European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday told a Parliament plenary meeting in Bucharest that he is proud to have participated in a “crucial moment” for the life of the
Community – Romania’s accession to the EU.
“I am very happy to return to Bucharest, I know that sometimes saying this might seem a cliché; the last time I was here in 2003, it is a real honor to be able to speak today in the Parliament where you represent the Romanian people, a courageously committed people, whom I have been loving for so long. This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Romania’s EU accession and I remember with excitement the historic date of January 1, 2007, when Romania joined the club of European nations, reconciled with each other. We united on that occasion”, the European official said.
He underscored that he has always supported Romania’s joining the European Union.
“I accompanied you in my then capacity as Luxembourg Prime Minister on this track of accession, not in a paternalistic manner, but as a brother. I met the Presidents and Prime Ministers of democratic Romania. (…) Through a happy coincidence, in December 1997, in an EU Council meeting, we decided on Romania’s later accession. (…) This is more than an event, it is a powerful symbol, a close relationship that was born between Romania and Luxembourg and the Europeans, these are heartfelt relations that involve feelings, human warmth”, Juncker said professing his deep friendship to the Romanian people.
He went on to say that many Europeans are not aware of the effort put in by Romanians, they are unaware of the performance of an entire country which succeeded to transform in a short time its judicial, economic, political, social systems and harmonize them with the underlying principles of the European construction.
“It is no coincidence that I entrusted to Mrs. Commissioner Corina Cretu the task of the European solidarity policy, by excellence the cohesion policy. And I must say here that Mrs. Cretu does an extraordinary job in Brussels. Between 2007 and 2013 European funding also provided support to Romania. (…) I am happy about the road we have put behind and let us remember that this was a difficult road that required a lot from everyone. (…) I would like to congratulate the Romanian people for their courage. It is this courage, this willpower that have always impressed. At the same time I’m also thinking about the CVM and the reforms that still have to be completed by the end of my term”, said the President of the European Commission.
“Romania must become Schengen member as soon as possible, well-deserved place”
The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) is well conceived and no new criteria and exigencies have to be introduced in addition to those already in place, the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker stated on Thursday in Parliament’s plenary sitting, adding that Romania deserves its rightful place in the European Union and in the Schengen area.
According to the EC President, Romania has “made important efforts” over the past 10 years in the reform of the judicial system’s reform and in the fight against corruption, stressing that the conclusion of the CVM should not mean “the end or withdrawal of reforms”.
The end of the CVM process means even more cooperation, since it is essential, as European solidarity is a bond of commitment between our states and our peoples and, after the end of this mechanism, cooperation will continue. This is the absolute priority. You know that you can count on the whole support of the Commission through its Structural Funds in particular. And I will militate, by the Romanian authorities, in order to guarantee the irreversible character of the progress made, showed the President of the European Commission.
At the same time, he specified that the two “essential” stakes for Romanian society are respect for the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers in the state.
Our fellow citizens’ trust must be earned. This is done by observing the independence of the judiciary and by separating the powers in the state. These are two essential stakes for the Romanian society and for the young Romanians who are the carriers of the future’s promises. This is your most precious asset – these young people who are attached to democratic values and the rule of law. Their expectations, their legitimate hopes, have to be taken into account, Juncker added.
The President of the European Commission stressed that Romania should become a member of the Schengen area as soon as possible.
Romania deserves its natural place in the bosom of the European Union and in the Schengen area. The criteria for accession to the Schengen area have been clear and here, I am saying it once again, we must not render these criteria any harder. Romania must be able to become a member of the Schengen area as soon as possible because it is a well deserved place, concluded Jean-Claude Juncker.
Dragnea: EU’s goal is to lower disparities and differences; nobody should be left behind
Lower Chamber Speaker Liviu Dragnea stated on Thursday, at the joint plenary meeting which was attended by EC President Jean Claude Juncker, that the European Union’s goal is to lower the disparities and diminish the differences, so that in the future the Union could function at the same rhythm or intensity, being essential for nobody to be left behind.
“There was talk about the necessity to create a stronger economic power, ready to live up to global challenges. There was talk about a democratic unification of member states, about the lowering of discrepancies between states in order to generate prosperity for all European citizens. These were the objectives set by the Union’s founding fathers. These reasons are just as relevant today too, they are included in the Rome Declaration of 25 March 2017, signed and undertaken by all member states,” Liviu Dragnea stated.
The PSD leader added that “the Declaration’s first paragraph talks about a single Union, a community of peace, of democracy, of liberty, of human rights and of rule of law, a major economic power.”
“That’s how the EU should be, this is the description we should have in view when the changes that must be made in the way the Union functions will be decided,” the Lower Chamber Speaker added.
