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Tuesday, 11 July

Prime Minister Mihai Tudose's visit to Brussels

Prime Minister Mihai Tudose: We will communicate in real time, to promote Romania's image as reliable and predictible partner in the EU

 

Prime Minister Mihai Tudose discussed Tuesday at Brussels with senior EU officials about Romania’s priorities, establishing for the next period, the framework for a very close cooperation between the Government and the European Commission, in order to promote Romania's image as a country with financial, fiscal and legislative stability and a reliable partner in the European Union.

The Head of the Executive announced a series of concrete results following his talks with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, and European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu.

At least once a month, all Ministers involved in European projects will come to Brussels, there will be periodic contacts at the level of the European Commission and the European Council, so that we benefit from real time communication, and the measures implemented by the Government to be perceived in Brussels in accordance with reality in Romania.

“I assured the interlocutors of the monetary –financial stability –first of all, compliance with the assumed deficit target of 3 percent. Also, we enter the legislative credibility and stability area, stemming from a long and deep consultation with all factors involved” stated Prime Minister Mihai Tudose.

A concrete result of the talks that the Romanian delegation had in Brussels is unblocking EUR 600 million, European money, following the recovery of last year’s delays which blocked the validation of managing authorities.

Prime Minister Mihai Tudose discussed with European officials about unblocking European funds, based on project, for three regional hospitals.

“In this respect, we are awaiting EIB projects until September, our commitment is that as of September until the close of the year, we finish the public procurement procedures, so that works start effectively as of next year” stated Prime Minister.

In connection with the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, the European leaders are pleased with the progress achieved to date. “We are on the right track. The essential condition is that we maintain the direction and pace we have” added the Head of the Executive.

As regards preparedness for accession to Schengen, senior European officials agreed that from the technical viewpoint, things are almost completed, what remains to be done relates more to economic area. “We hope that in maximum two years, until we are taking over the EU Council presidency, things are solved also from this point of view” stated Prime Minister Mihai Tudose.

Regarding the EU neighborhood policy, the parties agreed on the need to jointly support the Republic of Moldova to maintain its pro-European path.

Other topic tackled during the meetings aimed at preparing the first mandate of Romania as President of the European Union Council, being evoked the idea of continuity of the large projects on the European agenda.

 

Press statements by Prime Minister Mihai Tudose at Brussels

 

Mihai Tudose: We have had a very full day, but very important one. We established some very clear things with the European Commission, with the European Council, especially with President Juncker, about what means today’s Romania and what Romania wants to be as of tomorrow: Romania, as member state, a strong state, a strong partner for everything that means EU challenges. Also, a very good collaboration between the Romanian Government and the European Commissioners. Thus, at least once a month, all Ministers involved in European projects will come to Brussels, will speak with the Commissioners, we will have regular contacts at the level of Council and Commission so that what we are doing in Romania, does not arrive distorted in Brussels, and there are no major differences between reality and perception. Also, on this occasion too, let us try to benefit from the experience accumulated at the EU level, as there are states with a more extensive experience in what we are trying to do now. On the other hand, the good news is that through the efforts of the entire delegation – it is not only me in Brussels, there are Ministers as well, Minister Rovana Plumb, Finance Minister Ionut Misa, who is at ECOFIN, Minister Victor Negrescu, this week, EUR 600 million were released through those famous managing authorities that start to be validated. It is a first good sign. This delay is not due to what happened this year, but simply, from January 1st, we are trying to disentangle and implement these things after the 2016 government that had zero funds absorption, as you all know, and we did not find any managing authority functional. I assured my interlocutors of monetary –financial stability, first of all, the assumed deficit target of 3 percent, MTO also, we are entering on the credibility, stability and predictability on everything meaning laws, from the ones that are very important and stir a lot of interest, that are on the CVM agenda — where we have promises that until taking over the presidency [of the Council of the EU] in 2019 things will end, obviously, if we continue to follow the course, which is appreciated. In this respect, I established with both Mr. Juncker and with the first vice-president Timmermans a working modality to comunicate in real time, about the progress achieved to date. Our Minister of Justice will come to Brussels to explain what is happening now.

