"God gives you but he is never stuffing it into your bag," is an old Romanian saying suggesting that everything one achieves in life should come with an effort. Most Romanians seem to have forgotten the proverb under the Communist regime which gave citizens a house and a job regardless of their efforts. They are now finding it difficult to get their funds from the European Union (EU), which involves making an effort.Inevitable really. Add Romania to the list of those who failed to take the full benefit of the funds, including Bulgaria, Greece and the Mezzogiorno. And it is not only their own failings which are to blame. The European Commission is essentially a bully, in that it is free to punish the less influential areas. It likes to throw its weight around in those areas where it can. It would not (and did not) dare behave in such a manner towards France, Germany or the UK.
The second poorest country in the EU, Romania continues to fail with the absorption of EU funds. At around 7.4% it is the state with the lowest absorption rate in the European Union. Absorption capacity is the extent to which a state is able to spend financial help from the EU in an effective and efficient way.
Romania’s very low degree of EU funds absorption has become an obsessive problem for the government in Bucharest. The government has repeatedly said the European funds represent the main priority for the country this year.
What are the main reasons for the failure to absorb the EU’s so-called structural funds? Analysts point to corruption, a lack of motivation and information, inadequate administrative capacity and major gaps in understanding how EU institutions work.
06 June 2012
The Bully from Brussels
Did you know I was once a Brussels bureaucrat? Yes, I was an administrative pedant for the cause of European unity, insisting that those claiming structural funds dotted every i and crossed every t before they received the moolah. Accordingly, it was with little surprise that I came across this sad little story on The Economist website: