, the leading online news source in Romania, and, the leading EU-specialized news source in the country, have launched a series of debates in a conference on Monday on the issue of how to spend structural funds Romania is due to receive in the coming years.

Today’s round table, with the participation of representatives of interested bodies, industries and the media, will continue on-line in special sections of the two websites.

The round table today was joined by representatives of the European Commission, of the Romanian Finance Ministry, of the banking and consulting sectors, of the EU fund management training sector, of possible beneficiaries and the media.

Charles White, communication official with the Regional Policy department of the European Commission, presented several key points in attracting funds for the development of Romanian regions. The structural and cohesion focus on two major directions:

1. regional competitiveness (50%)

- innovation and knowledge-based society;

- accessibility and risk prevention;

2. Jobs (50%)

- adaptation, modernization, anti-discrimination.

Charles White clarified the stage of the approval process for operational projects: We are between stage two and three of the programming and about to have operational programs ready for launch, he said.

The Brussels official said that in this period it often happens that submitted programs are sent back to national authorities because the European Commission plans to avoid possible flaws from the start, before the programs are launched, and not when they’re under way.

These are normal procedures: in Poland, programs were returned to national authorities several times, White said.

Razvan Cotovelea, head of the Management Authority of the Common Support Framework of the Romanian Finance Ministry, said that by the end of the quarter two operational programs would be approved. But he did not say which two these would be.

Cotovelea recalled the global objective of the operational programs: to reduce social and economic disparities between Romania and the EU (a supplementary growth of 15% of the GDP by 2015).

He also described the money Romania will benefit of: total structural cohesion funds for Romania amount to 19.7 billion euro for the period of 2007-2013, plus national co-funding (state budget, local budgets, private contributions) of 5.1 billion euro.

Another Brussels representative, this time from the private sector, was Dan Luca, head of Communication at EurActiv and representative of DL International. He said training was a key answer to the question of how to spend structural funds. Luca presented Brussels-based internships of three months to prepare for structural funds management.

The debate will continue online through the recently launched euROfonduri project launched by and with Raiffeisen Bank support. Questions can be addressed at the euROfonduri/ (Romanian version) and Finantare UE/ (in Romanian) and will be forwarded for answers to both authorities and partner consultants.

Sanda Christian, manager of the Raiffeisen Bank department for co-finance in partnership with international organizations, said on the occasion that this project is a new channel of communication that we opened exactly to make the Romanian business environment understand the importance of these funds and the means, steps to access them.