The FINANCIAL — The Government of Romania is determined to increase the rate of absorption of European Union funds, including through leveraging expertise from International Financial Institutions like the EBRD.
The Bank will provide technical assistance to support Romania in further developing and consolidating the water and waste water services in the country over a period of two years, according to an agreement signed by Matteo Patrone, EBRD Regional Director for Romania and Bulgaria, and Marius Nica, Delegated Minister for European Funds at Romania’s Ministry of Regional Development, in Bucharest today. The assignment will focus on sustainability of the regional water utilities, as beneficiaries of large EU grant amounts, according to the EBRD.
Mr. Patrone said: “We are very pleased to join forces with Romania and the EU in this important sector. We will offer our expertise to ensure that EU structural funds are used in an effective and efficient way, so that they can deliver better and sustainable water services. The EBRD will further support the water sector reforms, with the objective to improve governance and sustainability of the water services, with focus on sector consolidation and long term asset management strategies.”
Mr. Nica said: “The cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development offers us the possibility to act with the aim of supporting the strategic development of the water and waste water sector, and ensure the sustainability of investments made from European funds in this area.”
The signing follows an agreement concluded in February 2016 about the provision of technical assistance for projects and programmes funded through EU Structural Instruments under the 2014-2020 programming period. Under this agreement, the water sector has been identified as one of the strategic priorities.
When Romania joined the EU in 2007, its water sector was fragmented with hundreds of small and inefficient water utilities across the country. Granted several transition periods to reach EU standards for water and wastewater infrastructure and services, the country began an ample process of consolidating and regionalising its utilities to turn them into more efficient autonomous public enterprises acting under commercial law.
During the last decade, the EBRD supported the regionalisation process by providing co-financing to EU programmes and facilitating technical assistance for sector reforms. Significant progress was achieved with most of the urban population today having access to modern water infrastructure and improved service quality. More remains to be done to extend the water infrastructure in smaller municipalities and rural areas and to integrate them into the regional water systems.
The EU 2014-2020 programmes include further €3.5 billion of grant support for Romania’s water sector. The country works on how to best approach the next phase of development so as to effectively extend access to water and wastewater, enhance public service standards and increase efficiency.
Along traditionally financing of the water sector, the EBRD has already worked with Romania on previous technical assistance projects. Now EBRD staff and consultants will work on formulating strategic options, refining and extending the country’s benchmarking system and capacity building for regional companies in the water sector. Conclusions and expertise will be shared through workshops and seminars.
The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Romania. To date it has invested over €7.6 billion in over 406 projects in the country, and mobilised more than €14 billion from other sources of financing.