What it's basically wanted from Romania is this type of public communication, a communication in real time with the Commission and everything that we do, be based on a long and profound consultation with all the actors involved, from the civil society to the justice's internal control bodies. Under no circumstances, there will be sideslips, such as surprises within the Government. We will pursue a predictable track involving the Parliament and the general consultation. These were to a great extent. Obviously, we talked about the cohesion plicy, funds for agriculture. I talked with Commissioner Corina Cretu whom I thank on this occasion, she has been a great support for Romania. I talked about other requests that Romania may have and funds which can be earmarked, only based on projects, not on wishes, words, illusions and we have all his support, going up to the identification of a solution for us to get out of infringement territory for detention conditions, for us to find a solution to build a penitentiary on European funds, and then, having this buffer, to be able to move the inmates from other penitentiaries, to refurbish the others too, also on European funds. We also discussed about unblocking funds, but based on project, for the three regional hospitals. In this respect, we are awaiting EIB projects until September, our commitment is that as of September until the end of the year, we finish the public procurement procedures, so that works start effectively as of next year. The neighborhood policy – support for Molova, both from Commission and the Council, is very important. We do not have to forget that we are an important country of the EU, but we are at the EU border, and we have a huge task both from the point of view of ensuring the pro-European path of Moldova, but also from the point of view of everything that means Schengen, other objective attained, we hope that together with Bulgaria, in maximum two years, until we take over the presidency, things will be solved. In connection with Schengen, the interlocutors agreed that technically, things are almost ready, if not completely ready, being more a political and competition issue that things headed more towards the economic area. But we trust that we can overcome this moment too. 

Reporter; Mr. Prime Minister, regarding the MCV, did you receive any assurance from the European leaders that we will get rid of this mechanism?

Mihai Tudose: Yes. The European leaders are pleased with what has happened so far. We are on the right track. The essential condition is that we maintain the direction and pace we have. I told you and I repeat it, Mr Minister of Justice will come to Brussels to explain exactly, both to President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans, what he is currently doing.

Reporter: Have you received explanations about an agenda or assessement conducted at DNA? Has the DNA topic been addressed during these meetings?   

Mihai Tudose: No, no.

Reporter: ..and the scandals.

Mihai Tudose:There was nothing of the kind. We have discussed about the CVM, about the predictability of the act of justice and the citizen's access to justice, and, obviously, about the freedom of justice.

Reporter: Including about amending the Criminal Codes, to introduce a threshold for the abuse of office?

Mihai Tudose: We have talked about everything that means the inclusion in the Criminal Code and all that means setting the legislation in accordance with the Constitutional Court’s decisions. But, I repeat we make all the amendments that Minister Toader will introduce or propose, they will be those which, on the one hand, are imposed by the Constitutional Court and, on the other hand, are very, very well discussed and negotiated with the civil society and with all the actors of the justice system.

Reporter: /.../

Reporter: And European Commission has expressed its concern that the 3 percent threshold may be exceeded, and is further concerned by one of the changes that were announced when you took over your tenure? Have you discussed this with the European Commission?

Mihai Tudose: I have very firmly reiterated again that we will not introduce the additional tax on business turnovers; that we are predictable as far as our financial and tax system is concerned, and that all our simulations so far and our expectations point to us keeping within a 3-percent deficit target.

Mihai Tudose: After yesterday’s conversation, I had a meeting with the Finance Minister Ionut Misa. It has become clearer that the tax as its stands cannot be introduced. I addressed with President Juncker a 2016 European direction stipulating inter alia, a joint effort of European states towards transparency and interconnectivity in relation to financial information about multinationals or companies that externalise their profits, thus leading to an artificial shrinkage of the tax base. It is a very important directive, and we have to somehow implement it. The principle here is that every business operator should pay taxes where they derive profits. What we have talked a bit earlier is a bit off -topic because they no longer externalise profit, as they are simply hiding it outside the European Union. He agreed with us that we need to find mechanisms here, but we will not implement anything of the kind that would solve one case and perhaps spoil the good operation of honest companies.

Reporter: What is happening with the solidarity tax?

Mihai Tudose: There, simulations have not been completed.

Reporter: On European funds, Minister Rovana Plumb made some statements, the target for this year amounted to EUR 5, 2 billion, if I remember it well...

Mihai Tudose: Yes.

Reporter: On the programme for Government, the new programme for Government assumed by Tudose Cabinet, there is an amendment to this target, as we are in mid-year, some of the managing authorities started to be accredited, therefore, not all?

Mihai Tudose: (...) we are starting with some of them...

Reporter: Which of them?

Mihai Tudose: We hope that they will be, and this is the target assumed by us and Madam Minister that by August 1st, all of them are authorized and we start drawing all the available funds. There is no danger to lose amounts which were relocated, as we have more projects than the amounts that were in danger to be lost. Therefore, we will draw everything from those accounts. If in the meantime, following the discussion with Commissioner Cretu, we will find other projects too to comply with other chapters, other opportunities, perhaps we will go beyond our target.

Reporter; Have you also discussed about Romania’s Presidency of the EU?

Mihai Tudose: It was a common topic for all meetings. It is very important because the Romanian Presidency should not take the EU on other path than the present one. Minister Victor Negrescu is very involved, has the expertise of the European Parliament and he will cooperate very well, as far as I understood, with President Tusk  and First Vice President Timmermans, to ensure continuity with respect to large European projects, starting with social cohesion and...

Yes.

