Romanian Social Democrat Corina Cretu will be the next European Commissioner for Regional Policy, the President-elect of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker announced in a press conference on Wednesday, introducing his commissioners for the 2014-2019 term. Six members of the incumbent Commission headed by President Jose Manuel Barroso are also in Junker’s formula of the European Executive, namely Kristalina Georgieva (Bulgaria), Neven Mimica (Croatia), Gunther Oettinger (Germany), Johannes Hahn (Austria), Maros Sefcovic (Slovakia) and Cecilia Malmstrom (Sweden). The new European Commission will be voted on by the European Parliament during its plenary session in October, to take over the term from the current team headed by Jose Manuel Barroso on November 1.
‘My Commission will deal with the major issues and projects. We will not take care of minor things. Frans Timmermans (Netherlands), First Vice-President, will be my right hand. There are nine ladies on this Commission. When we started negotiations, there were only three, but I was on the phone with national leaders all summer. Key-portfolios such as Regional Policy (Corina Cretu – our note) will be the responsibility of ladies. It is a winning team’, were some of Juncker’s statements during the presentation of his team ‘The EU is in a crisis of explanation. All those who look at us do not understand what we are doing. We must end exaggerated bureaucracy. I want to bring the EU closer to Europeans, I want Europeans to be proud of the EU’, the EC president also said.
Corina Cretu is now a vice president of the European Parliament, representing the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, the second in terms of number of MEPs. Among the 28 members of the College of Commissioners – one from each European Union member country – 15 are from the Centre-Right, eight are Social Democrats or Socialists, and five are Liberals.
Cretu: Regional Policy,
most important investment policy in Europe
Corina Cretu said she was honoured by her nomination, stressing she was ready for the responsibility of the portfolio. ‘I am honoured by the nomination by the President of the European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Junker, as European Commissioner, as well as by the support of the Government of Romania. Regional Policy is the most important investment policy in Europe and I am very glad Romania received such an important portfolio, demonstrating, again, the trust our country enjoys in Brussels. I am ready to take the responsibility for this portfolio’, Corina Cretu stated on her Facebook page yesterday.
In his turn, PM Victor Ponta said Corina Cretu’s designation is a success for Romania and proves that Romania’s voice does matter on the European level. “It proves we have important partners and allies and that we can act like a true EU member state”, said Ponta. He also called all Romanian MEPs to support Cretu at the committee hearings, and also asked the Opposition leaders to withdraw the letter in which they made an appeal against Cretu’s nomination.
REGIO, EUR 351 bn portfolio until 2020
According to RFI Romania, the most important EU policy in terms of allocated funds (EUR 351 bn until 2020), the Regional Policy, is also the most complex one. It is also a field that suffers ongoing transformations. Holding the portfolio of this dossier in the European Commission means managing a huge amount of money. The same source says the EU leaders decided in 2013 to allocate an important budget spanning seven years to the policy which suffers from inadequate implementation in some cases. More concrete action in the field is therefore expected, for all EU regions to reach an acceptable economic level. Major gaps are still there between the West and the East of Europe, as well as between the North and the South and sometimes even among the various regions of the same country.
Basescu – Ponta row
This week, President Basescu and the Government have contradicted and gibed at one another over the nomination of the Romanian European commissioner. The president said on B1TV Tuesday night that there was no doubt about Corina Cretu’s name as European commissioner or about the portfolio Romania was going to get and noted that he would give details on the ‘joke in Brussels’ after the official announcement to be made by the EC president. Asked if he had been involved in the negotiation of the position for Romania, the president answered: ‘Definitely yes’, and refused to say if the PM had negotiated as much as him. Basescu said ‘a lie was the fact that the PM mentioned very tough negotiations’. ‘The tough negotiation is for a single position on the Commission – the High Representative for Foreign Affairs’, the head of state also noted.
On Monday, Traian Basescu said Romania would have in the EC a portfolio ‘we will not be ashamed of’ and pointed out that the list where Corina Cretu had an ‘unconvincing’ portfolio was ‘a joke launched from Brussels’, PM Ponta ‘got scared of’. Victor Ponta replied that, if the fact that Romania would receive the Humanitarian Aid portfolio was a joke from Brussels, as President Basescu claimed, it means that all the ‘losers’ who passed on the information in Romania had not understood that it was a joke.