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Statement by President von der Leyen on Romania's recovery and resilience plan

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op maandag 27 september 2021.

Thank you very much dear Mr President, dear Klaus,

Mr Prime Minister, dear Florin,

First of all, thank you very much for the very warm welcome I got here at the Bucharest Emergency University Hospital. The largest hospital in Romania, as far as I learnt. And I really want to commend and applaud the medical staff: the doctors, the nurses, the healthcare workers. I was really impressed with what you presented to me. And it was amazing to see, not only your professionalism but also the dedication you show and the motivation you show. And for me, it was also impressing to see what you have already achieved but also the enormous plans of innovation and investment that are ahead of you. So we owe you very much for all the work you are doing. Thank you very much for that. And I am very glad that NextGenerationEU is able to power some of your ideas in the right direction. So thank you so much for that visit here.

Indeed NextGenerationEU is reshaping our continent for future generations. And as you know, it is worth EUR 800 billion in today's prices. It is one of the largest recovery plans, worldwide, that exist. And it is the recovery that Europe and Romania need, now and for the future.

Indeed, today, the European Commission is giving its green light to the Romanian recovery and resilience plan. It follows a thorough assessment and a very good cooperation. And I really want to congratulate you for that and thank you for the excellent cooperation over the past weeks and months.

There are three main pillars that have already been mentioned. First is, the Romanian plan will help us reach the objectives of the European Green Deal. 41% of the plan's budget support green, sustainable investments. And it includes significant investments, for example in sustainable transport, with almost EUR 4.5 billion for modern railway and metro infrastructure. And indeed, we will also soon see, not only the roads, but also the charging points for electric cars deployed everywhere in the country, for clean road transport.

Then we will have more than half a billion euro invested in clean energy production. And indeed, for us is important, together in this plan, doing this green transformation, working on this green transformation, to leave nobody behind. Together, we are developing renewable energy and green hydrogen. And this, overall, is great news for the Romanians because it means cleaner air in the country and protection of nature.

The second big pillar is devoted to the digital transition - 21%. And we had an example here in the hospital too, the future is digital and we could look into what the future will bring, for example on the imaging sector in the medical domain. This plan will make public services much more accessible and much more efficient for the Romanian people because it will digitise the administration. There will be a new government cloud, and electronic ID cards, for example. It will connect the country, which is also so important. It is a wide and large country, so it is so important to connect everybody with the expansion of high-speed internet. And of course, it will also help Romanian schools to go digital. The plan's name is NextGenerationEU, so we should really - and you do that - invest in the next generation.

And finally, I am very glad, as a third pillar, that you chose to invest in a stronger healthcare system. Here too, digitalisation makes the quality of healthcare available remotely, so wherever you are in the country. e-Health is the key for access to very good high-quality medicine, you know it. And I am glad that your plan foresees almost EUR 2 billion of investments for modern hospitals, including here the Bucharest Emergency University Hospital.

To conclude, the Romanian plan meets the very demanding criteria we have, jointly with the Council, established. It combines on one hand the investment in the green and the digital transition, and it addresses the reforms that are necessary to address Romania's structural challenges. For example, to put public finances on a sound footing, you invest in a pension reform and a digital tax administration. And I really commend you for working on the minimum inclusion income - very important here too - to support the most vulnerable people and the low-income households. And I very much like, if I look at the whole set of reforms, that you are also reforming your education system. The next generation definitely deserves it.

So, our approval today is an important milestone towards the disbursement of more than EUR 29 billion, which is more than 10% of the GDP, over the next years. And I want to emphasize that it is good news to be here today, but by no means is this the end of the journey. But in some ways, the hard work begins now, because now it is about implementing and delivering the plan. And here, one word on absorption. We all know, and we have discussed that together, that timely selection, planning and implementation of projects will be crucial. Time is really of the essence because we have three years to really deliver. I am very confident that you will be able to build on the experience of the past programming periods. And I want you to know that I will stand with you every single step on the way forward, ensuring that the money is spent in line with what we have agreed.

NextGenerationEU is there to rebuild a robust economy, everywhere in the European Union - a healthy and strong economy. And that is first and foremost built on trust. Trust that makes business and investments thrive. So I am very glad. And you described it, the many reforms you are addressing now, this is of enormous importance to strengthen the capacity of your institutions and to really strengthen the economy of your country. So together, I think we can make this outstanding plan a big success.

Thank you very much again. And now, I have the pleasure to hand over to you the approval of the work that you have achieved. Congratulations on that.


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