RO Govt.: no agreement with EC on key relaunch projects
"We simply have different visions," said the Romanian minister of investments and European projects Cristian Ghinea, commenting on the ongoing negotiations with the European Commission (EC) on the National Relaunch and Resilience Program (PNRR), quoted by Economica.net.
Still, he refused to provide more details on the negotiations, claiming that "in no country, such details were publicly provided."
He also complained about being treated as a student sitting for an exam that he may fail or pass. "That's not how Brussels works," he said, admitting that "it's the Commission that has the button, at the end of the day."
The ruling coalition held a meeting on Wednesday, April 26, on the PNRR topic - where a change of plans was apparently decided, most likely in response to the comments (150 pages or comments, minister Ghinea disclosed) received from the Commission.
Among the key decisions announced by prime minister Forin Citu after the coalition meeting, the deadline for submitting the final document was officially deferred for May 31 (president Klaus Iohannis said this might be even later), the portfolio of projects was slashed from over EUR 40 billion to EUR 29 bln, and the Government will send the line ministers in Brussels to advocate in favor of individual projects.
While the former move (deferring the deadline) was previously announced and somehow expected, the two other decisions mark significant deviations from the Government's recent rhetoric of playing down the discrepancies between the Commission's expectations and the Government's projects.
Minister Ghinea keeps claiming that "everything is alright" but admits that besides the three key projects already rejected by the Commission (the gas distribution network, the irrigation system, and most of the motorway projects), there is more at risk - namely the budget earmarked by the Government to the local administrations - a significant slice of the PNRR delegated by the central Government with the indication to fill it with "green" and "digitization" projects that would balance the more traditional projects proposed at the central level.
No detail was disclosed about the EUR 10 bln worth of projects skipped overnight.
PM Citu stressed that "no project was abandoned," adding that "it was a discussion [aimed] to optimize what we had so far in PNRR," Ziarul Financiar reported.
Minister Ghinea mentioned that the amount of EUR 29 bln was reached by reducing the financing of some investment lines.
As regards the third key decision announced after the coalition meeting, PM Citu accepted an idea he had rejected until recently - namely sending line ministers to talk directly with the Commission's experts about individual projects.