Romania will be a trustful partner in defending the Schengen borders in case it is accepted by the member states, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told a joint press conference with Romanian President Traian Basescu on Friday in Brussels. ‘I have once again reiterated the Commission’s long-standing position that Romania should join the Schengen area as soon as possible, as all the criteria have been met,’ Barroso said.
He said the law had to be observed, as in the end the decision belonged to the member states. He added that the commission did its job in a very transparent manner and stated that, technically speaking, Romania met all criteria. Barroso said that the EC conducted several verifications and believed that Romania would be a trustful partner in defending the Schengen borders in case the member states accepted it as member, adding that he had also told this in the European Council meeting to the governments of the states having doubts about this being so. Barroso voiced his hope that the member states would be able to find a solution to solve this matter. He added that he knew President Basescu agreed to a gradual approach in this solution and that this was a very important objective.
He also said that he knew it was one of the most important aspirations of Romanian citizens, given the increased freedom Schengen provides, adding that it was fair – now that the Romanian authorities had done their job – to be offered this possibility.
In his turn, president Traian Basescu called on the member states of the European Union to acknowledge Romania’s right under treaties to enter the border-free Schengen Area when the country meets the relevant criteria, arguing that Romania’s institutions in charge with fighting corruption have recorded achievements praised in the latest progress report under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM).
‘The report under CVM clearly shows that the institutions of Romania in charge with the fight against corruption have performed praiseworthily, and I mean here the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), the Supreme Court of Justice and Cassation (ICCJ), the National Integrity Agency (ANI) and other courts. The fact that Romania’s institutions are working entitles me, in my capacity as Romania’s president, to ask the EU member states for Romania’s right under treaties to enter the Schengen Area when it meets the conditions,’ Basescu said at the end of a meeting with Barroso. According to Basescu, although it is true that the progress report has unflattering mentions of the Romanian politicians’ actions, particularly of Parliament, ‘the essence of reality is the institutions of Romania are working, and their working allows us to suggest that Romania should walk through the first stage of its integration with the Schengen Area this year.’
CVM: Significant progress; there are still concerns
Romania has made significant progress in many of the areas monitored by the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), but there are still concerns over the independence of the judiciary and the implementation of anticorruption measures, the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso stated. ‘I welcome the fact that Romania has made significant progress in many areas. At the same time, some concerns remain on the independence of the judiciary and on the implementation of anti-corruption measures. It is essential that a consensus is reached in continuing efforts to achieve the objectives of the Cooperation and verification report. The reform process must be maintained, and the results that have been achieved so far should be consolidated,’ said Barroso.
Moldova, on the focus
In conversation with the Barroso, Traian Basescu underscored the need for the European Union to identify solutions that will complement Romania’s financial solutions to speed up interconnection with Moldova.
‘From this point of view, interconnection of gas, electricity, road and rail infrastructure is essential. A project I have supported a lot is a back-to-back station in Isaccea, eastern Romania, a project worth EUR 70 M under which, once commissioned, Moldova could be provided 400 KV power, alongside a 100-KV line Romania started charging in November 2013. Mr. President Barroso confirmed to me that we can use cohesion funds allocated to Romania in this instance. The essence of the relationship is interconnection to the energy systems, road and railroad infrastructure of Romania, and implicitly of Europe,’ Basescu said at the end of a high level bilateral meeting with Barroso.
In his turn, President of the European Commission paid tribute to the investment made by Romania and by President Basescu in supporting Moldova on its European path, saying he intends to visit Moldova still in the first semester of the year.
‘I want to pay tribute to the investment made by Romania and by President Basescu in this matter. As you know, last November, at the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit, the commitment was made to sign the Association Agreement with Moldova as soon as possible. I am very pleased with the significant achievement that has been made to initial this Association Agreement. This is a very important signal we are sending. The Agreement will be a real breakthrough in terms of Moldova’s European path. Together with European reforms, it will strengthen the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova,’ said Barroso.
EC welcomes technology cluster in Cluj
The European Commission (EC) welcomes such initiatives as the one regarding a technology cluster to be built in Cluj, central Romania, to foster the transfer of knowledge and innovation and also cooperation between research and business, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso stated. Basescu also wanted to thank Barroso for being this open about the idea of developing the Cluj Innovation City project. ‘The Cluj Municipality has already allotted 220 hectares of land for the project that will focus on education, bio-economy research, healthcare research – it is the place where artificial blood is being developed – environment, energy and IT. Involved in this project are all the universities of Cluj, besides the municipality,’ said Basescu.