Lower Chamber Speaker Liviu Dragnea also stated that the European Union’s goal is to lower discrepancies and diminish differences so that the Union will in the future have the same rhythm or intensity, being essential not to leave anyone behind.
Liviu Dragnea pointed out that “the Rome Declaration also talks about different rhythms and intensities.”
“I’m doing my duty, esteemed Mr President, by telling you that this expression has been widely commented in Romania, with a lot of emotion and sometimes even with a lot of concern. I believe the goal of the Union, as seen also by the Union’s founding fathers, who laid the bases of this supranational construct, is to lower the discrepancies, to diminish the differences, so that in a more or less near future, the Union would function at the same rhythm and intensity. By different rhythms I understand that those who are lagging behind must be helped to walk at a faster rhythm. It’s essential for no one to be left behind,” the Lower Chamber Speaker emphasised.
Liviu Dragnea told Jean Claude Juncker that he will have a strong and loyal friend in him and the Romanian Parliament.
“I want to tell you from the start that, in my opinion, he is the first European official who is speaking, within the Romanian Parliament, with respect about Romanians and Romania. For this, Mr President, you will have a strong and loyal friend in me and the Romanian Parliament,” Dragnea said.
The Lower Chamber Speaker claimed that “the EU is going through transformations that were unthinkable until now.”
“The future is being renegotiated, the structure, the institutions are starting to be rearranged, it’s a pivotal moment of profound change and any situation of this kind always generates two types of effects. On one hand there’s a natural fear, because change means something other than the things we are accustomed to,” he added.
Liviu Dragnea added that, on the other hand, “a change of such a magnitude can represent an extraordinary opportunity.”
“I believe that, faced with this moment, the European Union has the chance to relaunch itself, to become stronger, closer to Europe’s citizens, to get rid of inefficient mechanism and to stress the aspects that proved successful. (…) We must relate to the reasons that stood at the basis of constructing the Union,” the PSD President added.
Tariceanu: EU was the political embodiment of some hopes which the pragmatic rationality would consider as deceiving
Senate’s Speaker Calin Popescu-Tariceanu stated in the plenum of the Parliament convened for the speech of Jean-Claude Juncker that the European Union project succeeded to overturn Tucidide’s dictum according to which “hope is a bad adviser for politicians”.
Calin Popescu-Tariceanu began his speech with a quotation from the Greek historian Tucidide: “Hope is a bad adviser for politicians”. Senate’s Speaker added that hopes which the founding states of the European Union had, succeeded to overturn the historian’s dictum.
“The Treaty and the public policies implemented when EU was founded, were the political embodiment of some hopes which Tucidide considered to be deceiving, in the name of a pragmatic rationality (…) The founders couldn’t predict how liberating the project they designed is” Tariceanu stated.
He said that the main reason for which the post-communist Romania went to EU was less related to the promise of welfare, and rather related to the Romanians’ European identity.
“Romania could have its whole identity only in EU. 10 years after the integration, we can say that Tucidide wasn’t right. Romanians’ hope was a good adviser” Tariceanu added.
Kelemen: Romania’s future must continue to be projected inside EU; freedom and security never came from the East
President of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), Kelemen Hunor, stated in the joint plenum which was attended by the President of the European Commission (EC), Jean-Claude Juncker that Romania’s future must continue to be projected inside a stronger Union, given that history showed to us that freedom, prosperity or security never came from the East, the only one that came from there being “the communist Securitate”.
“Our belief hasn’t changed, Romania’s future must continue to be projected inside a stronger Union. History showed to us that freedom, prosperity or security never came from the East, yet there was a single exception, the communist Securitate, and it affected us very, very deep” Kelemen Hunor stated.
He wished to mention that “we need more Europe, we need a profoundly reformed Europe, a Europe which is much closer to the citizens”.
“In the context of the global competition, only a stronger Union can be a winner and provide peace, stability, prosperity and freedom of its citizens. The most powerful stets in the continent couldn’t succeed by their own and on a long term. There is no alternative, either we’ll succeed together, with all the necessary efforts and compromises, or we waive the post successful continental political project. But in this case we will irremediably lose” Kelemen Hunor added.
The UDMR MP claimed that “a multi-speed Union on a long term would be a catastrophic process, it would cause major frustrations, it would make some people to search other solutions and it would mean tensions and conflicts”.
“Sooner or later, we must discuss about the sovereignty matter in the most serious way, we must reconsider the power distribution and establish a new balance between the member states” Kelemen Hunor concluded.
Turcan: In Romania, the main cleavage is between those who back anticorruption fight and those who oppose it with all their power
National Liberal Party (PNL) President Raluca Turcan stated on Thursday, in the speech she gave after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s address, that “the main cleavage” in Romania is between those who support the fight against corruption and those who oppose progress in this domain, against the backdrop in which citizens want more integrity and transparency.
