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December 8, 2022

Commission asked to set up intervention mechanism against rule of law breaches

PM Ponta says the standards should apply for all the countries that go against democracy, as there are problems in the western democracies as well.

The Foreign Affairs ministers of Germany, Netherlands and Finland on Friday sent a letter to the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso in which they propose a mechanism of intervention against the states that infringe the rule of law and the fundamental values of the EU. “I can confirm the receiving of this letter signed by the four minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Netherlands, Denmark and Finland. It is an interesting contribution in line with what President Barroso presented in his address on the state of the Union. (…) We want to continue working on these matters and consider this letter as an important contribution,” European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen said in Brussels. Reacting to the letter of the four ministers, Premier Victor Ponta said Saturday that he agrees to the idea, but added that these standards should be equally applied to Romania and to the countries that invented democracy in Europe and which go against these principles. “I support the idea of clear, quantifiable European standards; this is good for Romania and will leave profiteers without ammunition for their statements,” the premier explained, adding that there are Romanians who do more prejudice to their country through their statements than other politicians from abroad. In his turn, the Romanian minister of Foreign Affairs, Titus Corlatean, said that Romania might take into consideration the proposal made by the four states, on condition of curbing populism and increasing solidarity, Mediafax reports. Presidential advisor Cristian Diaconescu wrote on his blog that the perspective of severe sanctions, enforced through a future European mechanism of defending the rule of law, “seems to have no resonance in Bucharest,” although Romania is making negative headlines with this regard.

Germany explains

The German ambassador in Bucharest, Andreas von Mettenheim, explained  on TV that his country does not ask Romania to become a paradise, but the corruption here has an impact upon the borders which it should protect in the quality of Schengen member. “We do not demand Romania to become a paradise, because other European countries aren’t either. These points which we consider are very important… It is not about politicians being definitively sentenced. The simple existence of such accusations, in Germany, results in submitting the mandate and stepping down from office,” Andreas von Mettenheim explained, quoted by Mediafax. He added that there is a difference of political culture between the two countries. According to the diplomat, the main objections of Germany to Romania joining the Schengen Zone at this moment are unrelated to the elections in his country and refer to the fact that not all the requirements of the European Commission’s report on Justice have been met.The ambassador added that Romanians do not represent a problem in his country. On the contrary, they are a very qualified workforce. Yet, he admits that there are also sensitive situations, but they are limited to towns like Dortmund, where some people simulate the quality of employees in order to obtain social aid. “This is not an issue at federal scale. Local authorities are those in charge with solving this issue. This was also said by (Interior) minister Friedrich. It is a new social issue that imposes a federal-scale solution to this phenomenon. It is rather a bilateral Romanian-German problem,” Andreas von Mettenheim said.The tough stance taken by German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) over Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen area was met with criticism from his grouping, of all places.  Gunther Krichbaum (CDU), Chairman of the European Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag, told Der Spiegel that Germany should not discourage skilled workers from coming to the domestic labor market.  Der Spiegel also writes that, though the interior minister wants to prevent Romania and Bulgaria from joining Schengen, using the argument that authorities should stave off  those citizens “pouncing upon” social assistance available in  Germany, few of them are recorded as unemployed by the German social security system, and the  proportion of Romanian and Bulgarian jobless is lower than the average foreigners settled in Germania.

Basescu praised by Macovei, slammed by Iliescu

While in Suceava Saturday, PDL MEP Monica Macovei said that Romania’s accession to Schengen is still on JAI agenda solely thanks to the intervention and insistence of President Traian Basescu. She also said it was Romania that wanted to join the EU and did so without completing judicial and anti-corruption reforms, and added that promises were made that would be kept. Also on Saturday, PSD, honorary president Ion Iliescu said Traian Basescu “stirs up himself uselessly” trying to make himself noticed, adding that, as far as Schengen is concerned, things need to “settle down”. Iliescu pointed out that accession to Schengen remains one of Romania’s major goals, given this country being an EU member “The Schengen area comes to clarify from this viewpoint, too, our status as a member of the European Union,” Iliescu explained.


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