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Facebook polemics between the European Commissioner Corina Cretu and Minister Cristian Ghinea on the EU funds absorption

The polemic between the European Commissioner Corina Cretu and Cristan Ghinea, minister in the Ciolos Government, on the rate of the EU funds absorption performed by Romania continued where it started, namely on Facebook, after the Commissioner posted on Tuesday an assertion that “until this moment, Romania has a 0 percent absorption rate of the EU funds from the budget period 2104-2020, but I know that Romanian authorities make serious efforts to this end”.

In reply, EU Funds Minister Cristian Ghinea posted on Wednesday on Facebook a situation of the EU funds absorption at the EU level, available for the 2014-2020 period. He draws attention to the European Commissioner for Development Corina Cretu that the absorption average is very low at the European level, not only in Romania. Corina Cretu commented to this post and the dialogue of the two officials continued in the footnote of the post; Cretu mentioned that she is interested for Romania not to miss EU funds.

Cristian Ghinea posted several tables from which we may conclude that there are also other countries with almost zero absorption rates and the important thing is to design projects that will bring money in the years to come.

 

 “What does inform the European Commission and what does inform Mrs. Corina Cretu’s Facebook?

 

The figures sent by EU Commission in May, in the report to the EU Parliament and to the EU Council.

In May 2016, the implementation of the programs financed by the Structural and Investment European Funds allotted to the Member States in the 2014-2020 period registered an absorption level of 1.7 percent.

See the attached report and a summary.

Note: The analysis refers to the programs corresponding to the cohesion policy, common agricultural policy, maritime and fisheries policy and the European aid fund for the most disadvantaged people.

So, the official absorption rates dated May 31, in the Commission’s report were (selected countries, see the entire list in the attached photo):

Bulgaria: 0.07%

Cyprus: 0.23%

Spain: 1.87%

Hungary: 0% (zero)

Italy: 0.39%

Poland: 0.87%

Romania: 0.18%.

Since May until today, other payment applications were sent by Romania (and by the other states, of course).

Therefore, the Commission reports these figures through official letters to the other EU institutions (see photo).

Mrs. Corina Cretu’s Facebook says it’s zero, but she congratulates us for the constructive dialogue and for the joint efforts (which really exist with the technical services of the Commission, I confirm that).

Too bad that Mrs. Cretu’s Facebook preferentially selects the figures.

I expect Mrs. Cretu’s Facebook to express similar concerns also for the other countries in the table.

Seriously speaking, I repeat what I stated so many times: the absorption rate is now 1.7 percent in the entire EU.

The absorption rate in 2014-2020 is an irrelevant indicator now, at the beginning of the budgetary period, before assigning the whole management system (and you can see there are assigning problems in many countries – compare the column with the number of Programs with the column with the number of assigned authorities).

This does not excuse Ponta Government for not moving a finger on this matter, Romania is worse than the European average, but we are gaining ground – Mrs. Cretu’s Facebook wasn’t concerned at the right moment.

When the entire EU is at 1.7 percent of absorption for 2014-2020, and there are countries with zero absorption, and the most of them have 1 percent of absorption, what’s relevant is to talk about launches and project preparations.

And I have launched guides in amount of EUR 12 billion in 97 days since I am a minister.

About the absorption at the end of the 2007-2013 Programs:

EUR 2 billion have entered in the country under this Government until now; EUR 3.6 billion are estimated for the whole year 2016 (according to the famous memorandum adopted last week).

Is it alarming?” Cristian Ghinea wrote on Facebook.

 

European Commissioner Corina Cretu’s comment

 

European Commissioner Corina Cretu had a reply right under Cristian Ghinea’s post, mentioning that she’s interested for Romania not to miss EU funds.

 

“Dear Minister,

I would like to make some mentions. Since you were appointed in this position, we’ve met several times and I appreciated your concern, assuring you that you will have my entire support and all my services. You know well that in the last year I completely restructured the Unit for Romania, where I transferred the best DG Regio specialist, having more than 60 meetings with the Romanian authorities.

I believe that the absorption rate for 2007-2014, which reached 85 percent, is the result of these joint efforts, made both by the Romanian authorities and the Commission.

Since the Ponta Government was governing, I underlined that the year of 2016 is crucial for the regional policy, because besides the successful ending of the previous financial cycle, we need to start implement new projects, in order to maximize the impact of this historical opportunity that we have through EU funds. We have agreed that there are delays, that there are not enough mature projects, we have talked about the dramatic situation especially in the waste and infrastructure areas. We have appreciated together that the 3 regional hospitals must be urgently started, but to this end we are still waiting for the sanitary needs map.

The figures I presented refer to the Funds I am in charge with, namely The Development Fund and The Cohesion Fund.

Absorption, in the Commission’s view, means paid invoices for performed works. You publish documents from the Commission indicating the advances to the Member States, which are granted at the beginning of each budget period.

I assure you all that I want is for Romania not to lose money, I wish for us not to be forced to suspend funds – for instance, the term for the ex ante conditionalities is 2016.

It would be very simple for me to stay away, but as we analyze the situation in all the Member States, I do it also for Romania.

I am truly sorry that you don’t really believe that you have and will always have a partner in me, although I answered to all the requests coming from the Romanian authorities (establishing steps, retrospective projects, etc.). I wish you all the best and I hope to succeed together to bring our contribution to the development of the country and to the improvement of the people’s lives.

 

Best regards,

Corina Cretu”

 

 

Cristian Ghinea’s reply

 

The Romanian EU Funds Minister Cristian Ghinea replied to Corina Cretu, mentioning that they had a good cooperation which should continue in the same way.

“Mrs. Cretu, I am glad that we can resume our direct dialogue, I confirm that we had a good cooperation at the technical level. My reaction comes exactly because you know what our efforts are and you appreciate them in our meetings. The figures I presented and reported by the Commission refer exactly to interim payments, and not to advances. I am sure we will continue to have a very good institutional cooperation, beyond the interpretation differences of the moment. I apologize if some of the reactions of the commenters of this page offended you; my intention was to have a public discussion on the concrete figures and this is a proper place for this thing. I wish you all the best and I am waiting to see you as soon as possible. Cristian Ghinea.”

 

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