Fresh News

Tuesday, 15 January

Working visit of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council

Joint press conference by Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă and the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani

 

[Check against delivery]

Antonio Tajani: Good evening everybody. First of all, I want to underline the support of the European Parliament for the Romanian Presidency. As I said during my meeting with Prime Minister, for the European Parliament, we need to work hard for achieving good solution on the package on immigration. For us, Dublin reform is a priority. The European Parliament want to achieve an agreement with the member states, we need to do more, the problem is in the hand of the Council, for this, I think, we are pushing a lot with the Romanian presidency, for us, it is very, very important. The other point is Brexit, the European elections, for us, it is crucial to achieve good results on the legislative level, on the other most important issues, for sending a message to the European citizens, I refer to European elections. Also, on the budget, we want to have a vote on the financial framework, it is not easy, I know, but for us, it is important to underline the importance of the MFF for explaining to the citizens, our engagement for good solutions on the most important points, not only immigration, but unemployment, youth’s unemployment, terrorism, defence of our border. These are the key points for us. We will support the Romanian presidency, we will count on your support for this very important point. Thank you very much.

Viorica Dancila: I want to thank the President Antonio Tajani and the entire European Parliament for the hospitality you showed me on the occasion of my participation in the plenary session today, in Strasbourg, during which, I presented our European vision as reflected in the programme of priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

During today’s discussions, I showed that the core objective of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is to contribute to the creation of a more united and more cohesive Europe. This is also the reason for which we chose as motto of our presidency cohesion as a common European value. I have appreciated the support expressed by President Tajani in the discussions that we have had about this core objective of our presidency of the Council of the European Union. We agreed during our dialogue that, without a united, cohesive Europe, we cannot hope to give the necessary responses to the current challenges facing the Union and to obtain concrete results that our citizens expect. As it was said during the meeting of the European Parliament, we have 242 dossiers pending completion. They are difficult dossiers requiring consensus and we hope that together with the European Parliament, the European Commission, we will be able to finalize as many dossiers as possible that are on the European agenda. At the same time, as the President of the European Parliament stated, we need to give a response to some challenges that EU has not faced so far – I refer to Brexit – but, at the same time, to post –Brexit future of the European Union. An important event in this respect will be the Sibiu Summit, where we will shape the EU’s future together with the member states.

The multiannual financial framework is yet another challenge, an important dossier for which we need to take important steps, and at the same time, we also have to pay a close attention to traditional policies such as the Common Agricultural Policy and the Cohesion Policy, but also to the dossiers on migration, asylum policy, defence policy, foreign policy, which need consensus which we hope to obtain within the EU Council.

Romania will fulfill its duty as an impartial mediator and facilitator of consensus and we hope that our responses to be as close as possible to the European citizens. All these challenges, awaiting responses from us, closing as many dossiers as possible that will need to take place in the first part of this year, because, as you know, elections for the EP will be held in May, and we need to focus our activity in the first part of the year. We hope that through the responses given, the decisions we will take together, the European Union will become stronger also in respect of the concrete results for citizens. It is important for citizens to be able to better perceive the tangible results and the added value of the European project as this is necessary in the context of the future European elections.

As holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, we are determined to have a constructive role in identifying, together with the European Parliament, the best ways to advance the process of European integration, while pursuing a positive, consensual agenda and, as we have previously emphasized, a citizen-oriented one.

Reporter: A question for both senior officials. President Tajani, both you and other officials from the EU institutions, mentioned that you have expectations from Romania to advance as much as possible the negotiations for the multiannual financial framework. This new multiannual financial framework also includes a program called "Values and democracy in the European Union". Will you have a vote on Thursday on this program and on some rules to freeze payments to countries that do not observe the rule of law? What concrete expectations do you have from the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU to advance the negotiations on the multiannual financial framework, specifically on this issue, taking into account the possible opposition in the Council? Hungary and Poland would be just two of the states, for instance, that can block this. And for the Prime Minister: advancing negotiations on the multiannual financial framework is a priority for Romania. Within this framework, let us say, of the Presidency, what will be Romania’s position as President of the Council of the European Union on this issue of freezing payments to EU states that do not observe the rule of law or jeopardize it? Thank you very much!

