Blue Deal Romania visits the Netherlands for Economic Mechanism project

In the third week of May, the Economic Mechanism project group from the Blue Deal partnership Romania was welcomed to the beautiful city of Leiden.

Host of the 2024 session in the Netherlands was the Dutch water authority Rijnland. Especially for the occasion, Rijnland facilitated their meeting facilities in the city centre of Leiden, in a building, which is hundreds of years old. A place that breathes history, which was very much appreciated by both the Dutch and the Romanian delegation.

Finances and asset management

After the action points of last meeting in Targu Mures had been discussed, the programme for the week really kicked off with a presentation by Hans Nederend from the Dutch water authority Rijnland. Mister Nederend elaborated on the financing of investments and how capital costs are covered from the annual budget. Following, asset manager Koen Mooij from Rijnland, gave a presentation on asset management and how this is used within the water authority Rijnland.

Project with the World Bank

One of the main topics in each meeting of the Economic Mechanism Romania group is a project the Romanian water authority (NARW) has with the World Bank. The goal of this project is to achieve sustainable financing of the economic mechanism in Romania. This means that the income of NARW is to be improved by 20 percent by imposing a higher levy. Mirela Ciucur, Head of NARW Economic Mechanism, gave an update on the progress of the project during the meeting. After working several years with the World Bank, an advice from the World Bank is now completed. In the advice, 4 scenarios have been prepared. 1 or 2 of the presented options are to be chosen by NARW in order to implement in the economic mechanism. In July of this year, a meeting between the World Bank and the European Commission on the bill will take place. In September of this year, the approval of the new law for improving the economic mechanism is scheduled.

Visit to the NWB Bank

The first day of meetings ended with one of the highlights of the week, which was a visit to the NWB Bank in the Hague, the bank voor the Dutch water authorities. Even for the Dutch participants this visit proved to be an eye-opener. Although being familiar with the bank, most participants underestimated the magnitude of NWB. A nice presentation was given by NWB and there was plenty of time for all relevant questions to be asked.

Stakeholder management through Golden Circle Theory

The second day kicked off with an interactive session, guided by Marcel de Ruijter, a Dutch member of the Blue Deal team for Romania. The session was about stakeholder management, which is a crucial subject for getting the World Bank advice approved. The session was based on the so called ‘Golden Circle Theory’. A number of questions had to be answered by all the participants, after which the outcomes were shared and discussed among the group. For NARW, it is crucial to approach stakeholders such as the Ministry of Finance, Environment, and associations of municipalities.

AI in water management

After the session on stakeholder management, the Romanian delegation had arranged an online presentation on AI-powered automation in water management. George Roth and Andrej Nagy (external consultants responsible for AI in the public sector in Romania) gave a presentation on AI based on ‘The UIPath Platform where automation turns AI’s promise into real-world impact’. After the presentation, it was agreed upon that a practical example is to be worked on for the next work visit.

The use of KPI’s to monitor and improve performance

The next work visit is to take place in October 2024 in Timisoara, Romania. As a teaser for this visit, a presentation on the involved water authority (Banat) was given by Veronica Caxi (Economic Director at Banat). During the next work visit, we will discuss the use of KPI’s in order to monitor and improve performance. During our last meeting in Leiden, we also talked about this topic. For this meeting, a group of 4 experts from the World Bank joined online.

Apart from the various presentations and discussions, there were also a number of field trips, among which a fantastic guided boat trip from the municipality Katwijk to Leiden with its various canals. Altogether, the participants look back on what was again a fruitful and inspiring week.