Romania celebrates its 99th anniversary since it has been a complete country. The enthusiasm of that day resonates to present times and 1 December stands for us, the Romanians, everywhere as a symbol of fulfilled ideals: of brotherhood, of freedom and of prosperity. Since then, our country has seen its ideals tested often by the tides of history, yet it has always emerged above, culminating with what I believe was an equally key moment in its history: 1 January 2007. On this date, we became part to the ideals of a whole continent, which are embedded now in our history.
99 years after 1 December 1918, we, Romanians, are proud Europeans and our country is safer and more prosperous than ever before.
When I look at Romania as a European Commissioner in charge of cohesion policy, I see a country that is now the fastest growing economy in the EU and one of the biggest beneficiaries of European funding. I see a Romania that has grabbed the opportunities history has given it to improve the quality of life for its people. Such opportunities were the EU investments, which only in the past decade created tens of thousands of jobs, had thousands of schools connected to high speed internet and constructed and repaired more than 2 400 km of county roads.
I see a strong country that builds upon its achievements looking towards an ever brighter future. Romania is well onto its Euro-Atlantic integration course, feeding into a Europe that is bouncing back after years of crisis. We do not have to detach ourselves from our time and history to realise that this is the best path Romania could have chosen. That is why I say that the next step for the country is to become even better integrated with Europe, to make its strong growth durable, sustainable and socially equitable in the long run. Targeted public investments, structural reforms and quality of governance and improved business environment are key to making this happen and as a European Commissioner for Regional Policy I emphasize again the role Europe and cohesion policy in particular have to play in this regard.
Next year Romania will celebrate its centenary and shortly after that it will hold its first EU Council Presidency. These are key milestones for its history and I hold my hope high that, by then, Romania will be even bolder than until now. What is an utmost priority for the country is not to miss the opportunity it has in using EU investments. A huge amount, 30.8 billion euro, are at its disposal. This represents nearly half of the expected national public investment in 2015-2017. Making the most of these opportunities is a challenge. There have been delays, but in recent months important progress has been made and I am glad that things are accelerating their pace.
Romania’s success is tied not only to the future of its people, but also to the future of Europe at large. All the opportunities that stand ahead of it can promote it as an example for the rest of Europe, culminating with the European Council in Sibiu in the first half of 2019. I wish for my country, Romania, to makes full use of the billions of euro in EU funding allocated and it will make a strong case for the future of our policy and for the future of Europe. And I am convinced that next, year, a century after the Great Union Romania will be a truly modern country in the most successful political project of all times: the European Union.
Happy Birthday Romania! Happy Birthday Romanians! Wherever you are!
La Multi Ani Romania! La Multi Ani, Romani! Oriunde v-ati afla!