Former EC President Barroso receives honorary PhD degree from the West University of Timisoara: Romania should be a Schengen member, as that would improve Europe’s security

The West University of Timisoara (WUT) awarded on Friday the Doctor Honoris Causa title to former European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, in a ceremony hosted by the Aula Magna of the Timisoara-based university.

The event was attended, among others, by PM Dacian Ciolos, Senate Speaker Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, Vice PM Vasile Dincu, Minister of National Education and Scientific Research Adrian Curaj, Co-chairman of the National Liberal Party (PNL) Vasile Blaga, and former Education Minister Sorin Cimpeanu.

In his preamble, WUT provost Prof. Marilen Pirtea, noted that during Barroso’s tenure as EC president, the European Union welcomed three new member states, namely Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia, and that the period included important milestones, such as the negotiation process and the finalizing of the Lisbon Treaty.

”We are here to celebrate again the September 26, 2006 event, namely the announcement of Romania’s acceptance as a European Union member state, an announcement you made in person and that was the result of a labour-intensive process, to whose success you had a crucial contribution. It was an event with historic consequences for us, as a nation, and for which we want to express our sincere gratitude and our warmest thanks”, WUT professor Silviu Rogobete said in his Laudatio.

In his degree acceptance speech, the former European Commission President markedly thanked Ciolos, wished him success as prime minister, and voiced his confidence that Romania’s Government is in good hands with the competent, honest and enthusiastic ex-Commissioner.

Former President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso believes Romania should become a member of the border-free Schengen Area because that would improve Europe’s security.

“When I was in the Commission, I was already saying that Romania was ready to become member of Schengen. I said it including also at the European Council level, in front of all the heads of state of the European Union. Your President at that time, President Basescu was there, he may remember. Because there were some doubts in some member states and I even said that from my point of view Romania was better equipped than some current members of Schengen, in Schengen. So I see no reasons to change my opinion.Of course I have not now latest information about the situation, but to me it seems that Romania should be a member of Schengen. I think it will increase not decrease the security in Europe “, Barroso told a news conference on Friday in Timisoara, western Romania.

The former president of the European Commission added that he would like Romania to be welcomed in the Schengen Area as soon as possible. “I want to be very sincere, I also understand that facing the current challenges of refugees, massive refugee inflows and the illegal migration, the governments of the European Union are now probably more prudent or more reluctant in this matter. That’s my analysis, my assessment, but frankly I cannot commit to a date, I wish that happens sooner rather than later, because it’s an aspiration of many people here in Romania and I believe the state, the Republic of Romania has fulfilled its obligation in terms of preparing itself for the Schengen regime,” said Barroso.

“It is important for Central, Eastern European leaders to show they are first-class Europeans”

Central and Eastern European leaders should show they are first-class Europeans, and to be a first class European means to cooperate, to show solidarity, former President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said Friday, mentioning that all the European Union member states have both rights and duties.

“Because of globalisation today, we have this danger of some politicians to explore these xenophobic, sometimes racist sentiments and sometimes nationalistic sentiments. And I hope that those that are honest people , for whom the values of democracy are important that they don’t give up to these guys, on the contrary that they have the courage to explain what they expect. Because the majority of the people does not want these extremist positions, they don’t want that I’m sure, and that’s what we have to do. So it’s delicate, but I believe that for instance, I said it already to some friends in Central and Eastern European countries, that it’s important that the leaders of this region show that they are first class Europeans in all matters. And to be a first class European means to cooperate, to show solidarity and not to put oneself in a kind of exceptional place. We all have our rights, as members of the EU, but we also have our duties,” Barroso told a news conference in the western city of Timisoara.

The former president of the European Commission added that a European Union of 28 member states is a historic achievement. “I think it was one of the greatest achievements ever, in the east of Europe and even in the international relations history. The fact that the EU was able to go from the original 6 members to now 28 and, in fact, 2004 we were 15, now we are 28, I was in the first Commission of the enlarged Europe, and my good friend Dacian Ciolos, currently the Prime Minister of Romania, was one of my colleagues in that great task,” added Barroso.

He also mentioned the tough stance of some political leaders that the EU should be made up only of Europe’s richest countries: “There are some people in Brussels that are not comfortable with the EU enlarged. They believe the EU should be (…) just the hard core of the richest countries (…) and that other countries that are not so rich or now are improving should not become a member. So, what I hope now is that new member states show that this is not true, that they are not right. And this is very important.”

Migration crisis, probably the most difficult challenge the EU is facing in last decades

Migration crisis is probably the most difficult challenge the European Union is facing in last decades, says former President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, who argues that this is more serious than the so-called “euro crisis,” because what is at stake is not just economic matter, it’s about political acceptance.

” I consider this more serious than the so-called “euro crisis”. Why? Because what is at stake is not just economic matter, it’s about political acceptance and because the very sudden and massive inflow of refugees and illegal migrants is being used by some nationalistic or xenophobic forces against Europe. And so this may cause political problems in Europe,” Barroso told a news conference on Friday in the western Romanian city of Timisoara.

In his opinion, a distinction should be made between refugees that the EU has the duty to receive on humanitarian grounds and to fight terrorism and criminal networks.

