Statements by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban at the start of the Cabinet meeting

22 July

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Ludovic Orban: We have the guarantee following the decision of the European Council that Romania will receive EUR 80 billion, allotments of the EU 2021-2027 budget, as well as allotments from the Recovery and Resilience facility of Next Generation EU. Furthermore, we benefit from resources from the SURE program, which finances active measures addressed to employees. We will also have the possibility of having financial resources available within React EU. Actually, over the next period, in order to access these financial resources, which represent a huge opportunity for Romania, we will have to mobilize to the fullest extent with respect to the multiannual financial exercise, the budget 2021- 2027. I think that there are two or three countries that benefit from an increase of budget compared to the 2014- 2020 budget – and here, it is about 46 billion euros. It is a huge amount.

Under the coordination of Mr. Minister Bolos, until July 31, we must define precisely which are the programs and categories of expenses, of beneficiaries, the type of projects eligible in the multiannual financial exercise. On July 31, we launch in public debate and be prepared to start negotiations for the partnership agreement with the EU so that we are prepared, immediately after 2021 starts, to make all the preparation formalities to absorb funds. The Executive has provided for the first time the amounts from POIM (the Large Infrastructure Operational Program) and POAT (the Technical Assistance Operational Program), namely from the Technical Assistance Program, for the preparation of projects.

This amount will have to be prepared not only for the Union budget for 2021-2027, but also for the projects we can finance under the Next Generation EU, in which we will benefit from 16.8 billion in loans and 16.7 billion in the form of grants, that is non-reimbursable amounts of money. And here, also under the coordination of Minister Bolos, we have started the drawing up of the resilience and recovery programme. With respect to the time frame, I am telling you that this resilience and recovery program will have to be adopted as a basis for negotiations with the European Commission, at the latest by October 1. Think about the fact that regarding the absorption of funds as part of the Next Generation EU - almost 34 billion euros - will have to be achieved in 2021, 2022 and 2023, and 70% of the funds must be contracted in the first two years, and here, we will have to draw up a detailed plan regarding the preparation of all aspects that could allow us to make full use of these financial resources that Romania benefits from.

The negotiations carried by the President of Romania brought us in a situation of having a chance Romania may probably be given once in a generation. It is a huge opportunity, we have at our disposal funds we have not even dreamt of, which, if we use them efficiently, for development, infrastructure, funding investments in education, healthcare, agriculture, we can finance as many projects as possible, which are indispensable for Romania’s development so that I am confident that we will be prepared to use this money to ensure an unprecedented development for Romania.

As regards drawing up both the recovery and resilience Programme, /…/ and the draft budget for 2021- 2027, it is obvious that I designated Minister Bolos for this, as he is the Minister of European Funds and knows best which are the most appropriate ways to prepare programs that can be funded and projects that could benefit from funding.

On the other hand, I request each Minister to treat as first priority for the period to come, the preparation of these programs and the preparation of the absorption of European funds. Here, in addition to the fact that more clarifications, as well as more simplifications are required, we will have to train the human resource. Think that for the absorption, at least, during 2021- 2022- 2023, there will be such a load of work on all structures of the administration and private structures, potential beneficiaries, in terms of the EU funds absorption, as it has never been before, in the history of Romania. During 2021- 2022 – 2023, we finalize within the N+3 mechanism, the projects which were started in the 2014-2020 budget. Secondly, we will have to ensure the contraction of all amounts available to us under the “Next Generation EU”. We also have to start at full-speed, contracting all projects which can be financed under the 2021- 2027 budget.

We cannot do what those in office before us, did, who made no progress for five or six years and now, on the last hundred meters, we had to speed up all the procedures and that there will be a lot of projects that will not even be completed in N + 3 and we will have to resort to phasing. Therefore, treat with utmost seriousness your involvement in drawing up programs and in preparing the absorption of European funds, as well as in preparing the type of projects that we know will be eligible for funding, so as to anticipate any possible increase in the load of responsibilities and tasks on the various structures under your authority, which are involved in the absorption of European funds. Minister Bolos…

Marcel Boloș: Thank you, Prime Minister. As you mentioned, for the accurate information of the public opinion, in addition to the 79.9 billion euros, we also have the SURE instrument, with Romania still having the possibility to access another 5 billion euros, therefore, it would be a total budget of EUR 85 billion, for what means a multiannual financial framework for the programming period 2021- 2027. As you said, until 31 July, we need to close and launch in public debate, the structure of the operational programs and to send reports to the Commission on September 15- operational programs, in order to enter into the negotiation procedure, so that the budget allocated on the multiannual financial framework 2021-2027 be available to Romania and the beneficiaries in the first part of 2021, in order to avoid the mistakes that have been made in the past.

As regards the new financial instrument, the Next Generation EU, as you have mentioned, October is again a hot month for the completion of the first draft of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and then the negotiation process with the Commission, which will probably be extremely difficult, because there are laid the foundations of the projects that are a priority for Romania and we are going to pull together during this period, so that we can successfully achieve our two major objectives.

Ludovic Orban: When do you estimate that the regulations related to the MFF and the Next Generation EU will be approved?

Marcel Boloș: As the part of the regulations and the European parliamentary procedure have been currently launched in the debate, we hope that the approval of the regulations will be completed this year, so that, after their official approval, we can obtain the decisions of the European Commission on what means the approval of the operational programs and, of course, we can organize project calls starting with the first part of 2021.

Ludovic Orban: Thank you. The main objective of today's meeting is the adoption of the normative acts necessary for the implementation of the economic re-launch program. I remember being asked, when I mentioned the amount of 100 billion euros, where do we get this money from. Now I think that everyone sees that we knew that this money will be available for Romania and that we relied, in drawing up Romania’s economic re-launch plan, on the financial resources that we knew and we anticipated that we would have at our disposal.

In addition to the draft normative acts on the meeting agenda, as scheduled, we have the draft emergency ordinance on the approval of the program on supporting small and medium enterprises, SMEs, leasing of equipment and machinery, which we had in a first reading, the "New Home" Program, as it will be called, which we also had in a first reading, we have the Memorandum on funding investment grants under the Regional Operational Programme on axis 2-1 and 2-2. Minister, are we prepared?

(...)



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