Many EU projects are blocked in Romania because directors who should make decisions and kick projects forward are afraid of being investigated by anti-corruption body the DNA, and the same fear is present in the Government, said Prime Minister Victor Ponta. “This is extremely twisted: I try to find out why EU funds, and bids are blocked all the time. We’ve made 100 institutions, all controlling something. In the end, when I ask what they’re doing, they say they don’t know how, because if they give money, the DNA will come and get them,” the PM explained.
He went on: There are talks even in Government meetings: <We cannot do it> I am told. <But we are the Government, we issue decisions> I say. <Yes, but then the DNA will come> is the answer. So in Romania, decisions are not made for fear DNA will come and investigate the person making the decision, Ponta concluded.
However, the DNA was created to fight big corruption, and not investigate every small chief of a political party in a remote village, and because of this, in fact the DNA does not do anything, because it does not have enough prosecutors, the PM explained.
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 in 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.