President Klaus Iohannis stressed on Wednesday that European funds must be used intelligently in the context of the epidemiological crisis.
“The current epidemiological crisis has shown us that the European Union, as a whole, but also we, each member country, must adapt as well as possible to the process of change we are going through, in order to become as competitive and efficient as possible. Hence, the financial resources we have at our disposal must be used intelligently, and this is precisely what Romania intends to do,” the president told a press conference held at the Cotroceni Palace.
The president held a meeting on Wednesday with Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, Deputy Prime Minister Raluca Turcan, Minister of Public Finance, Florin Citu, Minister of Economy, Energy and Business Environment Virgil Popescu, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communications Lucian Bode, Minister of European Funds Marcel Bolos, and Minister of Health Nelu Tataru, to analyze the state of preparation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.
President Iohannis recalled that Romania obtained at the European Council meeting in July approximately 80 billion euros of European funds for the next nine years, specifying that a significant part of these funds, over 30 billion euros, will be used to accelerate the economic recovery in the post-pandemic period under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.
“The funds I’m talking about, in addition to those that we will access through the Union’s multiannual budget for the period 2021-2027 are a historic opportunity for us to develop Romania, to build motorways, railways, to modernize energy and environmental infrastructure, to implement digitalisation programmes in the economy, in administration. There are funds that will allow major investment in education and health. All these projects will have tangible beneficial consequences for Romanians and will contribute significantly to increasing the quality of life of each of us,” he said.
The president said that during the meeting with the representatives of the Government 12 priority directions were established, namely: health; education; digitalisation and cyber-security; sustainable transport; combating climate change; environmental protection; energy; energy efficiency; urban mobility; business environment and entrepreneurship; research-innovation, as well as increasing resilience capacity under crisis conditions in the health care and food fields.
“When I say that I am confident that the current government will be able to get the money now made available by the EU, I rely on facts, not opinions. Attracting European funds, those that are now at our disposal, is already at a much better level than in previous governments. The figures speak for themselves. The amounts attracted by Romania from European funds in the last 12 months total 4.1 billion euros, plus direct payments in agriculture. That means that in a certain year the absorption rate has increased from 32 pct to 46 pct,” the president said.
Iohannis gave as examples of projects carried out the metro line Drumul Taberei – Eroilor and the railway connection North Station – Otopeni Airport. He also said that major transport projects, such as the Sibiu-Pitesti motorway, the Transylvania motorway, the Craiova-Pitesti express road, the Bucharest belt, were unlocked.
He stressed that another extremely important area where European funds are vital is health care.
“This year, the financing contracts for the regional hospitals in Craiova, Iasi and Cluj were concluded and the legal procedures for the public procurement contracts necessary for the implementation of the technical project were initiated. The total value of these projects is 1.6 billion euros, and the total hospital capacity that is being realized is over 2,500 beds,” the president said.
He also gave the example of the fact that this year there was the opening of a call for projects worth 235 million euros for the establishment and expansion of smart gas distribution networks.
EU countries, taking bold measures depending on evolution of pandemic, not expecting something from somewhere
President Klaus Iohannis affirmed on Wednesday with regard to the European Commission’s president call on EU states to take bold steps to “save lives”, that member states take such measures depending on the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and that none expect “something from somewhere”.
“We have found that Madame President [of the European Commission – ed.n,] is calling on us to find bold measures. These bold measures are the ones that each Member State takes according to the evolution of the pandemic. None of us are waiting and expecting something from somewhere. We are analyzing the data and taking the measures proposed by renowned experts in the field. It is however true that at European level we are trying to agree on these measures, in particular with border closures- openings, facilitation of freight transport, mutual aid between health systems,”, the head of state told a press conference at the Cotroceni Palace.
He said that in order to find the most effective and timely solutions, it was agreed at the last European Council that informal meetings be held in video-conferencing system in between these meetings.
“Such a meeting will take place precisely tomorrow evening and before that video-conference I will make a short statement for the world to understand why we see each other in between councils in video-conferencing system. Hence, precisely to try to agree on the measures that each member state can take,” said Iohannis.
Romania has handled pandemic well so far, current situation doesn’t portend lockdown
President Klaus Iohannis also said that Romania has so far handled the COVID-19 pandemic well and that the current situation does not call for quarantine or lockdown.
“We learn from the news bulletins that the pandemic is on the rise in Romania, but in reality things have been handled well in our country so far. Even the states you are talking about (Germany, France – ed. note) have a much higher number of cases per population than us, and regrettably, some European countries had to enforce drastic measures. We don’t want this, that is why I keep telling Romanians and the authorities that we must fight this pandemic efficiently, each of us by wearing mask, observing distancing and hygiene, the authorities by the measures imposed, and the health system with what we discussed just yesterday, by expanding capacities, for intensive care for instance, which is being achieved. The number of intensive care beds has doubled since the onset of the pandemic. For now, the situation does not portend quarantine or lockdown,” Iohannis told a news conference at the Cotroceni Palace.
The President admitted however that he is concerned about the number of intensive care patients and fatalities.
“Let me explain to you what we should and what we should’t read in these reports. Reporting data have large fluctuations from one day to another, the pandemic does not spread according to a mathematical pattern, it spreads through person-to-person contact, sometimes more and sometimes less, we hope for the better, provided that the enforced measures yield good results. On the other hand, we all know that the number of tests differs from one day to another and over weekends it is naturally smaller. This is another source of fluctuations. What worries me is the number of people admitted to intensive care and, unfortunately, the number of deaths. This is where we clearly have a challenge, as well as in the line of prevention that stands in our power – mask-wearing, distancing, but also in hospitals where people in serious condition are treated in intensive care,” said the head of the state.
“To those who don’t believe in this disease, I recommend to look what’s happening in the hospitals”
President Klaus Iohannis stated on Wednesday that it’s regrettable that there are persons who are not convinced by evidence that the novel coronavirus exists.
“People who don’t believe in anything or don’t believe in diseases or don’t believe in vaccines are everywhere. It’s not a large number and it’s regrettable that they are not convinced by evidence. It’s sufficient to look what’s happening in hospitals, at the high number of people who are going to intensive care and, yes, regrettably, the high number of deaths due to this disease. I notice that very many Romanians, most Romanians, are respecting the norms imposed. (…) And to all those who don’t believe in this disease I recommend they look at the news for a little while to see what’s happening in hospitals and to ask persons who’ve had such cases in their families,” said Iohannis in a press conference at the Cotroceni presidential Palace.
He then declared himself revolted by the fact that public figures, such as those in the leadership of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), refuse to respect norms and conduct meetings within restaurants without wearing masks.
“Such a thing is revolting,” he said.
Compiled from Agerpres