Romania begins negotiations with EC over rural funding

Newsroom 25/03/2014 | 09:59

Romanian farmers should be able to submit their first financing requests – including for investments in farms – under the National Program for Rural Development (NPRD) 2014-2020 over the coming months.

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Simona Bazavan

Last week, the Romanian authorities sent to Brussels the first draft of the National Program for Rural Development (NPRD), announced Daniel Constantin, the minister of agriculture and rural development. The program will regulate how local farmers can gain access to the approximately EUR 8 billion of EU funds available between 2014 and 2020.

However, before the local authorities and the European Commission (EC) reach a final formal agreement on the program’s contents, Romania, along with all other member states, can start project sessions for some of the measures, said Dacian Ciolos, EU commissioner for agriculture and rural development. Speaking during a visit to Bucharest last week, he added that this will apply to investments in farms, among other measures, and could happen over the next few months.

“I understood from Minister Constantin, with whom I talked a few weeks ago, that for some measures Romania will make use of the option provided by EU regulation to begin project sessions before the formal approval of the NPRD, as long as procedures are clear and there is an informal agreement between the EC and Romania on the content of those measures,” he explained. As soon as a formal agreement over the NPRD is reached, the program can be applied in its entirety, once the Romanian authorities draft all the necessary procedures, added the commissioner.

Fewer measures but better targeted

Romania’s EU allocation for investments in rural development for the 2014-2020 period is down by about EUR 100 million compared to 2007-2013, but Ciolos believes this is not a setback. “I think Romania should be content with the fact that it managed to maintain a similar budget for rural development, as most EU countries saw cuts, in some cases significant cuts of up to 18-20 percent (…),” said Ciolos. He added that Romania will see its direct payments go up between 2014 and 2020 – by about 47.5 percent – while other member states will experience cuts here as well.

Under the first draft of the NPRD 2014-2020, the EUR 8 billion allocated by the EU to Romania for investments in rural development will be available through 14 measures. This was down from the 24 measures in the NPRD for 2007-2013 and will allow a better focus on the needs of local farmers, said authorities.

Special focus will be given to investments in production for both small and large farms, with a dedicated program for investments in orchards, the integration of production chains and incentives for young Romanians looking to set up a farming business in rural areas.

Ciolos stressed again that the reformed CAP takes into consideration the specific structural situation of Romania’s agriculture and allows players to modulate the way EU funds are spend. However, in order for Romania to benefit from the facilities proposed by the reformed CAP, local authorities have to take “strategic decisions over the coming months regarding the next four, five years,” urged the commissioner.

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