World Bank Helps Romania’s Top-Performing Alba Iulia to Boost Potential to Access €69 Million in EU Funds

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The FINANCIAL — On September 24, the city of Alba Iulia and the World Bank held a ceremony to officially conclude their year-long engagement, which helped the city to assess its long-term development plans, strategies, and projects, and ultimately, prioritize 13 projects from a long-list of over 350 projects for implementation through 2020. The ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Alba Iulia Municipality, Mircea Hava, and World Bank Practice Manager, Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, David Sislen.

The city of Alba Iulia ranks first among Romanian county capitals in per capita EU funds absorption.  Although relatively small in size with a population of only about 68,000, it has managed to absorb or leverage €150 million in EU funds.  It is also unique in being the first municipality in Romania to have paid from its own budget to enter into a miscellaneous reimbursable agreement (MRA) with the World Bank. Through the MRA, the Bank provided advisory services between June 2014 and July 2015 to boost Alba Iulia’s potential to access EU funds in the 2014-20 period, according to the World Bank.

”Our joint activity with the World Bank is by no means arbitrary,” said the Mayor.  “And the fact that we are the only municipality in Romania which has built such a strategic partnership not only entitles us to be proud of being Alba Iulia citizens, but also gives us the certainty that Alba Iulia will have access to the best and most sustainable financial solutions. Our target is to have the EU funds available for the 2014-20 programming period, but also other financial resources, and this is why we had to establish the priorities of this city together with the Bank.”

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The methodology for project selection developed as part of the engagement with the municipality of Alba Iulia is now being considered by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration for application as prioritization methodology for projects that are to be submitted by 39 eligible county capitals in Romania for the Regional Operational Program 2014-20, worth €1.3 billion. 

The 13 priority projects for Alba Iulia include restoring key cultural heritage and tourist sites, improving vegetation in municipal parks, installing lighting systems, improving energy efficiency of housing units and schools, and rehabilitating nurseries/kindergartens.  These projects fit into Alba Iulia’s vision to become a European cultural and tourist attraction while continuing to grow into a smart, green, competitive and creative city.

“It is a two-way street,” said David Sislen. “Working so closely with the Alba Iulia team is a meaningful experience, and the World Bank has also learnt tremendously from this local administration. This knowledge has global relevance.”


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