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Dragoș Pîslaru: REPowerEU should be used for a deep renovation, so that energy efficiency becomes a reality

3 April 2023

Romania can access additional European grants that it could use for housing renovation and energy efficiency, said Dragoș Pîslaru, MEP, President of the Commission for Employment and Social Affairs, Renew Europe Group.

“Romania has received, at this moment, 1.4 billion euros in additional grants in this REPowerEU chapter, which are added to the PNRR. We have a deadline of the end of April to submit how we want to spend this money, and last week, in a more pushed-than-natural way, there was the first, and I think the last, public consultation session on at REPower EU. I believe that REPower should not be limited to the 1.4 billion that we are currently discussing. In the negotiations, it was very clearly mentioned that we can add, to this 1.4 billion euros, amounts that can come from the money of the Cohesion Policy 2021-2027, up to 7.5% of this money. Why would we do such a thing? Because, instead of leaving them in the Cohesion Policy, with co-financing from the Romanian state, in REPowerEU, there would be one hundred percent European financing. Thus, we could invest more, given that absorption has obviously been a problem for Romania for some time,” said Dragoș Pîslaru, according to Financialintelligence.

“The second important source of financing is the unused loans from the PNRR member states. Romania borrows on foreign markets with considerable interest. We could use money from the recovery and resilience mechanism, from the loans not used by the other member states to finance.

“The third source, perhaps the most important and where I personally negotiated, to make sure that this is possible – we can get funds to use, until the end of this year, from the old cohesion policy, 2014-2020. Unfortunately, at this moment, the effective absorption rate shows us that Romania has not spent 9 billion euro or so, which the chances of spending in their entirety by the end of the year are quite small. We could move, with a decision of the Government, before the end of April, this money for a deep renovation program during this summer.

“On the budget, I notice that Romania is only looking at 1.4 billion euros in grants, instead of looking at a budget that could quietly reach somewhere over three billion euros. This only reduces our potential to invest seriously in energy efficiency, mobilize renewable resources and help vulnerable consumers.

The second important thing, assuming we only have this 1.4 billion, what exactly should we spend it on? The Romanian Government, even before the final negotiations on this file, on this European regulation, thought about large energy infrastructure. And indeed, at one point, somewhere in May last year, the European Commission was also thinking mainly about big infrastructure, how we can reconnect at the European level, so that we are no longer dependent on Russian gas.

But in the meantime, with the arrival of autumn, we have seen the significant impact of energy bills and how this impact is disproportionately on small businesses, on households, on families who find themselves having to choose between paying their current food expenses and pay the energy bill.

That’s why I think it’s vital that most of this amount of grants goes towards energy efficiency, obviously, with a view to deep structural reforms, a deep renovation of the housing stock in Romania and which also helps small entrepreneurs, SMEs to be able to benefit from this support.”

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