European Commissioner for Regional Policy has criticized the absence of projects from the Bucharest authorities during a press conference in Brussels on Monday and has publicly warned that she will no longer accept insults from the Romanian Government regarding her work.
“I really want to announce you publicly that I no longer accept the insults from the Romanian Government regarding my work,” said Corina Creţu, visibly irritated, answering the journalists’ questions, hotnews.ro reports.
“I do not understand the tension that has been created between me and the Government because I said things by name. We have money in Brussels for the infrastructure projects, but we have no projects,” said Corina Creţu, member of the Social-Democratic Party headed by Liviu Dragnea.
She has also provided concrete examples, citing the case of the Târgu Mureş-Iaşi highway, about which the Bucharest Government recently decided that the Târgu Neamţ-Iaşi section should be built by public-private partnership, although there is European money for its construction, including for the feasibility studies.
“Târgu Mureş-Iaşi, first of all, is a priority for the European Commission, and I say it with all sincerity here, on the podium of the European Commission, we need to complete the infrastructure projects connecting Europe, especially with the Republic of Moldova, Moldavia , Central and Eastern Europe. We have money for feasibility studies, we have no demand for these feasibility studies,” said Corina Cretu.
“If we make the offer and we can do this feasibility study by 2020-2021 and start building, I think we will be a step forward. Unfortunately, we saw that in its sitting the Government announced that it wants to build this highway in the public-private partnership system,” Corina Cretu said.
She has warned that Commission specialists “don’t feel comfortable with this approach because it means deprioritizing this investment.”
Corina Creţu said that it is her duty, as European Commissioner, to warn all Member States, so implicitly Romania, about the risk of losing or of funds disengagement, especially in the field of infrastructure, given that they are complex with works lasting years: “I have to do my job and announce when a country risks losing its chances of development for generations.”
She stressed that, in the case of Romania, she made “extraordinary” efforts to increase the absorption rate. “We have phased a lot of projects, worth EUR 3 billion, we basically relieved the national budget of EUR 3 billion expenditures, money that would have been lost,” thus reaching an absorption rate for the 2007 – 2013 period of over 90% when the level was of only 50% when he took over the office as European Commissioner.
“EUR 2 billion has been lost, unfortunately in the most vulnerable and most necessary area for Romania, the one of transport. For the period 2014-2020, we are making superhuman efforts to avoid fund disengagement,” Corina Creţu again warned, asking for “new, mature projects”.
Currently, there is only one major project in the Commission’s analysis, the Otopeni-North Railway Station (Gara de Nord) subway project. On the waiting list are the Craiova-Piteşti, Târgu Mureş-Iaşi motorways, the Braila bridge.
“What I want people to understand – for our part there is all the openness, but as long as we have no projects we do not have what to analyse and we do not have what to co-finance. There’s nothing simpler than this…” Corina Cretu said.
Senate Speaker, Tariceanu says Corina Cretu is driven by the best intentions
Senate Speaker, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, has said on Monday he is convinced Corina Cretu is driven by the best intentions and that she has a bit of truth.
“I believe she is driven by the best intentions. What she says is more than a bit of truth because Cretu and the European Commission have the funds for this financial period. It is true, the projects need to be completed. The money is not given by saying – get the money and do what you want with it,” Tariceanu said.
He pointed to the Pitesti-Sibiu highway, discussed for a long time, but the project has to be prepared in order to get the funding.
“I am not in the position to tell them, at the Transport Ministry, what to do. But something has to be done. The projects need to be worked, pushed, elaborate them,” the ALDE leader said.