The European Commission has today endorsed a positive preliminary assessment of part of the milestones and targets linked to Romania’s second payment request under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), the key instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU.
On 16 December 2022, Romania submitted to the Commission a payment request based on the 49 milestones and 2 targets set out in the Council Implementing Decision for the second payment. After looking at the evidence provided by the Romanian authorities, the Commission considered 47 milestones and 2 targets out of the 49 milestones and 2 targets to be satisfactorily fulfilled.
The 47 milestones and 2 targets that have been satisfactorily fulfilled demonstrate progress in the implementation of Romania’s recovery and resilience plan. They cover reforms in the areas of the green and digital transition, as well as reforms and investments related to improving governmental coordination for public policy delivery, improving water management, supporting tourism and promoting culture. Other reforms and investments are aimed at improving human resources management in the healthcare sector, enhancing tax administration and the sustainability of the pensions system, modernising infrastructure in education, ensuring the independence of the judiciary and stepping-up the fight against corruption. The payment request also covers reforms to improve road safety and investments to financially support the private sector.
The Commission has found that two milestones related to energy investments (specifically, milestone 129 and milestone 133) have not been satisfactorily fulfilled. The Commission acknowledges the first steps already taken by Romania to fulfil these outstanding milestones, though important work remains to be done. The Commission is therefore activating the ‘payment suspension’ procedure, under Article 24(6) of the RRF Regulation.
In line with the RRF Regulation and as explained in the Communication published on 21 February 2023, this procedure gives Member States additional time to fulfil the outstanding milestones, while receiving a partial payment linked to the milestones and targets that have been satisfactorily fulfilled.
Romania’s recovery and resilience plan includes a wide range of investment and reform measures organised in fifteen thematic components. The plan is supported by more than €29 billion in grants and loans, 13% of which (€3.7 billion) was disbursed to Romania as pre-financing in December 2021 (€1.8 billion in pre-financing from grants) and in January 2022 (€1.9 billion in pre-financing from loans). On 27 October 2022, Romania received the first instalment of €2.6 billion (€1.8 billion in grants and €0.8 billion in loans) net of pre-financing.
Payments under the RRF are performance-based and contingent on Member States implementing the investments and reforms outlined in their respective recovery and resilience plans.
The Commission strongly encourages all Member states, including Romania, to proceed with the timely implementation of their respective recovery and resilience plans.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “Romania has progressed well in the implementation of its recovery and resilience plan, for instance carrying out reforms on road safety, renewable energy and public sector cloud services. Romania has also been taking important steps to fight undeclared work and to invest in 5G networks. Now, we encourage Romania to speed up its work within the next six months on the two milestones related to energy investments that are not yet fulfilled. We encourage all Member States, including Romania, to proceed swiftly with the implementation of their recovery and resilience plans. The Commission stands by your side.”
In line with Article 24(6) of the RRF Regulation, the positive preliminary assessment and the payment suspension are two distinct procedures that follow different steps.
- As regards the positive preliminary assessment: the Commission has now sent its preliminary assessment of the milestones and targets that Romania has fulfilled to the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), asking for its opinion. The EFC’s opinion, to be delivered within a maximum of four weeks, should be taken into account in the Commission’s final assessment. Following the EFC’s opinion on the positive preliminary assessment and Romania’s observations on the payment suspension, and taking both into account, the Commission will adopt the decision on the payment of the instalment, in accordance with the examination procedure, through a comitology committee. Following the adoption of the decision by the Commission, the payment to Romania can take place.
- As regards the payment suspension: the Commission has communicated to Romania the reasons why it considers that two milestones were not satisfactorily fulfilled. This communication starts an administrative procedure between the Commission and the Member State concerned. Romania now has a right to present to the Commission its observations within one month from the receipt of the communication. If, following Romania’s observations, the Commission were to confirm its assessment that the two outstanding milestones have not been satisfactorily fulfilled, it will determine the amount of the payment to be suspended by applying its methodology for payment suspension (set out in Annex II to the 21 February Communication). From that moment, Romania will have a period of six months to satisfactorily fulfil the outstanding milestones. During this period of six months, the Commission will engage in active dialogue with the Romanian authorities. If and when the milestones will have been fulfilled, the Commission will lift the suspension of the payment and send its assessment to the EFC, following the above outlined procedure on the positive preliminary assessment.
The Commission will assess further payment requests by Romania based on the fulfilment of the milestones and targets outlined in the Council Implementing Decision, reflecting progress on the implementation of the investments and reforms.
The amounts disbursed to the Member States are published in the Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard, which shows progress of the implementation of the national recovery and resilience plans.