Romania has cost the EU far less than planned so far. Despite Romania being eligible to receive far more than it was required to give between 2007 and 2012, the abysmal absorption rate of EU structural funds has meant that in practice, the country has been close to being a net contributor to the EU.
Over the period, Romania paid EUR 8 billion to the EU, 1 percent of GDP annually, and received EUR 10billion, according to local news service Ziarul Financiar. Of the EUR 10 billion Romania got from the EU, EUR 6 billion was in Structural Funds and EUR 4 billion was via direct payments. Without these direct payments, which are given automatically regardless of how the country administers them, Romania would have been a net contributor to the EU budget.
Romania received EUR 12 billion in pre- and post-accession funds. However, the absorption rate of EU Structural and Cohesion Funds, which account for some 60 percent of the total EUR 33.5 billion allocation, was only 12 percent.
Romania last year absorbed EUR 1.2 billion euros, up from EUR 700 million in 2011. The new government has made improving the EU absorption rate a priority and the issue is a perennial topic of discussion with EU officials, including PM Victor Ponta’s meeting with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso on February 4 following the latest Cooperation and Verification Mechanism report on Romania’s progress.