An AFP comment on Romania’s use of EU funds again highlights the country’s miserable record in making use of the billions on offer from Brussels. According to AFP, Romania has used less than 10 percent of the EUR 20 billion available between 2007 and 2013, the lowest absorption rate in the EU.
There is plenty to potentially spend the EU funds on – schemes that would create work, improve infrastructure and better the lives of Romanians. But Romania is not only losing billions directly, when the extra investment EU funded infrastructure schemes could attract is taken into account. “I meet many investors who would like to come here, but do not because of difficulties in accessing our region,” the Mayor of Brasov George Scripcaru told AFP.
A government report found that there is a big problem with the execution of projects. According to AFP, constructors do not mobilize enough manpower and equipment and Romania’s Highways Authority does not oblige them to do so. Septimiu Pârvu, a deputy director at the Pro Democracy Association, told AFP that there are also problems with the authorities and their management of EU funded projects. “The bureaucracy imposed by the state in order to access funds is so complex that it becomes absurd,” he said.
Fraud and corruption have dogged Romania’s use of EU funds and have led to recent suspensions of funding for various schemes. The National Integrity Agency cites what is at best nepotism or favoritism, or at worst corruption and outright theft of EU money, as major obstacles to absorption. However, EU funds minister Leonard Orban, while acknowledging the financial irregularities, reckons that incompetence among both the administrators and beneficiaries is the biggest problem.
Wherever the blame lies, the waste goes on and on and ultimately Romania simply cannot afford to lose EU funding on offer.