“In Romania, the main cleavage is between those who support the fight against corruption and those who oppose, with all their power, any progress in this domain. The Romanian citizens’ expectation is the same as that of European citizens: integrity, transparency and efficiency in the public life. These principles are the foundation of trust between citizens and the political class,” Raluca Turcan stated during the joint plenary meeting of the Lower Chamber and the Senate.
In fact, citizens’ expectations toward the political class have risen throughout the European Union, the PNL leader stated.
Some of the European citizens’ obvious crisis of confidence in the European project, but also the rise of populist discourse and of isolationist projects, is worrisome. “Populism and demagoguery get a foothold where citizens are transformed – by political leaders ignoring them – into a silent mass,” Turcan said.
The PNL leader emphasised that, during the 10 years that have passed since its EU accession, Romania has enjoyed important benefits as European Union member state. On the other hand, Romania has contributed to the solidity of the European project too. “Romania has left its mark through responsibility, predictability and a complete attachment toward the EU. Romania has proven it is a reliable partner of the European Union, almost religiously pro-European, with a firm commitment toward integration,” Turcan added.
Nicusor Dan: The parties that governed in the last 10 years should take responsibility if EU accession hasn’t brought the desired benefits
Save Romania Union (USR) President Nicusor Dan stated on Thursday, at the joint plenary meeting attended by EC President Jean Claude Juncker, that the political parties that have governed in the last 10 years should take responsibility if Romania’s EU accession has not brought the benefits desired by Romanians, considering the hesitant steps taken in the fight against corruption and in the ability to tap European grants “to the maximum.”
“However, if Romania’s EU accession did not bring all the benefits that the citizens expected, this is mostly due to the parties that have governed in the last 10 years. They must take responsibility, among other things, for the hesitant steps taken in the fight against corruption, in the ability to tap European grants to the maximum, for the inexistence of an Eurozone accession timetable and for the lack of a strong and more active European profile for Romania,” Nicusor Dan stated.
The USR member of the Lower Chamber pointed out that Romanians have a strong attachment to European values.
“And we’ve seen it early this year, in a context you know very well, when hundreds of thousands of citizens spontaneously proved their affiliation to European values. For weeks on end, they demonstrated in the street for the values of the rule of law, of democracy. (…) The Romanian and EU flag that Romanian citizens created during those days and nights was breaking news throughout the world and conveyed a principle of European civism in a Europe threatened by Euroscepticism, populism and nationalism,” Nicusor Dan emphasised.
He added that the party he leads is born “out of civil society, formed by people who were not engaged in politics before.”
“USR supports Romania’s integration – as strong as possible – in the European construct. You’ll permanently have a solid and credible partner in USR, a party that will never use doublespeak when talking about European values,” the USR President concluded.
President Iohannis offers reception on Europe Day: EU affiliation benefits to Romania, undeniable
President Klaus Iohannis said on Thursday that the benefits of Romania’s affiliation to the European Union are undeniable.
“For Romania, the benefits of the affiliation to the European Union are undeniable,” Iohannis underscored, at the reception offered on Europe Day at the Cotroceni Palace, attended by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
He added that, without the support of the European family, the progresses would have taken place slower or not at all.
“The consolidation of democracy and the institutional modernisation, economic growth, intensification of commercial exchanges and foreign direct investments, entrepreneurship, access to EU structural and cohesion funds are benefits which we mustn’t forget even a second. All these are not just a mere enumeration. There are realities that changed, in the most concrete manner, the daily life of each Romanian. Let us remember, at the same time, the rights which Romanians have as European citizens. Their possibility to travel freely, the opportunity to study or work in EU member states are but some of the most important,” Iohannis showed.
He said that the EU shaped Europe, turning it into a space of consolidated democratic values.
“The Union has never before crossed a more complicated period than now, it must simultaneously deal with profound crises. There are multiple challenges that we must manage, be them in respect to the security situation at the EU borders, to need to reconfigure the European project now, when for the first time in its history a member state leaves the Union, be them in respect to the terrorist threats or the proliferation of Euro-skeptic, xenophobic trends. There are difficult tests that try our determination, solidarity and maybe the most important thing that defines this project – unity. I believe that the best response to these challenges is a more united and solidary Europe, in solutions and approaches. The lessons of the past have proved that the Union came out strengthened from crisis situations through common, efficient and sustainable solutions. I am positive that the European project will continue to develop if we remain faithful to the values which the entire EU construction is built on, democracy, liberty, diversity and tolerance,” Iohannis showed.
He highlighted that after ten years of membership Romania keeps its deep pro-European vision.
Iohannis pointed out that Romania’s objectives concerning the EU are: the consolidation of the European project and the support as only viable alternative a sturdy construction based on unity and respect and fundamental values.
