POLITICS

Basescu: Schengen accession to be discussed in March

President Traian Basescu held a press conference on Friday in Brussels, at the end of the European Council meeting. EU leaders have decided that we will go forward with the process of integrating the Union, the Head of State said.

President Traian Basescu announced on Friday after taking part in the European Council meeting in Brussels that it was decided to discuss the Schengen issue during the JHA Council on March 13-15, adding that he hopes that the decision to accede will be taken “if we are not making any political blunders at home.”“The Council had three main themes. The first concerned economic policy and took note of the ECOFIN decision on the Banking Supervisory Mechanism. The second concerned security and defence policy with an emphasis on the defence industry. And the third concerned Syria. The economic issues were addressed on Thursday afternoon, last night and during the first part of this day, being the subject of utmost interest for the future of the Union,” the Head of State said at the end of the Council. “The Economic and Monetary Union has to be consolidated. EU leaders have decided that we will go forward with the process of integrating the Union,” Basescu added. The president also stated that economic policies have to be oriented towards economic growth. “And we can translate this message: a balance has to be reached between expenditures on consumption and expenditures on investments. Otherwise we won’t be able to ensure economic growth,” Basescu added. Concerning budget discipline, the Head of State said that only solid budgetary policies are conducive to economic growth: budgets oriented towards investments, priority-based expenditures. “An important message was reiterated, concerning the fact that there are states, like Romania for example, that implemented extremely firm policies in 2010-2012 in order to reestablish macroeconomic balances. These states – and it’s even our case – can find themselves in the situation in which although they are within the Stability and Growth Pact’s parameters – and I am talking about the deficit for example, Romania’s deficit will be below 3 per cent – they lack resources for investments that would generate stronger growth. Then the EU can intervene with its own resources and as long as you have a deficit below 3 per cent of GDP it would come up with financial resources for investments, but only if the country is within the parameters of the Stability and Growth Pact. Of course, it’s difficult to explain,” the President added.Referring to the supervisory mechanisms, Basescu stated that the Council took note of the fact that the Finance Ministers reached an agreement on the single supervisory mechanism. “I understand that there will be larger, systemic banks that the ECB will supervise directly. The ECB will directly supervise the large and smaller banks which I understood will also be directly supervised by BNR.”Traian Basescu also stated that Romanians have gotten used to calling themselves Europe’s poor, which he admitted is true, but also underlined that 90 per cent of Romanians are the owners of the homes they are living in and are not paying EUR 600-700 on rent like the Greeks are doing for example. The President added that the December 9 elections took place normally and their result is not affected by the incidents that took place during the elections campaign.

Deeper eurozone union ‘agreed’

EU leaders have agreed on a roadmap for eurozone integration beyond the deal on centralised banking supervision, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday, according to BBC.Specific dates have not yet been agreed for the phases of integration. But the EU summit chairman, Herman Van Rompuy, said a deal should be reached next year on a joint resolution scheme for winding up failed banks. Mr Van Rompuy’s far-reaching roadmap was the main topic of the two-day Brussels summit.Speaking after the summit talks, French President Francois Hollande said: “There is no doubt today about the integrity of the eurozone – Europe cannot now be taken by surprise.” But beyond the banking reforms, he said, Europe must address the problems of unemployment and feeble growth. The deal to make the European Central Bank (ECB) the chief regulator should pave the way for direct recapitalisation of struggling eurozone banks by the main bailout fund, the 500bn-euro European Stability Mechanism (ESM). Direct recapitalisation would help break the “vicious circle” in which bank debts have put a crippling burden on national budgets and led to massive taxpayer-funded bailouts. Mr Van Rompuy aims to present detailed plans for deeper economic integration in time for the June 2013 EU summit. Much closer EU scrutiny of national budgets is envisaged, including penalties if governments rack up unsustainable debts.

Cohabitation pact reached?

Before leaving for Brussels, President Basescu had an informal meeting with PNL President Crin Antonescu, Premier Victor Ponta and PSD Secretary General Liviu Dragnea at the Presidential Palace. Political analyst Bogdan Chireac was the first to disclose the meeting, claiming that the four officials reached a cohabitation pact. Antonescu confirmed on Antena 3 that he had an informal meeting with Basescu, stating that the meeting took place in order for them to discuss the way forward after the general elections. Antonescu added that one cannot talk about a pact between USL and Traian Basescu. He pointed out that during the meeting USL did not give up its public positions.During the European Council summit the Head of State gave European leaders, including EC President Jose Manuel Barroso, EP President Martin Schulz and French President Francois Hollande, a document which he called “in Romania’s interest,” without disclosing its contents. The President was asked whether the document referred to Schengen accession but he denied. Bogdan Chireac claims that the document is allegedly the cohabitation pact that President Basescu and USL’s three representatives signed on Wednesday. PNL President Crin Antonescu stated on Friday that he has an idea about what the document President Basescu handed over to European leaders contains but he cannot disclose it. Later on he stated he has no clue what the document contains, and added that the “surreal” scenes in which the Head of State was seen “running around” with pieces of paper in his hand and pulling the sleeves of his counterparts in Brussels were “embarrassing” for Romania.

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