Fresh News

Wednesday, 21 February

Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă met with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker

Joint press briefing by Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă,  European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Commissioner Corina Crețu


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Jean –Claude Juncker:

Ladies and gentlemen,

Madam Prime Minister,

I was very pleased and glad that the new Prime Minister of Romania came to my office, as I know her very well, Madam Prime Minister was a member of the European Parliament for nine years, together with Corina Cretu. Therefore, Europe holds no kind of secret for the Romanian Prime Minister. She is the fifth Prime Minister I welcome here during my  tenure, and let’s hope this cycle stops and she’ll stay longer in office, because I have started to lose track of all those I've seen. Mr. Iohannis was here, 15 days ago, he is a pro-European President, so is the Prime Minister, so is Corina Cretu. I evoked the outlook of the Romanian Presidency in the first half of 2019, when everything is to culminate with the Summit in Sibiu, as I suggested my colleagues in the European Council to hold this summit in Sibiu. Let us hope that on this occasion, we will be able to finalize or almost finalize the debates on the financial perspectives, a very important dossier for our friends in Romania. Therefore, we should be able to determine the most important lines of the financial perspectives, the MFF, before June 2019, as the programs implemented following the adoption of financial perspectives should be ready on January 1, 2020. At least as regards the cohesion policy, we have 100,000 projects which should be backed –from the political and administrative as well as financial points of view. Therefore, the future Romanian presidency has a very big responsibility ahead in this respect. I once again told the Prime Minister that I’m convinced the MCV on Romania and Bulgaria should be lifted, terminated before the end of this Commission’s mandate, and as I told my friend here, Romania’s place is clearly within the Schengen Area. There is no reason to exclude  Romania out of these citizens’ ambitions that have to do with the Schengen Area.

I briefly evoked the Juncker Plan implementation in Romania, which gives me reasons of joy because Romania managed to make investments worth 1, 9 billions  through the use of the Juncker Plan FC, the Cohesion policy funds. Therefore, things are running well. Nevertheless, sometimes we may have the impression that certain political means in Romania want to take some liberties in terms of strict enforcement and observance of the rule of law regulations. I talked this with Madam Prime Minister too, and I hold the firm belief that all efforts shall be made for the judicial system to function. We hope it will not be subject to tests. Corina, you have the floor.

Corina Cretu: Prime Minister, I am glad to be with you today, alongside Mr. President, and I would like to congratulate you once again for the fact that you assumed this responsibility of leading the Romanian Cabinet and for the fact that you are the first woman invested as Prime Minister after the December 1989 Revolution. As regards the regional policy portfolio, we had a very applied discussion yesterday. I informed Mr. President today about the performance in the previous financial exercise and the fact that we are working together to unblock the projects for the current financial exercise.

I also spoke about the post 2020 future financial framework, about the way Romania will relate to all these, even before assuming the presidency of the Council of the EU next year, and I express my full confidence that the new Cabinet will do whatever is necessary to achieve performance in the EU funds absorption and as regards the manner Romania will hold the next year’s presidency of the Council of the EU. From our point of view, as President Juncker said from the European Commission’s point of view, we will have a good relation and cooperation. Thank you very much!

Viorica Dancila: Thank you! I would like to thank President Juncker, to thank Corina Cretu for the openness and friendship shown, for their encouragement and for the fact that they declared and constantly supported the European path that Romania must have. As I pledged, the European dimension will be important for Romania, for the Romanian Government, and we will make every effort to have a fair, transparent cooperation with the European institutions, with the President of the European Commission respectively. As the President highlighted, we discussed about Romania’s taking over the presidency of the Council of the EU on January 1, 2019, about the challenges Romania must address, and especially, about what we intend to achieve during this presidency. We talked about the Multiannual Financial Framework, about the fact that we want to conclude a political agreement during Romania’s presidency of the Council of the EU, we talked about supporting the cohesion policy and the common agricultural policy, very important for Romania, we talked about the President’s participation in the Sibiu Summit, which should give a signal regarding the European construction, and at the same time, I mentioned the fact that Romania’s European path is linked to President Juncker. He was President of the European Council when Romania expressed its wish to join the European Union, was Prime Minister of Luxembourg when, in 2005, Romania signed the Accession Treaty, and now, Mr. Juncker is the EC President when Romania holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union. We hope that during Mr Juncker’s Presidency we would be able to talk about Romania’s Schengen accession. Romania meets all conditions from the Commission’s standpoint. And, likewise, we hope the MCV would be lifted, because it’s not normal for Romania to take over the presidency with a sanction.

