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October 21, 2021

Five years on, EU membership still raises many expectations

On the occasion of the five year anniversary since Romania joined the EU, Traian Basescu slammed the political class, from left to right, praised PM Boc and accused Netherlands of abuse.

President Traian Basescu yesterday said that he had ‘noticed’ the abuse made by the Netherlands against Romania and Bulgaria regarding the two states’ accession to the Schengen Area during the European Council. Basescu attended the conference ‘Romania in the EU. Five years since accession’ organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE), Ministry of European Affairs (MAEur) and Representation of the European Commission (EC) in Romania. Prime-Minister Emil Boc, Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu, European Affairs Minister Leonard Orban and EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos also attended the conference.

‘I have to admit that a certain ascension of anti-European parties in the various governments in Europe is already something concerning for me, and this is something I also voiced during the latest Council meeting. Even if the Council works are not public, I have to tell you that I noticed Netherlands’ abuse against Romania and Bulgaria. Such attitudes give us reasons to suspect that similar action may be replicated by other countries as well’, said the head of state. Basescu claimed Romania had the right to be in the Schengen Area because it had proven consistency and invested in making its border secure and in fighting border corruption during a time of crisis.

According to the president, Romania has managed to gain credibility over the recent years thanks to its consistency. ‘(…) The crucial thing is not to start getting the illusion again that politicians’ interest overrides national interest and proceed to operating changes that best suit our party’, he said. At the same time, Basescu reiterated the fact that, in his view, setting up the United States of Europe through a bigger surrender of sovereignty by the member states is the only way in which the European Union could continue to be a competitive global player.

The president accused Romanian politicians of inconsistency and of having ‘discredited’ Romania in the EU through actions such as the ‘setting up – closing down of the National Integrity Agency (ANI) and of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA)’, an attitude that was paid for ‘extremely dearly’ in the last five years, since the time of our EU accession. He also stressed out the fact that such inconsistencies had also affected the efforts for the termination of the Mechanism of Co-operation and Verification (MCV) in the area of justice. ‘If Romania had not had hesitations twice, the monitoring would have been probably over this summer’, Basescu said. He also noted that, after Romanian politicians ‘had consistently discredited Romania, it took a formidable effort to explain in Brussels that it had been a mistake and that those were not anti-European politicians’.

The president also said PM Emil Boc would continue to be on his side in the effort of state modernisation and reaching European standards of performance. ‘Premier Boc has been, is and will continue to be my partner in what needs to be done’, said Basescu. He thinks the healthcare law, the administrative re-organisation and a rewritten Constitution are very much needed.

Boc: unused investment, labour restrictions, low absorption

Since its accession to the EU, Romania has benefited from free movement of people, but has also accumulated some major underachievements such as the fact that foreign direct investment has not been fully used, the continuing labour market restrictions and the low rate of EU fund absorption, PM Emil Boc said, yesterday. The failure to eliminate the Mechanism of Co-operation and Verification (MCV) imposed by the European Commission and a big competitiveness deficit Romania has compared to other EU member states are other failures mentioned by the chief of the executive with regard to the period since the accession to the European Union. The prime-minister pointed out that Romania continues to depend on the EU, 65.8 per cent of its export being intra-community trade.

Also in the ‘underachievement’ department, Boc reminded that ten EU countries still keep labour restrictions for Romanian workers. He also said that the foreign direct investment had not been fully used and accused again the 2007-2008 administration for that failure.

Orban: Romania benefits of over EUR 5.6 bn from EU

European Affairs Minister Leonard Orban said, yesterday, that, even under conditions of a poor absorption of European funds, Romania ahs managed to be a net beneficiary from the EU budget, having received, since the date of its accession, EUR 11.91 bn and paying EUR 6.24 bn. Orban warned that the major risks would be at the end of 2013, ‘when the genuinely absorbed sums are supposed to be over EUR 8 bn’. E added that ‘many deficiencies of the Romanian society and Romanian administration are fully mirrored by the way this process operates’.

Orban added that he regretted the absence of debate and interest in European affairs topics and gave the example of ACTA, noting that, although the EC had held four public consultations on the theme, no one from Romania had made any contribution.

Ciolos: EU membership, not all-inclusive cruise boat

European Commissioner Dacian Ciolos said, also yesterday, that Romania’s possibility of fulfilling its role as a major EU member state depends on ‘the resources the Romanian administration would succeed in attracting, their expertise, and their ability of convincing their European partners’. In his opinion, ‘the quality of Romania’s presence in the European Union greatly also comes from the quality of the Romanian administration liaising with the European administration’. Ciolos said that, when our country became a member of the European Union, it didn’t embark on an all-inclusive cruise ship, but rather on an expedition the members of which ‘anneal themselves together’.

Barroso’s message

European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso sent a video message to the conference celebrating five years since the accession of Romania to the European Union, where he noted that, for Romania, its way to European integration and the road covered afterwards had contributed to the modernisation of the country, for the benefit of its citizens. ‘However, we should not be naïve. None of our European successes can be taken for granted, especially in a world experiencing a fast transformation’, said the president of the European Commission.

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