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April 13, 2021

Carsten Rassmussen: Never before have I seen a country so resourceful, with such a petty outcome

The European Commission’s DG Regio’s Head of Unit for Romania, Carsten Rassmussen expressed his support, voicing optimism regarding a stepping up of the European funds’ absorption and a better management of these funds by the Government through strengthening cooperation with the local and regional authorities, but added that, from the figures’ point of view, Romania so far has a “long line of zeroes.”

Carsten Rassmussen participated on Monday, in the western city of Cluj-Napoca, in the “Regio Days”, an event organised by the North-West National Development Agency (ADRNV). For three days, a large delegation with the European Parliament will visit, alongside members of the European Commission and local authorities, projects achieved in Transylvania with EU funds.

They come to judge us and learn from us. I speak in the plural because if Romania is successful, the Commission is successful. If you fail, we also fail. We believe that things are good, but the figures we’ve got are in fact a long line of zeroes. (…) These data show, actually, how the management is doing. A few payments were made, but we have to be careful. What matters right now is to see how many projects you could sign, rd 8 pct at national level. 8 pct is way too scarce. You must place somewhere else. We have a EUR 958 million target to spend, and now the projects vary at about EUR 500 million. The challenge is to sign much more projects. Hope is that it could happen, but it will be rather difficult to attain those targets we want, Carsten Rassmussen said.

In his speech, Rassmussen said there is not much to show to the European Parliament, but declared himself confident in Romania’s chances of success to overcome this difficult moment. Rassmussen mentioned some of the problems he blames for this stalemate of Romania in its attempt to absorb the EU funds.

“Never before have I seen a country with so many talents, so many good technicians and in the end with such a petty outcome. This fall we’ll make it, we’ll have several projects, we’ll have several projects signed, we’ll pass through the implementation stage and will be more optimistic in the future. We have to work more at the implementation system. We have many rules that do not fit. This is what we call “gold plating”. The system must be simplified. Sometimes, the rules passed by the Parliament, by the Council, by the Commission are not easy to be enforced, but they do not compare with what the Romanian government does. Not just one, but the successive governments. Each government has added something. Some things should be canceled since they are not necessary. This actually means cooperation between government and local and regional authorities. Hopefully in then end we’ll let the people work, we have to trust each other”, Carsten Rassmussen said.

Also participated in the debate on Monday, organised at the Casino Urban Culture Centre in the Central Park of Cluj-Napoca, a building restored with EU funds, the managing director of ADRNV, Marcel Bolos, the mayor of Cluj-Napoca, Emil Boc, the head of the REGI Committee with the European Parliament, Lambert von Nistelrooij, as well as other members of the Commission or of the local authorities in Transylvania.

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