On December 19th a lively Citizens' Dialogue with Commissioner Corina Crețu took place in the Academy of Economic Sciences (ASE) in the center of Bucharest, Romania. An audience of more than 150 people coming from all straits of life participated in the event and had the opportunity to ask the Commissioner about their concerns, fears and hopes about Romania and the European Union.
The Commissioner was warmly welcomed on stage and the discussion started with two very important questions from the public addressing the issue of EU funds and regional development. People were interested to know why the procedures accessing these funds and complex and how could young people take advantage of this funding for becoming entrepreneurs. The Commissioner acknowledged the fact that the procedures have been complex but there has been a strong effort to simplify them with her taking part in this initiative. As a result simplified procedures will be effective from 2018.
The audience was keen to learn about development efforts in the rural areas in Romania as it is an important issue in the context of Romania joining the European Union. The Commissioner stressed the fact that is important not to lose the link between urban and rural areas and commented on the plan for all Romanian rural areas to have Internet coverage by 2020 enabling young rural entrepreneurs starting their own business.
A question from the audience further challenged the effectiveness of these funds and how the European Commission assesses how these funds are used with the optimal result. The Commissioner explained that nothing is done chaotically and there is regular verification of how the funds are used.
The discussion continued with participants touching the issue of many Romanians forced to work and live abroad since the conditions in Romania are not so good. The Commissioner responded that Romania has not lost these people who are now able to move freely in Europe and decide where to go work and live. Romania also benefits through the support they provide to their families.
Health-care representatives addressed the Commissioner with the issue of funding health-care in Romania. The Commissioner acknowledged the big need for infrastructure and quality services in Romanian health-care and referred to the already successful efforts in renovating regional hospitals with the use of European funds.
As a concluding remark the Commissioner stressed the need for Member States to continue their efforts in obtaining regional funds as well as the needs for diversification of the criteria used for fund allocation.
This event in Bucharest was part of a series of Citizens' Dialogues that involve the whole European Commission and take place in all EU Member States.