These were the topics discussed. From the Romanian Government’ standpoint, we will have a fair and transparent cooperation and of course, the EC President’s endorsement is very important for the Romanian Government, for Romania and the Romanians.

Reporter: Mr. President, I would like to ask you what were the precise talks on justice and the rule of law in Romania during the meeting that you had with Prime Minister Dăncilă and what assurances did you receive that there will be no slip-ups in order that the MCV can be lifted until the end of your tenure? And, with your permission, I would also like to ask the Prime Minister to answer this question.

Jean –Claude Juncker: We discussed the problems you referred to, in a very cordial manner. I told Prime Minister that they should, in certain Romanian milieus, avoid giving the impression abroad that the rule of law, on some of its components, is in jeopardy. I also told the Prime Minister, as I told the Romanian President that I fully trust the judiciary in Romania.

Issues exist in several countries of the EU regarding the strict enforcement of the rule of law's regulations, obviously I evoked this issue. I'm not necessarily very worried about the situation in Romania. I know that the Romanian President is dealing with this, too, keeps watch on it, I know that the judiciary is working and the Prime Minister is very keen on the rule of law regulations, on the rule of law, and so I have noticed everything that could be noticed.

Viorica Dancila: Yes, we discussed about it, and indeed I do believe in the freedom of the judiciary, I believe in the rule of law, and also in the fact that one must fight against corruption, and I told Mr. President Juncker, that when there is any doubt, we must talk punctually, not generally, to clarify or set things right what is unsatisfactory at European level. And I believe that this - a punctual good cooperation regarding the issues that are not satisfactory, and not generally, can only be beneficial both for Romania and for the briefing of the European institutions.

Reporter: I have a more precise question in that case addressed to the Prime Minister and the President. Laura Kovesi of the Anticorruption Directorate said that there is an assault and a slander to undermine her Agency, led by prominent politicians and businessmen in Romania.

I would like to get your comment on that, and also on the fears that the long –awaited Minister of Justice’s report on the Anticorruption Directorate due tomorrow could be the start of the process to topple Mr. Kovesi.

Viorica Dăncilă: This is a question I cannot answer. I think the judiciary must be independent. Let’s wait for the Justice Minister’s report. We have had no talks in connection with this aspect because I think nobody must intervene in the judiciary. I don’t know what will happen. We will see tomorrow, I understood that the Justice Minister will come up publicly with this report, and I think this is important. We must let the judiciary do its duty, and there must no interference, either political or from other points of view in the judicial process. I think this is the right way, and I equally think that what is happening now in Romania, the fact that nobody intervenes in the judiciary, this is a good thing.

I would like for all citizens of Romania, regardless of office, to observe the European directive that says that the presumption of innocence exists until final sentence. Justice is served by judges and I, as MEP for nine years, I voted this directive , and I want the European directives to be taken into account and enforced not only in Romania, but across the EU.

Jean-Claude Juncker: I have just said minutes ago, that we are watching very closely all the things which have to be looked at.

Reporter: Other question for both: the President and the Prime Minister. It’s about Marius Valcov, one of your close advisors. He has been convicted to 8 years in jail for allegations on corruption and money laundering, but he’s still an advisor, so, I would like to hear your explanation since you have said that you believe in justice and the justice system and also I would like to have an assessment from President Juncker since he said that he thinks the justice system is strong in Romania, so the Government should follow the justice system’s decisions. Thank you. 

Viorica Dăncilă: You used the term “close”, he is advisor to the Prime Minister, it is true. As far as I know, Mr Valcov’s sentence was not a final one, and I said that the presumption of innocence should exist until there is a final court ruling. There is a European Directive in this respect, and I only comply with a European directive which I, as a MEP, voted in the European Parliament. If there is a final decision in this case, I assure you that my attitude shall totally change.

Jean –Claude Juncker: The gentleman you are referring to, is not my Advisor.

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