Commissioner-designate for Regional Policy, Corina Cretu, nominated by Romania got the Committee on Regional Development (REGI) approval, following a three-hour long hearing yesterday at the European Parliament in Brussels. The plenum vote is scheduled on October 22. Cretu stated her main slogan is to help EU member states to spend money and not to fine them. She pledged to support macro regional strategies, as they “are encouraging member states to work together”. Yet she pointed out it is the states that should initiate these strategies. Asked by a MEP how she would support macro regional strategies, the commissioner-designate for Regional Policy reminded the audience the Danube strategy was fueled by a joint statement of the Romanian and Austrian prime ministers, that eventually all other countries rallied to. “Practically now we have a well functioning strategy”, Cretu said, adding that setting up a national Carpathian strategy is also viable but it would need the local authorities and partners’ involvement.
As for the EC, Cretu said its mission is to help member states develop their administrative capacity, arguing most of the errors in the EU funds’ absorption derive from a poor administrative capacity.
The commissioner v owed to visit as many countries from the 277 EU regions as possible, having first stops in the states that benefit the most by the development funds.
She also promised to focus more on the cities’ needs, given the fact that 75 per cent of the EU population is living in the city, where social exclusion could be larger than in the rural areas. Cretu exemplified the Regional Policy’s EUR 5.2 bl grant for the main public services, such as council houses and access to health service.
The commissioner–designate did not pledge instead to extend 2007-2013 financing period after 2015, only saying she will struggle to help those countries with disadvantaged regions spend the money by then. “The quality of the programs should not be sacrificed only for the sake of absorption. I am concerned with this speed standard, with this trend of giving the quality up”, she said.