Press statements by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and members of the Cabinet at the start of the Cabinet meeting of October 22

22 October 2020

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Ludovic Orban: I will start this Cabinet meeting by reading a headline from The Economist: „Romania’s economy is better responding to the pandemic than other European economies”. There is of course a set of elements linked to the functioning of the Romanian economy. A prestigious magazine like The Economist acknowledges in fact the reality in Romania, and a functional economy represented for us a fundamental objective which we managed to attain. I have other good news, Minister Aurescu. Cosmin Boiangiu, Deputy to the Permanent Representative of Romania to the European Union has recently been elected in an important leadership position at the EU level: head of European Labor Authority, in a competition with other three candidates representing important countries – Spain, Poland, Finland.

Bogdan Aurescu: Mr Prime Minister, it has been an extremely consistent and intense effort which has been made lately, including today, through political-diplomatic demarches at the level of the Representation, capitals of the Member States, at the level of Foreign Ministry leadership – Secretary of State Iulia Matei, in my turn, I contacted counterparts during today...

Ludovic Orban: I understood that there have been several rounds.

Bogdan Aurescu: There have been four rounds of the vote today within the Steering Committee of the European Labor Authority. Mr Boiangiu won this position by 25 votes to 4, being validated by a large majority of the representatives of the Steering Committee, which represents a noteworthy success for Romania, the Romanian diplomacy and it is proof of the appreciation that Romanian representatives at EU level are enjoying, as well as their expertise.

Ludovic Orban: I would say in all modesty, that is also due to the efforts of our Cabinet in ensuring the best possible relations at European level, a better perception of Romania and an increasingly important role in the functioning of European institutions. I congratulate Mr Boiangiu, I am sure he will honour his country as head of the European Labor Authority. Minister, please inform our colleagues regarding an extremely important meeting you had with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Bogdan Aurescu: Mr Prime Minister, on Monday I had political consultations with the U.S. Secretary of State, in the context in which, we celebrate this year 140 years of diplomatic relations, and next year - 10 years since the adoption of the Joint Declaration on Partnership Strategic for the 21st century. There are discussions which represent a very good opportunity to assess the stage of the Strategic Partnership, but also to see the priorities for the next period. The U.S. Secretary of State appreciated the solidity and substance of the Strategic Partnership with Romania and pointed out that, for the United States, Romania is a pillar of stability and a reliable ally in the region. In fact, the visits that my colleagues, Minister Ciucă and Minister Popescu have made recently, together with the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, show the extremely dynamic, consistent dialogue that we have with the United States. Practically, very briefly, the following items were agreed: the preparation of the seventh session of strategic dialogue, which is the structured mechanism that discusses all the details, all the dimensions of the Strategic Partnership, at the beginning of next year; the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State will also be in preparation; we discussed and resumed, building on the very good results of Mr Ciuca's discussions, the need to further strengthen the cohesion of NATO's eastern flank, with a focus on the Black Sea region. I welcomed and discussed the United States’ intention to increase its military presence on the territory of Romania and we reiterated the increased interest of our country for an increased U.S. military presence in Romania. Also, on the economic and energy dimension, we discussed the next steps following the signing by Minister Popescu of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the modernization of Romania's civil nuclear power program. We discussed the involvement of the United States, including financially, in achieving the two major interconnection projects Rail-2-Sea and Via Carpatia, which Romania promotes including within the Three Seas Initiative, with a direct impact also on military mobility, not only on the aspects of economic development. We discussed energy security, from the perspective of the importance of starting as soon as possible the exploitation of gas resources in the Romanian continental shelf of the Black Sea, with American involvement. We discussed cybersecurity and, very importantly, the inclusion of Romania in the Visa Waiver Program, which is a very important common goal for the two countries. We agreed to establish a bilateral working group dedicated to this topic, which will analyze the ways whereby we can attain a positive result. The U.S. Secretary of State also reiterated the support of the United States for Romania's accession to the OECD, again, a very important objective ...

Ludovic Orban: That is very important.

Bogdan Aurescu: We also discussed other issues related to Black Sea security.

Ludovic Orban: The official visit to France includes a speech in front of OECD representatives.

Bogdan Aurescu: A speech that will be extremely important for your promotion of Romania's interests related to Romania's accession to the OECD. And last but not least, we discussed the situation in the Republic of Moldova and other issues of regional interest. It was a very good visit to see what are, further, our priorities for the development and deepening of the Strategic Partnership with the United States of America.

Ludovic Orban: Thank you, Minister! Minister Virgil Popescu, what is the current state of the calls for projects, for the grants provided to SMEs?

Virgil Popescu: Mr Prime Minister, yesterday evening, the first call for projects on scheme 1 has closed, those microgrants of 2,000 euros. I will give you the exact figure, until yesterday evening, 29,215 companies submitted financing applications for the amount of 2,000 euros. We did not spend the entire budget, we noticed a slight decrease during a week, and from Friday to Tuesday,  and the fact that basically, no funding applications were submitted, therefore, we halted the project on Wednesday evening. Today, at 10:00 am, we released the financing scheme 2. I thanked the STS colleagues for this very good application, as the server could withstand 9,000 simultaneous applications – there, absolutely nothing happened. One hour and something ago, we had 19, 788 applications, 19, 879 applications at present.

Ludovic Orban: When does the call end?

Virgil Popescu: It closes on Wednesday, 28. Normally, given the number of applications, the budget is a bit exhausted, the 350 million are exhausted. Obviously, we have to see how much money each company applied for. The maximum is 150,000 euros, we also have to see if they meet the eligibility conditions. That's why I wouldn't want to comment on it.

Ludovic Orban: Pay close attention, because we will have to process all applications quickly so that the money reaches the beneficiaries as soon as possible.

Virgil Popescu: What is worth mentioning, Mr Prime Minister is that it is the first application in which entrepreneurs, SMEs, no longer have to obtain a certificate, bring it to us, go to another office, this simply goes through all databases automatically ...

Ludovic Orban: Well, the first was SME Invest.

Virgil Popescu: The answer comes after searching in all these databases.

Ludovic Orban: Thank you, Minister. Minister Tătaru, Secretary of State Raed Arafat, you know that we have had several discussions related to increasing the treatment capacity of the Intensive Care Units, which is our priority objective. I would like you to tell us briefly what progress you have made so far in relation to the discussions we have had.

Nelu Tataru: Yes. Mr Prime Minister, as you requested, in the last week we have re-evaluated all hospital units. In Bucharest, we have identified and operationalized at this moment, those authorizations from DSP are given, 102 intensive care beds, two of the hospitals, Colentina and Malaxa are entirely support-COVID hospitals, by order of the commander (...)


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