Jose Manuel Barroso told PM Ungureanu, in his first trip to Brussels since he took office, that Romania can count on the Commission’s support as the accession in the EU-free border area is ‘only a question of fairness’.
The European Commission will reject any attempt to link the Mechanism of Cooperation and Verification (MCV) in the justice system to Romania’s Schengen Area accession, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso stated yesterday in a joint press conference with PM Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu in Brussels.“I’m encouraging the Romanian government’s efforts in the following period, up to this summer’s MCV report. (…) What I can safely say now is that we will reject any attempt to link the MCV to Romania’s Schengen accession process,” the head of the European Commission stated.Asked about ending the MCV, Barroso answered: “It’s premature to talk about the end of the MCV or about its replacement. Romania has to have an impartial and efficient judicial system, which means that reforms are durable and irreversible. We recognize progress but we want to see not just the government’s but also the parliament’s support for reforms.” In his turn, Premier Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu expressed his conviction that Romania will be able to offer “all technical arguments” in order to rethink the justice system MCV “on the basis of entirely different coordinates,” reiterating the government’s clear commitment to seriously continue the justice system reforms and to combat corruption. Barroso drew attention to the low rate of absorption of European funds. “European funds can be a part of economic growth, an absorption rate of 7.4 per cent is painfully low. (…) When I was in Bucharest we agreed on an action plan on the absorption of European funds, and Premier Ungureanu expressed his commitment to focus on it,” the EC President stated, noting that Ungureanu has taken over as Prime Minister “challenging difficult times.” Barroso added that health reform should urgently take place in Romania and reforms are needed in the energy and state-owned companies. He particularly emphasized the necessity for additional funds for education, an important area for creating jobs. Barosso asked the Romanian PM to look into ways to reduce the number of teenagers dropping school.
PM Ungureanu wants EC to organize technical debate on xenophobia
After his talks with Herman van Rompuy, Ungureanu stated that the European Council has to initiate a high-level technical debate on the way in which xenophobic attitudes can put EU policies in doubt, the President of the European Council being invited to Bucharest to talk before the Romanian Parliament on this issue too. “There is a preoccupation with the way in which European policies can be put in doubt at the level of national governments and parliaments by the political expression of xenophobia, of political parochialism, by anti-democratic attitudes, in a word by anti-European attitudes. Both I and the Council’s President believe that a debate is needed, one that could technically be tied to the works of the European Council, a debate engaging high-level decision-making factors, a debate on the value of the European idea and the way in which we relate to it,” Ungureanu pointed out, being quoted by Mediafax. At the same time, PM Ungureanu expressed his hope that the European Commission’s justice report this summer will be “eminently positive.” In our view – and I believe we are thinking well, from a technical and juridical point of view – we are not linking in any way Romania’s Schengen accession with the Mechanism of Cooperation and Verification. We know very well what we have to do within the MCV’s coordinates, because we consider it – and this is a national point of view but at the same time a governing priority – the main engine of reform within the juridical system,” Ungureanu stated, Hotnews informs.
EP adopts resolution that condemns PVV website
The organization of such a debate has been proposed in the context in which the Freedom Party in the Netherlands (PVV), a state that opposes Romania’s and Bulgaria’s Schengen accession, launched on February 8 a website that invites Dutch citizens to denounce the “problems” caused by the influx of Central and Eastern Europeans. The website has generated dissatisfaction and condemnations at European Union level, however the Dutch Government has refused to adopt a position on the issue, limiting itself to distancing itself from it and underlining that the website has nothing to do with the government. Yesterday the European Parliament adopted a resolution that condemns the PVV website, reiterating its request for Dutch Prime Minister Rutte to condemn and distance itself from PVV’s “deplorable initiative.” The adoption of the resolution was welcomed by the Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry. Before leaving for Brussels the Prime Minister stated that it is necessary to convene an extraordinary European Council meeting, the statement being made in the context of opinions expressed on the Netherlands’s opposition to Romania’s Schengen accession and on “xenophobic, clearly anti-European” attitudes. “I believe this calls for an extraordinary European Council meeting in which to very sincerely discuss what is going on, how we can react in order to support pro-European policies so that such cases that erode the European policy won’t keep integration policies hostage. (…) I believe it’s the case to discuss frankly how political Europe reacts to the growth of the extreme right’s electoral influence. To me it doesn’t seem indecent to recognize the problem, to expose it and to find solutions at the level of member states,” Ungureanu stated on Wednesday evening during a meeting with foreign press correspondents accredited to Bucharest, being quoted by RFI.