“If the member states want to have the protection, they have to put more resources, put in their resources, putting them together, financial resources, operational resources, human resources, to protect our borders, yes. I am not naive, there are problems of security in Europe now, but we have to be rigorous, and make distinction between refugees that we have the duty to receive on humanitarian grounds and to fight terrorism and criminal networks,” said Barroso.

The former president of the European Commission argues that the ongoing migration crisis should be managed so that the European Union may get strengthened, the Schengen Area may be rounded up with new members and institutional cooperation may increase among the member states of the EU.

“I think this is possible if there is sufficient political will and I know that the governments together with the European institutions are now working on a more European approach to this challenge. Let’s hope, I hope that it will be more or less like what happened with the financial crisis. To use the financial crisis not to put an end to EU, but to have a Banking Union. The same now should happen with the refugees, not to put in question Schengen, but on the contrary, to complete Schengen, to make it more operational and to have more cooperation between different national services and authorities,” Barroso added.

He said the European Union should show solidarity for the ones in need, and be tough with those who are trying to risk citizens’security, a rather difficult but still the only one viable policy.

“I think in face of this matter, we have to have the courage to explain what’s going on. First of all, most refugees they come here because they are in a desperate situation. (…) If these people are coming here because they are persecuted in their countries, because there’s a war that is destroying their country, we have to receive them. If I was a Syrian father and I saw my family at the risk of being destructed of course I would try to get to some place where I would try to live in peace. So I ask the Europeans to make that exercise in terms of moral duty. In Eastern Europe there were awful wars and yet in the path of these refugees. (…)We have to fight not the persons, but the traffickers. We have to protect our external borders. Like a country, the European Union has the right and the duty to defend its borders. Because some of this traffic is linked with drug trafficking, with child trafficking, prostitution, sometimes even terrorism and international crime,” said Barroso.

The former president of the European Commission believes preserving the Schengen Area could help solve the problem, because what is in Schengen is not the diminishing of security, but the duty of the governments of Europe to cooperate more in terms of exchange of information, protection of external borders.

“So what we need to do now more is to have more cooperation between different polices, between different intelligence services, on a European level. It has nothing to do with the internal or external borders. Does anyone think that we should try to build again borders between Belgium and Luxembourg and the Netherlands? Or between Spain and Portugal? What would be the advantage in fighting against terrorism? No, what we have to do is to increase the level of confidence and cooperation between the different polices and different intelligent services and also to have more resources, including financial resources for the protection of our external borders. And that’s why this policy is a delicate one to do,” Barroso explained.

In the same context, he congratulated Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel on having taken a very principled attitude despite the very strong pressure on her; because if generally was taken another position then I think it would be very dangerous for the image of Germany and for the image of Europe.

“At the end I think we are going to solve it, but the solution for this is not to create new walls or new borders, it’s on the contrary, to cooperate more. The solution is more Europe. Because terrorists and those who are using those movements of people to create insecurity they are international networks, they don’t respect borders, so what we need is to also have the capacity of our national security services to cooperate trans-borders, above the borders, to have a stronger cooperation at that level. So, of course, I am a realistic person, I know very well that we are not going to have now, let’s say, a common intelligence service, but we could have at least an articulation of an intelligence service for this purpose and we should have and that’s the proposal of the European Commission to have a Common Coast Guard,” added Barroso.

“Technicians’ governments are sometimes necessary”

Governments made up of technocrats are sometimes necessary, says former European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso; it is not a problem, if democratic rules and the Constitution are observed, he added in an interview to Agerpres on Friday, upon receiving an honorary PhD degree from the West University of Timisoara.

He provided the example of his own country, Portugal, ruled by technicians on several occasions. He also mentioned Italy’s case, with PM Mario Monty appointed in 2011 without elections, during a crisis, and Greece’s Lucas Papademos, who became premier the same year, in similar circumstances.

Romanian citizens must decide for themselves if this can be a solution on a longer term, Barroso asserted, insisting that normally, in a democracy, the political parties nominate candidates, then majorities and coalitions are formed.

He declined any further comments, precisely to avoid possible misunderstanding in the current context, as the incumbent Romanian government headed by Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos is a technocratic one.

PM Ciolos praises former EC President Barroso on academic recognition

Present in Timisioara, Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos recalled his tenure as a European Commissioner under former EC President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso.
“I will speak in my honouring capacity of [Mr. Barroso’s] collaborator for more than four years. Those were four years when I have learned an enormous amount, four years when I more than grew attached to Europe, but also understood Europe very well,” Ciolos said at the WUT ceremony.

He thanked Barroso for trusting him as a European Commissioner for agriculture and rural development and recalled some difficult moments of their work together.

“This is what I lived next to him at the European Commission – a series of difficult moments, when he had to take very quick decisions, many times against convictions shared by other European decision-making institutions; moments when the EC has played a decision and solution promoter role. Many ideas that seemed crazy became real and made the EU grow, geographically speaking, consolidated it, in a process not yet consolidated itself,” the prime minister added.

He underscored Barroso’s strong support to the completion of Romania’s negotiations to join the EU.

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