How will the new Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 look like?

The National Programme for Rural Development (PNDR) 2014-2020 will have a smaller number of measures than the previous one, and accessing them will be easier, as promised by Nicolae Popa, deputy director of APDRP paying agency. The new PNDR should be finished by the end of this year and it should be better than the previous one, given that one must learn from the mistakes and dissatisfactions of the past years.

The money should be directed on less measures, if the old PNDR had 25 of them, the new one is intended to have no more than 6-7 measures, Popa said. Some of them will be maintained from the old one, such as: Measure 112, from Axis I - Setting up young farmers; Measure 121 - modernization of agricultural holdings; measure 123 - adding value to agricultural and forestry products; sub-measure 125a, component 1 - irrigation and other land improvement works; measure 141 - supporting semi-subsistence agricultural holdings, in a modified version.

For measure 112, it is aimed at granting 70.000 euro per each young farm manager in order to stimulate the interest in rural areas.
On measure 121, besides improving the performace of big farms, we shall support also the development of family farms; the conditions for them stay the same, and we try to support more livestock farming.
Measure 123 will be targeted as becoming more efficient: we shall make an inventory of the abattoirs and milk processing plants, to see if there are too many in some counties, because there was no fair division of them nationwide.
On measure 125, some 60 million euro above the budget for PNDR 2007-2013 were granted for 60 more projects.

Regarding Axis III, measure 312 will be kept: support for the creation and development of micro-enterprises; plus measure 313 - encouraging touristic activities - and measure 322 - village renewal and development.
On Axis IV - LEADER; LAGs should be given a special attention because they will act as mini-agencies and cover the needs of European funds. In the coming years they will ensure the conformity, to make the evaluations and the contracting. And us, as agencies, will make only the payments, Popa concluded.

APDRP is currently in the stage of first draft of the social-economic assessment for the new PNDR. The draft is to be finalized by the end of June so that discussions on it can start. We will stay in touch with the EU and we will talk to all associations of producers, trade unions, employers' unions etc. We'll have 6 working groups on different sectors: agriculture and food industry, environment, economic development in rural area, innovation and professional training - which is a new measure, LEADER, fisheries and aquaculture. The working groups will include APDRP experts but also experts from other agencies. Everything should be feasible from the beginning because the new PNDR can suffer only two changes, after in the previous one 28 changes were made in order to fix whatever was blocked or not working properly.

Popa says one big problems consists in the high number of projects, that leads to the dissatisfaction of beneficiaries. Some waited up to 1 year for an evaluation that should have last 2-3 months. In the first PNDR we had 8,1 billion euro allotted, but filed projects amounting 18 billion euro. For the coming PNDR we want to have an annual or bi-annual call for proposals, with amount granted per each year, to have a 20% money correction and when we reach 120% to say the money is finished, and those interested to come again the year after.

Popa says also that at the level of each agency, a unique office will be created for all the representatives of the bodies who give authorizations and approvals for projects, so that efficiency is increased, on the model of the Trade Registry. Therefore, people can have in 2-3 weeks maximum all the necessary documents. APDPR also targets the simplification of the procedures for accessing funds.

Referring to the tender for the new PNDR, Popa said that anyone could have participated, but now they are at the stage of assessing the offers. By the end of June, there should be a winning bidder, with a contract to be followed in each phase, so that we can start at the end of 2013 the discussions with the EU on the new PNDR and at the end of 2014 to have the call for proposals starting.

In case the new PNDR will be done by a foreign company, this should be seen as a benefit, not as a disadvantage, given the international experience of some firms. By making strategies in other states they only have an increased reputation and professionalism. Plus the experience of the negotiations with Brussels which are tough. So far, we had 5 companies who filed for the tender, and there are 3 still left in the competition. We have a few more stages until we decide the winner. The experts from these companies are in majority Romanians, only 30% foreigners.

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