Statements by Prime Minister Viorica Dancila at the start of the Cabinet meeting

22 February

Viorica Dancila: Good afternoon, distinguished colleagues! As you know, on February 20 - 21, I had official meetings in Brussels with the European Commission President, Mr. Juncker, with the European Council President, Mr. Tusk and with the European Parliament President Mr. Antonio Tajani. I also had a meeting with the Commissioner for regional policy, Romanian Commissioner Corina Cretu. On this occasion, I expressed our determination to get actively involved in the debates on EU’s future, and also the fact that Romania must enter the Schengen Area and have the MCV lifted until January 1, 2019, when Romania takes the Presidency of the Council of the EU. We were given assurances regarding the European Council President’s endorsement of this demarche, along with that of EC President, Mr. Juncker who said that it is unfair for Romania given the fact that Romania meets all technical details to be in Schengen, but certain countries’ political decision makes this unachievable. We discussed about the cohesion policy, common agricultural policy, about the need to build a majority with countries sharing our opinion and that, like Romania, sustain that these two policies are vital and adjust to the existing reality in Romania. I want to assure you that we will take all necessary steps and we will be active in this demarche and that we were invited by the European Parliament President to deliver a speech in the plenum of the Strasbourg Parliament on Europe’s future. Therefore, this demonstrates that Romania’s opinion matters, considering that Europe’s future is shaped in the plenum of the Parliament by presidents of very powerful states and I think it is time we join this demarche too. We talked about European funds, the risk of de-commitment of some funds, and I refer here to POR (Regional Operational Programme) and POCU (Human Capital Operational Program), and next week, Minister Rovana Plumb, Minister of European Funds, will hold a discussion in this respect. Other item I want to bring to your attention is the recommendation that all Ministers attend the Brussels meetings in order to actively get involved in European agenda, and at the same time, we should not forget that the big European-level policies start to be shaped, which to us, poses a special interest and which can shape the future multiannual financial agreement or Romania’s future. We discussed Romania’s taking over of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, the fact that we have ambitious projects, and that we are on schedule with preparations, and Minister Victor Negrescu can confirm this, and also we have ambitious projects, such as Brexit management, or a political agreement regarding the multiannual financial agreement, and that this has the suport of the European leaders who pin all their hopes in us completing these demarches. I reiterated the fact that we have already held talks with Bulgaria and Austria, that we will see what dossiers the Bulgarian presidency does not close, and we can have a first picture of the dossiers we need to manage during the Romanian presidency. I think that Romania has a difficult mission, it must address very important challenges, but I am confident that the efforts of all of you, very good organization, logistics, as well as backing the projects within the European institutions will help us to carry this through. Several events will take place over the next period: an important event for us is the Informal European Summit to be held in Sibiu on May 9, 2019, which will shape the European strategic agenda for 2019 -2024. I think that cooperation between Parliament, Romanian President and the Government is required in order to attain this important objective for Romania, and for the entire Europe. I directly asked the support of the European Commission for achieving major projects through European funds and I want to mention here the fact that I agreed with the European Commissioner for Regional Policy to set up a working group for European funds, strongly supported by the Minister of European funds and for simplification too, both at domestic level, and at the level of the European Commission. This was Brussels’ visit agenda. We benefited from a big openess, we clarified a great deal of issues pending an answer from us and it is good that the European dimension the Romanian Government committeed to have, is appreciated in Brussels and I think this can be achievable. Last but not least, I want to announce you that in this context, next week, on February 27, I will pay an official visit to the Republic of Moldova.

I will be accompanied by the Ministers involved in the agenda of the Chisinau visit. Passing to today’s meeting agenda, a first emergency ordinance pertains to medical leaves. We will approve today an emergency ordinance which includes measures to keep the rights and allowances of public healthcare’s insured. Measures are transient, and are enforced until June 30, 2018, for insured on medical leave or who are about to enter medical leave during this period. I take this opportunity to reiterate the willingness for a discussion between the Finance Minister, the Justice Minister and of course, the Labor Minister, in order to prolong this transient period for mothers. I think it is an important thing and I believe new mothers in Romania would be glad if we could achieve this. Persons benefiting from medical leave for temporary work incapacity caused by common illnesses or work-non-related accidents, medical leave or childcare leave - I mentioned date- will have the same rights and the same level of allowance as until January 1, 2018. Practically, in the case where the transfer of the tax burden results in a reduction of the allowance , the due social security contributions are capped in order to keep the allowances at the level of payment before January 1, 2018. Another item on the agenda is the approval of the budget of the Environment Fund. Also today, as aforementioned, we will approve the 2018 revenue and expenditure budget  for the Environment Fund and Environmental Fund Management. It is the first time - and I would like to congratulate you for this - when it is approved on time, on February, which is an additional guarantee that the proposed environmental objectives will be funded and will be met as assumed under the programme for Government. Thus, a series of multiannual programs, already known, appreciated and wanted by citizens, such as the: „Rabla clasic” and „Rabla plus”( car scrappage programs) and „Casa Verde”(Green House) will successfully continue this year too. A series of programs adjusted for local communities will also be funded. Other item on the agenda is strengthening the policeman’s status. On today’s meeting, this draft law is aimed at amending some documents in the order and public safety field. It is a very important issue, because as we know, in any European state, education, healthcare and citizen’s safety are priority objectives. It is an important project for both policemen and citizens, it ensures an effective balance between policeman’s authority and citizen rights’ observance. The main objective is the clarification of policemen’s action procedures, which will lead to boosting citizens’ confidence in Police. I think that policemen need a legal framework to protect them, but at the same time, a higher authority over those who break the law and, of course, clear rules of action. There is also an item on the agenda regarding the extension of the validity of passports and their issuance terms. Because we want to remove passport queues, we will extend the validity of passports today through several amendments to Law 248/2005 on the regime of free movement of Romanian citizens abroad. The validity of single electronic passports will be extended to 10 years, compared to five years now, for people aged 25, and from three to five years for those aged 17-25. We will also modify the regulatory framework governing the issuance of temporary simple passport that may be issued in certain urgent situations due to several reasons: health, family or professional reasons, where the holder cannot wait out the normal time for the issuance of a simple electronic passport. For cases where a simple temporary passport is required for minors traveling abroad for studies or official competitions organized by foreign institutions, the requirement for the supporting documents to be endorsed by a Romanian administrative unit is removed. Persons who, for any reason, do not want a simple electronic passport(biometric), may request a temporary simple passport, but its issuance will require the same amount of time as the simple electronic passport. These are the main items on the agenda. Thanks to the press! At the close of the Cabinet  meeting, the Spokesperson will present in detail the normative acts of today's Cabinet meeting.

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