A large part of the EUR 1.1 billion that the EU has earmarked for nature and Environmental Protection and poverty reduction in the Romanian Danube Delta has disappeared into the pockets of Romanian politicians, businessmen and NGOs.
Between 2014 and 2020, the European Commission pumped € 1.1 billion into the Danube Delta, a Romanian nature reserve that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The grant was intended to create jobs, protect cultural heritage and protect the environment by, among other things, promoting sustainable fishing.
But most fishermen are still living in poverty. But seven of the nearly 1200 projects financed are said to have something to do with environmental protection. Moreover, three quarters of the money would have gone to projects outside the district. A network of Romanian politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats and NGOs has used the money to finance their own projects or companies.
The EU paid out the money through the special ITI mechanism. Municipalities, provinces and NGOs then have a lot of control over where the money ends up. The reasoning is that local parties know the needs of their area best. However, in countries where government functions less well, this can lead to corruption.
The European Commission informed that the Romanian government is responsible for the distribution of the money and supervision.