European Commissioner for Regional Policy on Monday voiced hope that Romania’s future parliament ensuing from the December 11 election will bring national legislation in line with the European one, underscoring that because of a new urban agenda of the EU, the relevant policy at European, national and local levels will improve so as to generate actual benefits for the citizens.
Addressing a conference called ”My City in Our Europe,” Cretu mentioned the urban agenda of the European Union recently adopted by the European institutions, the urban dimension of the EU’s cohesion policy and urban development in Romania linked to the cohesion policy.
“The urban agenda focuses on three areas where we should act. Firstly, better regulation, which means more efficient and more consistent regulations in the legislation in force. From such point of view (…) my hope is that the ensuing parliament will be able to bring the national legislation in line with the European one to, first of all, make life easier for beneficiaries. And I mean here better financing, easier access to European funds because, as you may know, one week ago the European Commission submitted to the European Parliament and the European Council changes in the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework. We suggested some technical change that can have a major political impact because it is about transparency and getting much easier access to European funds. (…) Yet, I would like to underscore that this process of simplification can only be implemented if our efforts go hand in hand with national and local actions,” said Cretu.
She added that the regulations for the use of European funds alone are 600 pages long, and that is why local or national administrations should not added any more rules.
“I have seen, even in Romania, projects that require 30,50, 70 signatures, some talk about tons of papers signed. You should know that that is not a requirement from the European Commission, but national regulations pure and simple. The simplifications surely come with additional responsibilities for the member state attached for proper audit and more oversight, of a better quality as far as the use of European funds goes. Hopefully, these changes will contribute toward improving funding sources for urban development areas. As far as better knowledge is concerned, that will help the development of a knowledge base regarding urban aspects and exchanges of good practices. We have to do our job and maximise what we have now, the European funds. You know what the environment is in Brussels; this could unfortunately be our last historical chance of having so much funds focused for the 2014- 2020,” said Cretu.
The European commissioner for regional policy mentioned that Bucharest is the city where she was born and raised, saying that the locals have suffered a lot because they did not get to use European funds.
European Commissioner Cretu says commission expecting excellent feasibility study from Bucharest City
The European Commission is expecting Bucharest City to come up with a very good feasibility study, given that the city, besides a budget of one billion euros, has 2.3 billion euros in European funds, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu added.
She added that investment conducted on European funds in Bucharest are carried out under operational programme large infrastructure and operational programme regional development and such funds will pay for the next 500 km of the district heating system in the form of guarantees from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
“The district heating system can be funded under operational programme large infrastructure. There is already a 100-million-euro budget from the regional development fund for 500 km of the sewage network. My colleagues from DG Regio are this week at the European Investment Bank and we wait to see to what extent the next 500 km of sewage can be financed in the form of EIB guarantees, precisely because I am aware of the poor quality of drinking water in Romania and the risk of heating being halted. All that we are asking in return is for an excellent feasibility report. Under this programme, waste management, district heating, underground public transit are envisaged, for which 2 billion euros are earmarked in investment,” Cretu told ”My City in Our Europe” Conference held in Bucharest on Monday.
Cretu added that 336 million euros under operational programme regional development are earmarked for Bucharest City to retrofit its residential buildings, improve public lighting, keep up its cultural heritage and modernise its roads.
Cities to have responsibility of EU funds’ management system for the first time
The European Commission is developing an urban portal to collect all information regarding the urban dimension of the EU policies, next to financing instruments, and this means that for the first time the cities will have a role and the responsibility in the EU funds’ management system, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Cretu, said on Monday.
“We, at the European Commission, develop an urban portal that will gather all information on the urban dimension of the European Union’s policies and the financing tools. An important difference to the past is focused at the obligation of the Member States to allocate a minimum 5pct of the national budget of the EU fund for regional development to the integrated urban development. For the first time, cities have an important part in using this amount of money. (…) That is why I think that the cities should put in the same basket all of their resources – business persons, academic world, local public administration – in order to have a long term strategy and prioritize the resources they’ve got in the next period,” said Cretu at the ‘My City in Our Europe’ Conference.
According to the EU commissioner, this is not only aiming at financing the projects and the procedures’ enforcement, but the fact that all investments should be approached so that the cities draft an integrated strategy of sustainable urban development to show the challenges and opportunities they have, based on public-private partnerships.
As for the urban dimension of the cohesion policy of Romania, the European commissioner for regional policy congratulated Romania for it has chosen to allocated rd 1.2 bln Euros for the sustainable urban development, funds directly administrated by 39 County Capital cities.
“We should not make the mistake to feel comfortable with only a simply administrative exercise just for the sake of drawing the European funds. I said it before – I prefer quality to quantity. (…) My wish is not only to spend the money, I wish that the cities all around the EU to develop in harmonious, sustainable way, to offer as many development opportunities to their inhabitants,” Corina Cretu concluded.