Vice President McDowell,
Secretary of State Gyorgy Attila,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me and the Board of Directors to welcome you to the National Bank of Romania, to the conference dedicated to investment and investment finance in Romania. This conference was organized by the European Investment Bank in partnership with the National Bank of Romania. In fact, this partnership has long been a pillar of progress and investment in Romania.
Allow me to welcome and warmly thank Mr. Andrew McDowell, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank and Ms. Debora Revoltella, Chief Economist of the European Investment Bank, for their continued support and deep commitment to develop investments in Romania, and, moreover, to be trusted partners and friends.
I am happy that we have decided to co-host this conference here in Romania, at the central bank, because this year we are honoring two historic milestones. One is the 140th anniversary of the National Bank of Romania and the other is the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the day (February 15, 2000) when the EU officially started accession negotiations with Romania. I remember that moment very well, as it happened during my tenure as Prime Minister of Romania.
As a veteran, in office since 1990, I am fully aware of the extent to which Romania has benefited from the strong support provided by the European Investment Bank. The projects financed by the EIB have proven to be a catalyst for development, with a multiplier effect in all economic sectors.
Nevertheless, Romania continues to need (i) to develop solid growth strategies based on investments and (ii) to fulfill development priorities in infrastructure, healthcare and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) , as well as (iii) strengthen cohesion with other EU Member States.
The future will certainly bring challenges as well as opportunities. One opportunity, according to the European Investment Bank’s latest flagship investment report, is the current low interest rate environment, which could support the acceleration of lending and investment. There is sufficient room to increase public investment in areas such as smart infrastructure, digital technology and education. Fairly new topics like the digital economy and FinTech, as well as the risks of climate change and green finance are gaining ground and importance on everyone’s agenda, with the potential to change the allocation of capital. and contribute to new investments.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to stress the importance of the EU structural and cohesion funds for Romania and stress the need for new foreign direct investment.
Since joining the EU until 2018, Romania has accessed more than â¬ 21 billion in EU funds which have contributed to development and closed the convergence gap with the developed economies of the EU.
Recent NBR research on the impact of EU funds on the Romanian economy shows that an increase of 1 percentage point in the GDP of structural and cohesion funds has a short-term effect of up to 0 , 7 percentage points on economic growth and a medium-term effect of up to 3 percentage points.
Thus, significant efforts should be made to ensure that Romania improves the efficiency of the absorption of EU funds. To achieve this, Romania needs sound policies geared towards macroeconomic balance and the preservation of financial stability.
Foreign direct investment is also essential for economic growth. The picture here is mixed. In the second half of 2018 and into 2019, persistent pressures on global economic growth and subsequent downward revisions to the expected growth rate impacted investment and capital reallocation. Constant trade tensions, terrorism and geopolitical uncertainties are slowing economies across the world. At the same time, new technologies have disrupted global value chains and the classic employment model, while new climate change risks have emerged in the financial sector. On the other hand, investing in companies with strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies, in green bonds and in new technologies supporting the digital economy, will help achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and a sustainable development.
The European Commission and the European Investment Fund (part of the European Investment Bank group) have launched the âBlueInvest Fundâ available for âblueâ economic activities. The funds are intended for companies that develop solutions for renewable energies and âblueâ biotechnology, among others.
I will end my brief opening speech on a special, more personal note.
Dear Mr McDowell, this summer you will complete your term as Vice-President of the European Investment Bank. On behalf of the Board of Directors of the National Bank of Romania, allow me to express to you our most gratitude and best regards for your activity during your tenure. Please accept the expression of your sincere appreciation for your commitment, dedication and leadership, which has led to remarkable results in investments in the Romanian economy. We wish you the best possible results for all your future endeavors.
I now invite Gyorgy Attila, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Public Finance to take the floor.