Roma integration, a national not European problem.
The President of the European Commission met Romanian President Traian Basescu at the Presidential Palace on the sidelines of the Danube Summit. The two talked about the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification on the Justice system, about Romania’s Schengen accession, about the absorption of European funds, and also about the European Union’s current problems. Barroso pointed out that Romania’s Schengen accession will take place when all technical criteria are met and that legally there is no link between the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification (MCV) and accession to the Schengen space. “Of course, there are certain states that consider there is a link between judicial reforms and accession to the Schengen space; they consider that this capacity to implement judicial reforms is an indicator of the capacity to implement the measures having to do with the Schengen space, because it’s about trust,” the EC President showed. He also pointed out that Romania’s immediate priority is to bring the economic situation to a stable level, announcing after the meeting that an action plan for a better absorption of European funds has been agreed. “Our key is to maintain the exchange rate and to implement the structural measures the country needs, because otherwise the country will not be able to overcome this situation. (…) We have to hasten the inflow of European funds in order for them to be used at maximum capacity,” Barroso said, announcing that next week EC experts will come to Bucharest in order to evaluate progress in seven priority domains. “Romania’s absorption of European funds is poor, something that places it at risk of having far smaller allocations in the future. President Barroso assured us that the European Commission has maximum openness to put experts at the Romanian government’s disposal in order to support the absorption of European funds,” President Basescu stated in turn.
In what concerns the Roma issue, Barroso made it clear that first of all this is a national problem: “It’s crucial for all countries with Roma minorities to do everything they can to integrate them. It’s very important to clarify that Roma integration is a national problem, not a European one… All we can do is use the means we have in order to help them.”
ROMANIAN-BULGARIAN GOV’T MEETING FOR SCHENGEN
Premier Boc also had several meetings with his counterparts from neighboring countries. Premier Boc and his Bulgarian counterpart agreed to organize a joint Romanian-Bulgarian government meeting in March 2011, considering that that would issue a strong message of solidarity and cooperation for Schengen accession. “We will be sufficiently pragmatic to complete our projects, to finalize the Vidin Bridge in 2011, to start the construction of the other two bridges and to mutually support each other in the Schengen accession process so that we would register success in March 2011. And to work during the joint government meeting,” Boc said. The Head of Government also met the Serbian Vice Premier, the latter proposing the construction of a highway that would link the two countries. Prime Minister Boc saluted the proposal, pointing out that it will be analyzed from an economic standpoint. Likewise, Boc assured Serbia that Romania maintains its position on not recognizing Kosovo even after the ICJ decision that recently established that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not violate international law.