Antonio Tajani: As regards the multiannual financial framework, we insist that it be adopted as soon as possible, the general framework and as regards various programmes, we hope we can approve them before the  Europeanelections. We really insist on this, and and we tried to make it clear to the Council of the Member States that we cannot afford not to give answers to the citizens. We made proposals with figures. We have called for the Community budget to grow from 1 percent to 1.3 percent and we have bet on own resources. We do not want to discuss for each program in part with the Council what interests us. It is the adoption of the general framework, the multiannual general framework, because how can you talk about the fund, for instance, for the Common Agricultural Policy, while it is uncertain what will happen to the UK, we cannot discuss individual programs, I cannot tell you now what will be the position of Poland, Hungary or Romania. We do not debate only individual programs.

Viorica Dancila: Currently, these issues are being negotiated within the Council. We must continue negotiations with the Member States and we must take into account the proposals made by the Member States. Otherwise, it is very important that any criteria related to the use of European funds be clear, transparent and are in the direct interest of the beneficiaries of European funds. I believe that these issues need to be taken into consideration and, as I mentioned earlier, the rotating Presidency should be an impartial mediator and bring consensus among the Member States.

Reporter: A question for both Mr. President Tajani and Prime Minister Viorica Dancila. Mr. Tajani, last week when you were in Romania you said you would call on the other Member States on the Schengen issue. We know very well that this is a double standard, but applies at European level in this issue to both Bulgaria and Romania, but the same double standard is found in other situations. What can you do as President of the European Parliament so that there is no difference between the citizens at EU level given that they are going to have such important parliamentary elections, as you pointed out a few minutes ago? Ms. Premier Viorica Dăncilă, how will the Romanian EU Council Presidency fight for the elimination of this double standard? Thank you.

Antonio Tajani: I reaffirm my position in favor of the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen Area. It is an appeal that I launched in my official speech which I delivered last week in Bucharest. I did the same during the press conference. I have not changed my mind. For me, Bulgaria and Romania can enter without any problems in the Schengen Area.

Viorica Dăncilă: As you well know, Romania fulfills all the technical criteria for joining the Schengen Area. As early as 2011, the Commission has highlighted this aspect, and I think that all countries should take this political decision, to give confidence in the EU, to trust that there is no difference in approaching different countries. I believe in the support of President Antonio Tajani, I believe in the support of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and I believe that this political decision that Romania joins the Schengen area is a decision that should be taken by the end of the Romanian EU Presidency, it should be taken even before the European Parliament elections, because this would give more confidence in the EU, it would show that there are no first hand and second-hand countries or first-hand and second-hand citizens. It is an act of justice that is done for the two countries and I think this should be done by resuming talks with the countries that oppose Romania's accession to the Schengen area. I will personally do this, this demarche must also be done by the President of Romania, and I think this discussion should also take place in the Justice and Home Affairs Council.

Andreea Ofiţeru, Hotnews: Prime Minister, I want to ask you about the safety of the European citizens and, implicitly, of the Romanians. You spoke in the plenum of Parliament about the safety of the EU citizens. What will you do about this in Romania with regard to the Compensatory Appeal Law, as the opposition has today called for you to withdraw this law, and I ask you considering that recently there have been more crimes committed by those who just came out of jail. Thank you.

Viorica Dăncilă: As you know, this law of compensatory appeal was initiated by the technocrat government led by Dacian Cioloş, and I think it was not an inspired decision at that time. I cannot give you a reply now on what I will do. I have to go back to Romania this evening. Tomorrow I will see, I will meet the Minister of Justice to make a decision and see what the effects of this law were, the implications that it had so that our decision reflects the reality existing in Romania and things like those that happened do not happen anymore. I am not a lawyer, I cannot come up with a decision at this moment until I speak to those in the field, until I speak to the Minister of Justice.

Reporter: Mrs. Dăncilă, I have a question regarding the freedom of the press in Romania. We are seeing more and more difficulties in practicing this job on the field, and I would like to know (…) about a bill last year to sanction those who would create a bad image for Romania, although the term ‘bad image’ has not been clearly defined and I would like to know what happened to this bill, we are all curious to hear about this.