Reporter: Will there be a report on CVM in November?

Mihai Tudose: It will be a verbal report this very month, and in November, the written report.

Reporter: Do we have a to do list?

Mihai Tudose: No.

Reporter:  What do you mean by a verbal one?

Mihai Tudose: A first statement on the progress in fulfilling the CVM obligations.

Reporter; Now, in July?

Mihai Tudose: Now, in July.

Reporter: From the Commission to whom?

Mihai Tudose: To the public.

Reporter: From the Commission to the Member States?

Mihai Tudose: To member states.

Reporter: Which is your stand on Romania’s accession to the Eurozone?

Miahi Tudose: It is a commitment Romania undertook once with EU accession. The monetary union is part of integration. We are on track, but we still have work to do on convergence, a lot of work to do on convergence.

Reporter: Is there an estimated deadline or one you will set out as target?

Mihai Tudose: We have not set out a deadline. As soon as possible, but we do not want to burn certain stages, because afterwards, this does much harm than good.

Reporter: In connection with Pension Pillar II, that analysis that both you and Labour Minister spoke about. What concerns you with respect to that pillar that made you ask this analysis of the calculation formula?

Mihai Tudose: I have not asked any analysis on any calculation form.

Reporter: Minister Vasilescu asked it.

Mihai Tudose: Minister Vasilescu asked it. When we return to Bucharest, we will ask her.  She explained us that she wanted to see how the money in Pillar II is spent and is maintained or what costs involved. Only to be informed. Under no circumstance, Pension Pillar II is to be nationalized. It isn’t possible.

Reporter: In connection with the aggregate income tax, do you consider scrapping the Statement of Assets?

Mihai Tudose: These are in one package. You cannot have a tax on household, on everything you own, without declaring first your assets. You simply cannot. Therefore, they are interrelated.

Reporter: Will the Government meet the 2 percent target for defence, Prime Minister?

Mihai Tudose: It would be hilarious to include 2 percent in the budget and not spend it. It’s not possible. It is as if you invited me at the press conference and I would come and say nothing. 2 percent was not a commitment just to simply earmark, 2 percent is a commitment with the strategic partners to spend 2 percent. This is why we have to include it, in order to spend it. Obviously, we will have to spend it. It’s not that we must, but we need this .

Reporter: Therefore, there are resources to reach 2 percent.

Mihai Tudose: It is not a question of resources. Thank God, there is money to spend and opportunities ! I expect from the National Defence Ministry, the General Staff to find an integrated solution about military solutions.

Reporter: As my colleague asked about the Declaration of Assets, do you intend to scrap the income tax too, not the turnover tax?

Mihai Tudose: As far as the aggregate personal income tax declaration is concerned, which includes the asset declaration as well, it will be the end destination. When and how we can apply it, is complicated. It has to be well prepared in technical terms and in terms of acceptance, so that people understand what we are doing and why. I doubt such declaration will be in use in 2018. This is no scare, but a good thing for the citizens, with predictibility, with everything  in terms of stability and tax coherence, I repeat, it is a good thing. It is difficult to implement it now because we do not have the required infrastructure and people have not figured out yet what this is all about. We need to work to prepare it both technically and in terms of acceptance among population, with your support too. Thank you. 

***

Prime Minister Mihai Tudose will have tomorrow, in Brussels, meetings with senior European officials, during his first visit abroad as Head of the Executive. The priorities of the current Government will be presented, with a focus on the economic topics, as well as Romania's stand on EU's future, the preparedness for taking over the Council of the EU presidency and improvement of the EU funds absorption.

The Romanian Prime Minister will have meetings with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, and European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu.

„It is my first visit to Brussels as Prime Minister, a thoroughly prepared visit from a technical viewpoint. I want to convey the message that Romania is a serious partner in the European Union, which will observe all its assumed commitments. We want a very good collaboration in relation with the European Union, as we committed through the Programme for Government too. We are prepared to enhance the quality of Romania’s presence at the level of European institutions and to contribute to strengthening the European project, including in terms of the responsibility we will assume in the first semester of 2019, in the first Romanian mandate as President of the EU Council” stated Prime Minister Mihai Tudose.

The delegation headed by the Prime Minister also includes Minister-delegate for European Affairs Victor Negrescu.

***

 

Schedule of PM Mihai Tudose’s visit to Brussels, July 11, 2017

 

1:30 pm Meeting with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk

(Photo/ video opportunities -officials)

3:00 pm Meeting with the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans

4:00 pm Meeting with Corina Cretu, European Commissioner for regional policy

(Photo/ video opportunities - officials)

4:45 pm Press statements

(Permanent Representation of Romania to the European Union)

6:00 pm. Meeting with the European Parliament President Antonio Tajani

(Photo/ video opportunities for the accredited press)

Note: The hour of events is the local hour. 



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