Romania risks losing billions in EU funds for environment

USR MEP Vlad Gheorghe warns that Romania could lose significant amounts of EU funds available for the environment between 2023 and 2027. In short, in the proposal for Payments for Forest-Environment and Climate Commitments in the CAP National Strategic Plan 2023-2027 the government has allocated only about 0.3% of the total budget for environment, climate and other management commitments.

The document was coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Ths issue is that only €45 million was included for forests and environment.  The total sum that Romania has is €15.9 billion to spend from 2023 onwards and €6.2 billion for 2021-2022.

“Romania is already in numerous infringement procedures because of unfulfilled environmental commitments. Last November, the European Commission referred again Romania to the EU Court of Justice for non-compliance. This time it was over landfills. Not making the most of the European money available for the environment is intolerable,” says Vlad Gheorghe. The Romanian MEP’s proposal – EU Green Prosecutor, fighting environmental crimes – was recently supported by colleagues in the Renew group.

EU strategy

The European Parliament’s resolution of 9 June 2021 on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 states that Member States should strive to achieve at least 10% annual spending on biodiversity in the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). Furthermore, to tackle the dramatic decline in biodiversity, the EP argues in its resolution of 23 November 2021 that strategic plans should contribute to mainstreaming biodiversity actions into Union policies. In addition, these should support achieving the ambitious overall target of allocating 7.5% of annual spending in the Multiannual Financial Framework to biodiversity targets in 2024 and 10% of annual spending in the MFF in 2026 and 2027.

USR MEP Vlad Gheorghe says that he wrote to the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture last year. He asked them to urgently take the necessary measures. He calls on them to correct the budget deficit allocated to environment for the CAP National Strategic Plan 2023-2027:

“Otherwise, we find ourselves in the situation of jeopardising the absorption of European funds. Once again Romania will not meet all its EU objectives. This is unacceptable”, Gheorghe stresses.

Romanian Government keeps silent on the issue

In its reply to the USR MEP, the Environment Ministry says it has sent numerous requests to its colleagues on the subject. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has so far not replied to Vlad Gheorghe’s question. The National Strategic Plan should have been submitted to the European Commission by 31 December 2021.

“This lack of accountability, lack of transparency and the carelessness or incompetence of the government are the main reasons why the environment in Romania has been suffering for over 30 years”, says the USR MEP who, since taking office in November 2020, has addressed over 130 questions, including on numerous issues related to environmental protection to the relevant ministry, the National Forestry Agency, the National Agency for Environmental Protection, the National Agency for Protected Natural Areas, the Environmental Guard.

Romania is home to two-thirds of Europe’s temperate primary and secular forests. These are ecosystems protected by European legislation as Natura 2000 protected areas.

Unfortunately, environmental activists, journalists and whistleblowers in the relevant institutions have long been pointing out that these areas are being systematically destroyed. And this is happening either through logging operations approved by the authorities or through illegal logging encouraged by their indolence.

In this way, Romania is irreversibly losing entire habitats, as well as tourism and economic development opportunities for the communities in the area.

“For this very reason, the maximum use of European funds for biodiversity conservation should be a priority for the Romanian Government. Especially as we are talking about record amounts of money since Romania’s accession”, says USR MEP Vlad Gheorghe.

Read the full press release

Read the response received from the Ministry of Environment