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Iohannis: European financial resources must be used intelligently, precisely what Romania intends to do


President Klaus Iohannis stressed on Wednesday that European funds must be used intelligently in the context of the epidemiological crisis.

"The current epidemiological crisis has shown us that the European Union, as a whole, but also we, each member country, must adapt as well as possible to the process of change we are going through, in order to become as competitive and efficient as possible. Hence, the financial resources we have at our disposal must be used intelligently, and this is precisely what Romania intends to do," the president told a press conference held at the Cotroceni Palace.

The president held a meeting on Wednesday with Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, Deputy Prime Minister Raluca Turcan, Minister of Public Finance, Florin Citu, Minister of Economy, Energy and Business Environment Virgil Popescu, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communications Lucian Bode, Minister of European Funds Marcel Bolos, and Minister of Health Nelu Tataru, to analyze the state of preparation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

President Iohannis recalled that Romania obtained at the European Council meeting in July approximately 80 billion euros of European funds for the next nine years, specifying that a significant part of these funds, over 30 billion euros, will be used to accelerate the economic recovery in the post-pandemic period under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

"The funds I'm talking about, in addition to those that we will access through the Union's multiannual budget for the period 2021-2027 are a historic opportunity for us to develop Romania, to build motorways, railways, to modernize energy and environmental infrastructure, to implement digitalisation programmes in the economy, in administration. There are funds that will allow major investment in education and health. All these projects will have tangible beneficial consequences for Romanians and will contribute significantly to increasing the quality of life of each of us," he said.

The president said that during the meeting with the representatives of the Government 12 priority directions were established, namely: health; education; digitalisation and cyber-security; sustainable transport; combating climate change; environmental protection; energy; energy efficiency; urban mobility; business environment and entrepreneurship; research-innovation, as well as increasing resilience capacity under crisis conditions in the health care and food fields.

"When I say that I am confident that the current government will be able to get the money now made available by the EU, I rely on facts, not opinions. Attracting European funds, those that are now at our disposal, is already at a much better level than in previous governments. The figures speak for themselves. The amounts attracted by Romania from European funds in the last 12 months total 4.1 billion euros, plus direct payments in agriculture. That means that in a certain year the absorption rate has increased from 32 pct to 46 pct," the president said.

Iohannis gave as examples of projects carried out the metro line Drumul Taberei - Eroilor and the railway connection North Station - Otopeni Airport. He also said that major transport projects, such as the Sibiu-Pitesti motorway, the Transylvania motorway, the Craiova-Pitesti express road, the Bucharest belt, were unlocked.

He stressed that another extremely important area where European funds are vital is health care.

"This year, the financing contracts for the regional hospitals in Craiova, Iasi and Cluj were concluded and the legal procedures for the public procurement contracts necessary for the implementation of the technical project were initiated. The total value of these projects is 1.6 billion euros, and the total hospital capacity that is being realized is over 2,500 beds," the president said.

He also gave the example of the fact that this year there was the opening of a call for projects worth 235 million euros for the establishment and expansion of smart gas distribution networks.