Romanian authorities sent projects worth EUR 629 million to the European Commission for approval in December 2018, of which EUR 571 million are related to projects that got to Brussels in the last two weeks of 2018, according to Regional Development commissioner Corina Cretu’s Facebook post on Sunday.
Cretu says that she had warned Romanian authorities ever since the beginning of last year about the risk of losing EUR 830 million of the Regional Operational Programme, and that they had to submit projects to cover this amount by December 31, 2018.
“Due to the intense efforts of the European Commission and the Romanian authorities, the risk of automatically losing the funds was avoided by identifying and finding solutions for the obstacles that had appeared in the implementation process,” Cretu wrote. “I want to note that all the measures proposed for accelerating EU funds absorption followed the implementation rules for structural and investment European funds, and supervised by the EC’s Legal Services.”
One of the measures taken, according to Cretu, was to change several operational programmes in order to direct funding from priorities that had low absorption (such as urban transport in small cities), towards areas that had a better absorption potential (such as healthcare and SMEs).
Another measure was the expansion of financial instruments and the merger between the SMEs Operational Programme with the Regional Operational Programme, which led to the absorption of EUR 250 million.
Third, eligibility was expanded to new types of spending and recipients, which allowed a series of projects that had not been up for EU funding in the beginning, known as alternative projects, to be able to receive funds.
“For example, a project that was taken into account for EU funds was the acquisition of 700 ambulances that were going to be purchased using national funds,” the commissioner noted.