Viorica Dăncilă: You talked about the freedom of the press in Romania. In Romania, freedom of the press exists and is well founded. That law you saw was not put into practice, so I cannot speak about something that has not been put into practice. There is no such law on the table of the Romanian Government, but what I can assure you is that restriction of press freedom in Romania will not exist.

Reporter: Good afternoon. I come from Croatia, which is part of the Presidency trio, as you know, after Finland. My question is whether you cooperate with the Croatian Government, because in the Croatian press there are doubts that this state would not prepare for the Presidency. And another question on activation of Article 7. What allies within the Council can you count on, because Poland will probably support Hungary, and Hungary will support Poland and both have right-wing governments and you are the only socialist Government, facing allegations of corruption, jeopardizing the judiciary and media freedom? Therefore, in connection with activating Article 7, which are your allies in the Council?

Viorica Dăncilă: Your first question pertained to the Romania – Finland – Croatia Trio. We have a very good cooperation with Croatia. We have a joint, balanced programme together for the next 18 months. Regarding activation of Article 7 and allies... I believe that Romania should not think of allies, because activation of Article 7 for Romania cannot become a reality, because in Romania there is no violation of the rule of law. Therefore, we cannot speak of activating Article 7 in this situation. I would not want to place Romania near Poland and Hungary, and I would not even want to talk about it, because I repeat, in Romania, the rule of law is observed and I do not think a discussion on this issue is useful.

 

 

 

Speech of the Prime Minister of Romania at the plenary session of the European Parliament

 

Dear President of the European Parliament,

Dear President of the European Commission,

Dear Members of the European Parliament,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

I am honored to be here today, before you, as Prime Minister of Romania.

We took over the European mandate from Austria and I would like to reiterate on this occasion my sincere thanks and congratulations to the Austrian Presidency. At the same time, I would also like to thank our partners in Trio, Finland and Croatia, with whom we have had a very good coordination in the preparation of a common, balanced work program for the next 18 months.

In the following, I will present today the priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and our vision on the future of the Union.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Europe has always known to overcome obstacles, to revive after the less auspicious episodes of history. The European project itself, in its present form, has been modeled by the many crises it has gone through.

Today, finds us in a complex moment of the European construction process. But as you well know, any situation of this kind can be transformed into an opportunity, a new beginning.

This is why I’m telling you that from my point of view, the rotating presidency held by Romania for the next 6 months is not just a formal duty. There are over 500 million European citizens waiting for an answer about the future of their home, which is called Europe.

I therefore believe that it is important to show the citizens of the Union that the European institutions work for them and mostly, they have results that improve their lives and future prospects.

I am aware that the first phase of the rotating presidency will be intensive and shorter in time as regards the decision-making process. That’s why I count a lot on your support to complete as many as possible legislative files on the agenda and to meet challenges at European level.

The vision of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council on the European project is structured around the idea of “cohesion as a common European value”, declined in all its dimensions:

- political cohesion illustrated by the need for unity between Member States;

- economic and territorial cohesion, in order to reduce development gaps between Member States and between regions;

- social cohesion, important in terms of preserving the four freedoms of the Internal Market of the European Union;

This concept of cohesion is transposed in a transversal manner within our thematic priorities, which are divided on four main pillars of action: Europe of convergence, Europe of security, Europe as a global actor, Europe of common values.

Convergence Europe is the first pillar of action of the Romanian Presidency at the EU Council and aims at ensuring economic growth, social development, reducing gaps, competitiveness, connectivity and sustainability.

The Single Market is, of course, the Union’s greatest achievement, the core of European construction. As a result, one of the objectives of the Romanian Presidency at the EU Council is an active legislative agenda in the Internal Market field in order to complete the necessary framework for its proper functioning.

We must strengthen the scientific and technological base of European industry, which can stimulate our international competitiveness and, at the same time, we can generate economic growth and jobs.

We will continue to promote digitization, including in the field of European industry. The digital offensive has already been promoted by the previous Estonian and Austrian EU Council Presidencies and we will continue to work in the same sustained rhythm.

