Romanian Government

Thursday, 10 June

Prime Minister Florin Cîțu attended the meeting of the West Regional Development Council

[Check against delivery]


Florin Cîțu: I would like to thank you for the invitation! I am glad that you started with the European funds, and after we discussed PNRR, we return to PNRR, to absorption on the 2021- 2027 exercise, as I am looking at all funding sources for investments. Romania needs investment, and nobody can deny this fact. We have projects at different stages of preparation and we have three sources of funding: the national budget, which we all know; there are European funds – and here I agree that things went weak, to say the least, but also because of legislation in force, the way work used to be done, and red tape, which we all complain about, but nothing has been done in these years, and, and we are dutybound to change things in the next years, within a tight deadline – and of course, PNRR. We all look at this amount, which was in fact negotiated by President Klaus Iohannis. The 76 million euros are allocated to Romania after the negotiations carried out by President Klaus Iohannis.

The PNRR implementation started last year. I started the project last year, at the Ministry of Finance, under the patronage of President Klaus Iohannis. Ever since I discussed projects and the prioritization of these projects. The PNRR that we have already submitted, has two components. Why is it a special program and why I like very much this PNRR? First of all, it has a reform component and an investment component. At the same time, it has a clear deadline: 2026. Therefore, we discuss 2026, and the 29.2 billion euros which should be invested. We do not refer to consumption, only to investments. Furthermore, in addition to European funds, we have some intermediate milestones, which makes things very simple for us when we assess a project. We have a project that is part of PNRR, ongoing, for instance, building a hospital. I said very clearly that my priority is to build some hospitals in this period. No hospital has been built in 30 years. If a project has been long postponed, it can be replaced by another. We should attain those milestones on investment and reforms, if not, we do not get the money.

It seems very transparent, very clear, very effective; you know from the beginning what you're getting into. Therefore, in PNRR, an important condition was for projects to be mature so that they can be carried through by 2026. And here not ... I know that people have been discussing - why project X or project Y is not included. You cannot go to the European Commission with projects that are historically completed in six, seven, eight years and say that you do them in three years after you have never done such a project in Romania, so you have no background that you can do such a project.

That is why I was very transparent and very honest when I negotiated with the European Commission, and I wanted to be very clear: we include in the PNRR what is achievable because our goal is to obtain 29.2 billion euros. Clearly there, and there has been a lot of discussions - and I only give you three elements. First, the infrastructure.

There was a discussion about infrastructure, whether or not it is green - because another condition of PNRR is that each project has an important green component, so as to avoid pollution, and the other condition- digitalization. In the discussions we had there, I said very clearly that Romania needs investments in infrastructure and that we will make them anyway - either through PNRR, or through the budget, but we will make the investment.

And considering the fact that we have a fiscal-budgetary strategy to reduce the budget deficit, it is better to carry them out through PNRR, because they are cheaper. That was one of the arguments. And there are significant sums allocated. A second thing I care about a lot in PNRR, and again it was discussed, is the construction of new hospitals. Because this programme emerged after a health crisis that hit the whole of Europe, and I noticed that no matter how much money was invested in health systems across Europe, they all had problems and they were all close to collapse. That is why this construction of new hospitals is an important component; for Romania, it is a vital one. In 30 years, no hospital has been built with public money. We managed to get through the pandemic better than other countries because we took other measures, but at one point, there was pressure on our health system. Remember very well, in the third wave, when we had to increase the number of beds at ATI by 200 beds, and this could not be done; it was very complicated to do things overnight. Therefore, the part of resilience here stems from the programme, you build a flexible, strong health system that can withstand shocks and the ability to have hospitals is one of the components. The third element had to be negotiated and, again, I explained that Romania needs this Development Fund for administrative-territorial units.

A development fund worth two billion euros there, money that will go to the administrative-territorial units, especially those that have not had access to funding so far. It was a negotiation, a discussion and I said very clearly that Romania needs this fund. Romania needs to develop and needs this fund, and we will do it and it is in PNRR. Of course, I have included there, Mr President, the county councils, which will be able to access the funds; it is an element of novelty. That has been part of the PNRR so far. The implementation of the PNRR follows; that it is not easy. I know we are looking at this money and we say 76 billion euros for Romania. It needs five years to attract this amount, Romania's GDP is 200 billion euros at present.

Therefore, we are talking about a very large amount, which means that the administration has to work very efficiently. The bureaucracy we are talking about has a component in the central administration that I will deal with, but it also has a component, which you have to deal with. We must all cut through the red tape so that we can attract this money so that we can benefit from this money. 76 billion euros, 29.2 billion from PNRR.

It is a challenge for all of us this amount, you know it, as well as to be able to maintain the macro balance and so on, but I am sure we can do this because we are all aware that we will not encounter again this chance we have now; this Marshall Plan in addition to European funds, and budget resources. We have a growing economy, we have resources and we can make other investments, those that are not included in the PNRR and i European funds. That is why we have a unique chance at this moment, and the fact that we are talking about 2027 makes very clear to me the mission and the objective of maintaining this government for at least eight years. Because I want to make sure that we invest this money: we make new reforms, and we implement these programs at the same time. The three important elements are in fact several in PNRR, we are negotiating but in my opinion, the following are vital: road and rail infrastructure that Romania needs, hospitals and this fund for administrative-territorial units, in which the county councils have been included. Last but not least: the implementation ordinance we will approve will include also the ADRs at implementing units. Therefore, ADRs will be part of this ordinance, in charge of implementing the investment projects, alongside the Ministries. It is an amendment we are going to make over the next period. Thank you.