Hung out to dry. Romanian farmers accuse gov’t of greenwashing over EU recovery funds

Foto: INQUAM/George Călin

Romanian farmers have accused the government of greenwashing.

They are angry that Bucharest hasn’t managed to get funding for outdated irrigation systems from the country’s EU Recovery Plan.

European money

Agriculture Minister Adrian Oros responded on Friday saying that the plans submitted were good and necessary. However, he claimed they weren’t eligible for the European money because hey weren’t “green enough” Digi24 reported.

The EU Recovery Fund agreed in July 2020 is legislated to fulfill the bloc’s ambition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Some 37% of the plan’s spending is earmarked to help meet that goal.

Romanian farmers rejected the minister’s arguments. They  accused him of failing to present the project to Brussels properly.

Drought

They say agriculture has suffered due to a prolonged drought which has lasted several years.

The minister agreed irrigation systems need investment. He said the money would come from the state budget or other sources.

„Certainly we will have to allocate money from the state budget…. serious amounts… at a faster pace than before” he said.

He said the government had a water management strategy which had been sent to the European Commission in November 2020.

Green energy

“It had new, digitized technological solutions, used environmentally friendly materials and could produce green and cheap energy.”

“We have 9,600 kilometers of (irrigation) channels. Some said we had outdated solutions, but we have to work with what we have. What were we supposed to do with these channels?”

The minister said Romania’s water management strategy was “green.”

Irrigation

“Romania had by far the greenest national resilience program which included irrigation works, drainage, combating soil erosion, desertification prevention and  anti-hail nets, ” Mr. Oros said.

Farmers in the Constanța county in eastern Romania  and Mehedinți in the southwest told Digi24 they felt they’d been “tricked” because they were constantly promised that the irrigation system would be rebuilt with funds from the pandemic relief fund.

Farmers said that irrigation could be financed if it was linked to renewable energy.

Incompetence

They claimed the project was badly presented and this shows “the incompetence of the ministry and, implicitly, of the minister.”

The Next Generation EU fund is a EU recovery package to support member states hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is worth 750 billion euros.

Romania submitted its plans this week. It stands to get more than 29 billion euros.

„We’ve had just empty words in the past 30 years,” the farmers said. “In 2020, almost 100% of southeast Romania was affected by the drought.”

“It’s absolutely necessary to be well prepared” when you go to Brussels.”That’s why we haven’t received money, because they were unprepared.”

Drought hits 1.1 million hectares in Romania, risking stress on grain supplies-agriculture minister

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