Romania is the first country Phil Hogan (photo L) officially visits in the capacity of European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Suindprod Radic pig farm in Arges County was the first facility Hogan, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu, Minister of Agriculture Daniel Constantin (photo R) and Minister of European Funds Eugen Teodorovici toured together on Thursday.
The visit to Romania is my first trip to a member state as European Commissioner for Agriculture. I decided that this should be my first pick for an official visit because I want to continue what my predecessor, Commissioner Dacian Ciolos has started, as he contributed for five years to developing the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and did a very good job in a very difficult period, Commissioner Phil Hogan said on Thursday in Ratesti – Arges County, the site of the farm set up with European funds.
According to Agerpres, Hogan explained that the integrated pig breeding and processing project carried out with European funds has created over 260 jobs, contributing to the development of economic activities in the area.
This is a fantastic integrated project that helped create over 260 jobs in production and processing and which represents an important investment for the rural community. It is gratifying to see how the Common Agricultural Policy can help in this area where we are now. Last year Romania’s exports of agricultural goods prevailed over its agri goods imports, and agriculture and rural development can make a higher contribution to Romanian exports, but also create new jobs, Hogan explained.
The European official stressed that the ambition he holds together with Commissioner Corina Cretu is to maximize the potential of EU rural areas, of Romanian villages in particular.
This area has 20 billion euros earmarked for the next seven years through our European programs. Together with Commissioner Cretu and the Romanian Government, we will have an integrated approach of the development of EU villages and Romania, whether we speak of broadband or rural infrastructure, Hogan added.
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan is paying an official visit to Romania over March 12 – 13, 2015, with his agenda including meetings with Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Minister of Agriculture Daniel Constantin, as well as with the members of the joint Committees on agriculture and European Affairs of the Romanian Parliament.
Phil Hogan visited on Thursday two projects financed with European funds, specifically the Suinprod Radic pig farm in Ratesti – Arges County, and a mixed fodder plant.
On Friday, Commissioner Hogan attends the conference titled “Combating poverty and social exclusion in rural Romania. Contribution of the 2014 – 2020 National Rural Development Programme,” organized by the European Commission’s Representation, Agerpres reports.
EU Commissioner Cretu: We’ll never forget or abandon Romanian vilages
We will never forget or abandon the Romanian village, but on the contrary, we will handle it with special attention because it is essentially different from the villages of the old EU member countries, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu said while on a visit to Ratesti – Arges County, at a pig farm set up with European funds.
“Holding the portfolio of Agriculture was highly important for Romania and for this reason I wanted to assure the Government of Romania and the Romanian citizens, that together with [Agriculture and Rural Development] Commissioner Hogan, we will never forget or abandon the Romanian village. Romania has a specific situation and I told Commissioner [Hogan] that the village he came to visit is typical for Romania, in that it is essentially different from German or French villages, or villages in any of the old EU member states. No less than 45 percent of Romania’s population lives in rural areas, which also account for over 80 percent of the country’s inhabited land and for this reason, together, we must handle them with special attention through an integrated development of the villages,” said Cretu.
She added that the only approach to the integrated development of Romanian villages is through joint efforts and resources, and that this can also make a contribution to the economic development of the region.
The European Commissioner for Regional Policy pointed to the increasing risk that youth leave rural areas because of the unequal chances to education and quality services there compared to urban areas.
“I am very concerned about the threat looming over certain EU development areas located around large urban areas, including in new member states. The danger is that the young quit the rural areas, leaving there exclusively an adult population. We must find ways to encourage youth to build a location-adjusted business, build a life, and we, the Commission will do everything in our power to cooperate on this. We are the Commissioners with the largest budget, and I want us to have a new approach to the development of villages. I think this is not just about the welfare of rural areas, but also about providing equal opportunities to education and to quality services and, from this standpoint, the European Commission and the Governments have this joint duty to provide equal opportunities to the European citizens, whether they live in villages or in cities,” said Corina Cretu.
PM Ponta hopes Romania will receive in shortest time final EC approval on NRDP
Prime Minister Victor Ponta, on Friday, during the meeting with European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, expressed hope that Romania will receive “in shortest time possible” the final approval of the European Commission on the 2014-2020 National Rural Development Programme (NRDP), requesting the Commissioner’s support in this sense.
“The starting of this Program is stringent, given the need for investments and ensuring an increase in competitivity in the sector, given the context of an extremely exigent competitive market globally”, a release remitted on Friday by the Press Bureau of the Government informs.
According to the quoted source, Prime Minister Victor Ponta received, on Friday, at the Government House, the visit of European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan, who is on his first official visit to Romania.
“The head of the Government presented the situation of the absorption of European funds for agriculture and rural development, almost 90 per cent of the allotments being spent, both for direct payments, as well as investments. The agri-food is one that has performed well in European funds absorption, and the effects of this capital infusion are beginning to show”, the release remitted to Agerpres after the meeting also shows.
The mentioned source adds that during the meeting the Romanian Prime Minister “showed concern for the effects of the Russian embargo on the agri-food sector of the Republic of Moldova and reiterated the need to continue to search for concrete solutions that would support the producers of this country”.
Constantin: Romania to receive letter of conformity from EC for launching its NRDP 2014-2020 by mid-April
Romania in mid-April will receive the letter of conformity from the European Commission, so as to be able to launch its National Rural Development Programme (NRDP) 2014-2020, following by early May the authorities to launch all the measures comprised in the programme, Minister of Agriculture, Daniel Constantin, said on Friday, at the end of the meeting with the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan.
“We discussed about the calendar of approval of the new programme and the novelty is that, within two weeks at the most, by mid-April, Romania will receive the letter of conformity that certifies negotiations are complete and elements were agreed by both parties. If we are going to have the letter of conformity indeed by mid-April, then we can launch the guides corresponding to all the measures and we won’t have to wait for the final agreement of the complete programme to do that. I believe that, in end April – early May, we will be able to launch them all, with the order in which we are going to be, of course, decided after the analysis of the monitoring committee that includes all the social partners. I know that the expectations are great for all the measures, but we will try to cope with all of those expectations,” said Constantin.
The Minister of Agriculture announced that the first projects are already expected to come on March 25 under the two measures where the negotiations with the European Commission are already completed, investments in farms and the young farmers related measures respectively.
“We have announced the Commissioner that Romania decided on March 25 to receive the first projects under these two measures we already completed negotiations with the European Commission for. We have thus the verbal approval of the Commission. It is about the measure that has to do with the investments in farms and the other that has to do with the young farmers,” added the head of the MADR [Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development].
When asked about the causes behind the delays in the approval of the NRDP 2014-2020 for Romania, Phil Hogan said that many other states, including his own country, were in the same situation.
“There were very many national programmes that we received at the same time and needed approval, but only 10 states have received the approvals so far. The member states also received comments and in their turn they asked for clarifications of certain aspects. However, the money for the programme won’t be lost for any of them, since the EC regulations specify that, if the states don’t receive their approval by December, then the money will be saved for next year and they won’t be lost. Moreover, there are very many consultations that need to be done with the Environment DG [Directorate General – e.n.], the Climate Changes DG, the Regional Development DG and also other financial aspects that need to be checked in order to make sure the money are spent correctly. So that there are many states, including my own country, Ireland, which are in the same situation as Romania,” said Phil Hogan.
The amount that Romania will have at her disposal for the NRDP 2014-2020 is 9.363 billion euros, 8.015 billion euros of which are European funds allotted to Romania and 1.347 billion euros represent the national contribution.