut.
A number of mayors who attended the event brought several objections to the Prime Minister’s attention related to European funded projects being delayed by numerous complaints. Ponta agreed that these complaints have an “invariable” circuit. He went on to say the European Commission rejected the proposals to amend the public bid challenge procedure and the tax for filing complaints with the National Council for Solving Complaints (CNSC), adding there is no alternative to the current system at the moment. According to Ponta, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) may offer local authorities co-financing loans for EU funded projects, which would allow them to carry on without having to resort to commercial banks that do not give out such loans easily.

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