We will focus on the development of functional links between East and West, North and South, to facilitate connections of all kinds, operationalizing the four freedoms of movement and increasing competitiveness of the European economy and living standards in less developed regions.

I was telling you about the need for a long-term policy in the industrial field, and equally important is the regulation of the Energy Union. These two themes will occupy an important place on the agenda of our presidency.

The second pillar of Romania’s presidency will be Europe of security. We are facing security challenges that threaten citizens’ safety. The European Union is confronting a wide range of risks and threats that can undermine the values ​​and prosperity of our open societies.

In a world of accelerated digitization, we must advance in terms of protecting citizens in the virtual space. We need to strengthen the Union’s resilience to cyber-attacks. So, cyber ​​security will be a prerequisite for any project on the information society.

Regarding the security of the Union, we will also treat with all seriousness the negotiation and finalization of initiatives on the coherent management of migration flows, the strengthening of the Union’s external borders, emergency interventions, the fight against terrorism, the citizens’ safeguarding in the virtual space, the operationalization and even extending the mandate of the European Prosecutor’s Office to terrorist offenses, such as strengthening of judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters.

We want to contribute in finding viable solutions in these areas of migration and to promote cooperation between countries of origin and transit, including in combating trafficking in human beings.

The third pillar we have proposed for Romania’s presidency is Europe as a global actor. In our view, the main direction of action in this area must start from the common agreements assumed by the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy.

In the field of security policy, we will promote strengthening the defense and security capabilities of the European Union, in close complementarity with similar processes within NATO.

At the same time, we must focus on our proximity on what the advancement of the Union’s enlargement policy means. This year’s 10th years anniversary of the launch of the Eastern Partnership will be an important moment in this respect. Particular attention should be paid to the Western Balkans.

We will also support the implementation of EU commitments at international level. Key areas are the promotion of trade interests, the modernization of the multilateral trading system and the extension of the economic partnership and free trade agreements.

The fourth pillar on which the presidency of Romania will unfold will be the Europe of common values. In other words, in order to stimulate European political cohesion, we aim to promote the principles and values ​​that unite us.

At the same time, we must firmly fight a series of issues that some societies within the Union are still facing, such as racism, intolerance, xenophobia, populism, antisemitism or hate speech.

We want a more democratic Union, so we will promote equal treatment aspired by all Member States and all European citizens. This is essential for the citizens’ trust in the European project.

I tell you this from the perspective of the Romanian citizens I represent as Prime Minister and who, despite their very strong attachment to the Union, feel unequal treatment of Romania, especially when our country is being criticized for issues that are natural in other Member States, or when Romania is facing certain conditionalities that does not exist in other countries of the Union.

Romanians feel inequitable when they see their country being held outside the Schengen area and I would like to thank President Jean Claude Juncker and President Antonio Tajani on this occasion for their total support for joining the Schengen Area.

I have given you these examples from my country to understand that some decisions taken at European level regarding some Member States, ultimately affect the citizens of those countries and, one way or another, they determine the confidence they have to the Union. So, all the time when making decisions we have to think about the citizens of the Member States that are affected by our decisions and we must eliminate any form of differentiated treatment so as to strengthen the common values ​​of the Union.

Education and culture are the key to Europe’s future, both from the individual perspective of the European citizen, as from the point of view of strengthening the European project.

It also requires solutions that will involve young people in shaping a strong Europe based on common European values.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are all following the decisions in the British Parliament and it is obvious that Brexit will be the focus of attention during the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. We will turn this history tab of the Union, but we also need to learn from this situation.

In May, our democracy - the largest transnational democracy - will choose a new European Parliament.

I propose to capitalize the future electoral context, as it is an opportunity for us, those who believe in Europe, to promote a stronger Union geared towards its founding principles, in resonance with our European spirit.

I believe in a strong Europe - through unity, in a better Europe - by fulfilling its commitments to its citizens and globally and, why not, I believe in a more European Europe - by promoting genuine European values ​​and stimulating its citizens to feel that they belong to the European space. A strong and unitary Europe in all its dimensions - political, economic, social - is the best solution for the future of the European project.

 

Thank you!



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