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Thursday, 15 December 2022

Remarks by Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă at the 6th Paris Conference organized by the International Economic Forum of the Americas, Paris, 15 December 2022

 

 

 

 

Dear Co-presidents of the Board of Governors of the Paris Conference, Mr. Desmarais and Mr. Clamadieu,

Dear Members of the Board of Governors of the Paris Conference,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and a privilege to be with you today, at the 6th Paris Conference organized by the International Economic Forum of the Americas.

I would like to thank Mr. Nicholas Remillard for this invitation and at the same time congratulate all of you for the high standards of the event.

We gathered today in “The City of Lights”, Paris, a space of social advancement and economic progress, known not only for its beauty but also for the fervor of ideas, reflections, and international dialogue, so much needed nowadays. A great Eastern-European writer, Milan Kundera, rightfully said that “Paris is more than the French capital, it is the capital of the world”.

This moment has particular personal relevance. In the afternoon, I will have the first meeting at the OECD since Romania received the invitation to start the process of joining the Organization. For us, the stake of joining the OECD is to complete a considerable process of modernizing Romania, already consolidated through the integration into the EU, but also through the accession to NATO.

The reforms that Romania has undertaken in the last 30 years have strengthened our economic and social resilience. This resilience helps us manage the impact of the successive crises that not only our continent but the whole world faced and still has to cope with.

We have been confronted for many months with the Covid pandemic and the transition from the crisis. This had repercussions in terms of supply and production chains. Since the end of last year, other crises emerged and overlapped.

I am referring here to the energy crisis, respectively the impact of the war in Ukraine.

The illegal, unprovoked, and unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russia determines us to consolidated international action and to the deepening of European and Euro-Atlantic cooperation. Romania's response, similar to that of our likeminded partners remains firm and clear. Not only in terms of directly supporting Ukraine, but also as regards implementing restrictive measures decided with the main purpose of reducing to a maximum the sources of financing for the war machine of the Russian Federation.

Romania offers a solid support platform for Ukrainian refugees; a hub for humanitarian assistance to Ukraine; the most efficient gateway for the transit of Ukrainian grain to the rest of the world, a "safe haven" for Ukrainian businesses that can and want to relocate temporarily.

We do all this with the very deep conviction that by helping Ukraine, we protect our values and citizens from barbarism.

However, no government will be able to lend consistent and long-term support without having on its side businesses and civil society.

I invite you all to remain engaged with financial support, projects, initiatives, that will allow Ukraine to win the war.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

The lesson learned during the past months is that dialogue, cooperation and solidarity are key not only in defending our values and way of life, but also in enhancing our resilience.

Speaking of dialogue, I would like to insist on the need of avoiding falling into the trap of egotistic isolation.

The Covid pandemic became a sort of accelerator for attitudes that equaled resilience with the return to protectionism. It is wrong!

Though we need to change the paradigm, we have at the same time to maintain open channels and flows between the ones sharing the same values.

In Europe at least, strategic dependencies such as the one on the Russian gas proved to be very damaging. It is time now to rethink priorities, by reinvigorating ties in strategic sectors with likeminded partners.

For this, dialogue is important, as we cannot establish win-win partnerships without negotiation, compromise, or definition of common objectives for the long term.

Dialogue is not important only between Governments. Maintaining fluid cooperation between government, business and citizens safeguard the sustainability of decision, as well as social peace. Crises challenge societies and economies; sometimes to the limits. This is why, staying inclusive, and keeping open all the communication channels, can make the difference between success and failure.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

We can agree that these multiple crises - geopolitical, economic (with inflationary pressures), and post-pandemic -  are a cause for concern for citizens, for the societies we serve.

But I wonder, doesn't history teach us that they also offer a framework that allows unprecedented relaunch of some major projects?

Aren't they the decisive factor to innovate and bring added value to the supply chain and the products we put on the market?

I think that the "New Deal" carried out by the US administration after the great Crisis of '29 shows us that the determination and courage to intervene through all the levers of the state can overcome the greatest difficulties.

Mirroring this experience, we can now talk about the Green Deal, proposed by the European Union.

It is conceived as a tool that not only responds to the challenges of climate change but also distances us from the harmful dependence on fossil fuels, in the medium to longer term. In the immediate, our main stake is to reduce the dependence on Russian gas and oil.

Since February, the EU was pushed to step on the accelerator and look for alternative energy sources and routes.

It is very clear now that the Transatlantic partnership does not only have a security and defence component, but also a very strong energy dimension. The United States contributes to the supply of LNG to replace a third of the existing contracts with Russia until the beginning of the conflict.

An unprecedented mobilization stimulates the construction of new energy infrastructure to connect Europe to the North of Africa or the Middle East. From Romania to the Centre of Europe, from Poland to Greece, new LNG terminals and interconnectors are operational.

This is the most appropriate answer for our citizens who want the leaders to act and respond to their needs with determination and ingenuity.

Moreover, we have more boundaries to cross. Energy efficiency and energy storage, sustainable alternative fuels, and sources of energy waiting for us to tap into their potential. We need to break from the way we designed the production and consumption of energy.

However, in the current context, facing superposed crises, energy transition should remain ambitious. At the same time, additional pressure on industry and the economy must be avoided.

This is why Romania continued to bet on nuclear, while our offshore and onshore gas resources will support as transition energy.

We prepare our energy transition, with a strong preference for a smooth progression.

Another important transition for the world, for our continent, and for Romania is the digital one.

Accelerating the process of digital transformation of the Romanian economy and society is fundamental to develop the 21st Century Romania while achieving convergence with the more advanced European and global partners.

In Romania, we are focusing on digitalizing public services to both citizens and companies. The main objective is to contribute to the deep transformation of the economy, public administration, and society, increasing performance and efficiency in the public sector, by creating value based on digitization, innovation, and digital technologies.

Beyond our focus on digital public administration and the economy, education is very important, not only from the perspective of improving digital skills at the level of the entire Romanian society. Educational processes themselves require the integration of technology transversally.

In a digitalized society and economy, the cybersecurity component is crucial.

Beyond the national capabilities, Romania will also host the European Cybersecurity Competence Center This is of particular importance considering the war in Ukraine and the risk of intensified hybrid threats.

 

Distinguished audience,

War, energy and food crises, and high inflation are no good news.

However, we have solutions at hand. Cooperation, effective public policies, and innovative approaches are not a magic bullet, but they offer us the means to adapt and adjust.

In the case of Romania, the efforts are channeled towards investments and support for the most affected by the crises.

Inspite of inflation and high energy prices, Romania’s economy has proved its resilience against this challenging backdrop, being among the best performing in the EU in the third quarter of 2022, with an output growth for this year projected at around 5%.

In the longer term, the main factor that will influence the evolution of GDP is capital accumulation, by continuing the implementation of viable investment projects and starting new ones, boosted to a large extent through EU funds.

That is why one of the top priorities of my Cabinet is to have an open collaboration between investors and the Government with a view to finding together the best solutions for development.

I trust that today’s dialogue gives you already some ideas.

Please be assured that you will always find open interlocutors and partners in Bucharest.

I would like to thank you for your attention. I would like to thank you for the chance I had to listen to what the previous speakers shared with you, and to take with me that we have to be disciplined, we have to be cautious, and also, not put the eggs in only one basket.

Thank you very much for listening and I am wishing you great success throughout the whole conference.

 

 



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