“After one decade in the EU, we can clearly say that the report is a positive one, but the progresses registered by Romania all this time are more than obvious. The accession certainly had its costs, but these were exceeded by far by the benefits brought. (…) The European option represented to us the orientation to the shared values of some of the oldest and most consolidated democracies. What makes us rightful members of the EU are mostly the principles and values which we, Romanians, are genuinely drawn to. It is precisely thanks to this real inclination of the Romanian society to the European culture and values that our country could shape up a solid profile inside the Union and proved each time necessary the commitment and loyalty for supporting the European unity, cohesion and solidarity. During the ten years of membership, Romania has defined more and more strongly its role in the decision-making process on a European level, particularly in respect to the Union’s efforts of responding to its citizens’ expectations, because (…) people are at the core of the European construction,” Iohannis said.
President Iohannis underscored that the EC President is an important guest, “a good friend of Romania.”
“Thank you, Jean-Claude, for accepting my invitation, and I am glad that I can welcome you in Bucharest, on this special day, in which we celebrate both Europe Day and ten years of Romania’s EU membership,” Iohannis said.
“Romanians are most pro-European citizens of EU”
President Klaus Iohannis emphasized that Romanians are the most pro-European citizens of the EU.
“Romanians are the most pro-European citizens of the Union,” the Head of the state said at a reception organised at Cotroceni Presidential Palace on Europe’s Day.
He pointed out that the European Union represents “freedom, democracy, peace and prosperity”.
“When we say the EU, we say our common future in the great family of prosperous and developed nations,” affirmed President Iohannis.
EC President hopeful Romania’s CVM monitoring will end by the time it takes over EU Presidency
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday expressed his belief that by the time it takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2019, Romania will no longer be monitored through the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (MCV) on justice and will be also a Schengen member state.
In a speech delivered at the reception offered by President Klaus Iohannis in the garden of the Cotroceni Palace, Juncker underscored that a country cannot preside over the European Union while “under the impression” that it is being controlled by the other member states.
This mechanism must be ended and this will be so, said the President of the European Commission.
Jean-Claude Juncker also expressed his hope that by then Romania could also join the Schengen free movement area. As this moment approaches, I would not want new criteria and new requirements to add to the already existing ones, he said.
The European Union is being built in harmony, sometimes at different paces, Juncker remarked, adding that he does not like the idea of a two-speed Europe.
The Romanians might think that the other Europeans would want to set in place another Iron Curtain. This curtain has fallen and we will not repeat the major mistake Europe has made after the war, the European official said.
The head of the EU Executive also voiced his confidence that Romania has a beautiful future ahead due to the talent and courage of the Romanians, who proved they are reliable partners, respected everywhere in Europe. I think Romanians and Europeans can do great things together, Juncker said.
The EC head added that the Romanians must be proud of their European track. We have been enriched by Romania’s presence [in the EU], which has given a new dimension to Europe. We have a vision of the Black Sea that we didn’t have before and we better understand our close neighbors, he said.
Romania is one of the largest members of the EU, but it is also a great nation. We owe Romania its many contributions within the EU, which has become stronger and more diverse after Romania’s accession, added the President of the European Commission, stressing that he will always admire this country.
EC’s Juncker underscores decision to lift special justice monitoring of Romania under his tenure
Access to European funds, the prospects for lifting the special justice monitoring of Romania under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), strengthening democratic institutions and respect for citizens’ rights and liberties were the main topics of visiting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s meetings in Bucharest with European Commissioner Corina Cretu, Speaker of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea and Chairman of the Romanian Senate Calin Popescu-Tariceanu.
The Senate reported in a press statement on Thursday that while in Romania Juncker pointed to a decision of the Eurocent Commission not to add additional benchmarks to the existing ones so that the special monitoring of Romania may be lifted during his term in office.
Tariceanu voiced a desideratum for Romania to be allowed in the border-free Schengen Area as soon as possible, given that Romania is meeting the technical criteria for accession. Part of the CVM talks, Tariceanu underscored the importance of citizens’ rights and freedoms being observed and of representative democratic institutions being consolidated.
Dragnea touched on European funds, underscoring the importance of the Juncker Plan, the request for a republican hospital being completed in Romania under this mechanism as well as the need for red-tape procedures making access to European funds hard. In his conversation with Juncker, Dragnea mentioned the priority of major infrastructure projects being conducted by Romania and the European Commission working closely together.
“In the same context, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu pointed out that 2016 was a lost year in terms of Romania accession European funds, voicing conviction that the access rate will increase significantly in 2017. Moreover, Cretu voiced support for the building of a republican hospital in Bucharest and the openness of the European Commission to grant funds for the project,” reads the statement.
Dragnea is also quoted as requesting that the European Medicines Agency being relocated from the UK to Romania. Juncker said Romania is considered for the relocation of the agency.