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April 20, 2021

President Iohannis at the end of the European Council meeting: Structured cooperation in defence themes not conflicting with NATO

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis stated on Friday at the end of a European Council meeting that the themes regarding the EU’s permanent structured cooperation in defence does not conflict with what is happening inside NATO.

“Within this [European] Council we approved the launching of what is called PESCO [Permanent structured cooperation]. It’s a permanent structured cooperation in the defence area. (…) There has been talk of a defence fund, but, to be perfectly understood, we are not talking about a fund for the purchase of weapons or equipment. It’s about a special for research and coordination. (…) These themes regarding structured cooperation in defence do not conflict (…) in any way with what we are doing inside NATO. There are matters that are not connected to what NATO is dealing with,” Iohannis said.

According to him, there are matters related to coordination and economy.

“There are matters related to coordination and there are matters related to economy, especially the defence industry and for this reason the said fund is an important matter to us, and we want to be part of that project,” Iohannis said.

When asked about the stage of projects in Romania that could be funded from the defence fund, Iohannis said the country’s future Gov’t will have “to delve more deeply into this issue.”

“We are at the stage where we try to build a Gov’t next week, which will delve more deeply into this issue and come up, I hope, with some feasible projects. Therefore, it’s a little too soon to tell you what will result from here, but I requested the successive governments – which are already many – to focus on formulas to revive our defence industry, with some success, but a lot still needs to be done and such fund, in my view, can back us,” Iohannis also said.


“Not under impression Gov’t moved fast regarding the relocation the European Medicines Agency”


Iohannis stated that he was not under the impression that the people in the Romanian Government had moved very fast regarding the relocation the European Medicines Agency.

When asked what Romania’s chances are of housing the European Medicines Agency, the head of state mentioned that Romania has the same chances it had before the meeting of the European Council.

“The same chances it had before. I didn’t have the impression that the Government moved very fast, but the discussion that I had at the [European] Council [meeting] was a very technical one. There has been no talk of where an agency or the other are to go. The Commission made proposals regarding the criteria that must be taken into account,” Iohannis said at the end of a European Council meeting.

According to the head of state, these criteria are the same with the ones used when a new agency is established.

“Essentially, these are the same criteria that we use when establishing a new agency; there are technical, logistics, transport, workforce integration criteria and so on, therefore, nothing sensational,” Iohannis added.


“Everybody agreed sanctions against Russia over Crimea annexation should be extended”


Romania’s President  told journalists  that everybody at the recently concluded European Council meeting agreed that the sanctions against Russia over Russia’s annexation of Crimea should be extended.

“There is a matter that is certainly of interest to us: the sanctions against Russia over Russia’s Crimea annexation. You have certainly heard various opinions; there has been much talk, but I want to be clear that there has been no contradictory talk. Everybody agreed that the sanctions should be extended,” Iohannis said at the end of the European Council meeting in Brussels.

He added that the discussions were somehow prolonged because some of the participants wanted to use this opportunity to delve more deeply into subjects, usually national approaches.


President Iohannis on Brexit: Sequential negotiations are needed


Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis believes that as far as the Brexit negotiations over the UK exiting the European Union are concerned, they should be sequential, with the first sequence to comprise sensitive issues related to citizens, money and Ireland.

“At the end of yesterday’s meeting, we discussed Brexit, which has to do with Article 50, on an EU27 format. We were informed about how negotiations started and that only this Monday was the first round of negotiations. Even before leaving the format [UK’s PM] Mrs May informed us about the UK’s approach. Overall, I can say things sound good for the time being, and I hope some actual results will emerge before this autumn, at a first stage of negotiations. Everybody – both the EU27 and the UK – agreed that sequential negotiations are needed, which means first to be discussed will be sensitive issues related to citizens, money and Ireland, and only a far significant progress is made with these issues will a parallel negotiation be started that in the end will include aspects of future post-Brexit cooperation,” Iohannis said at the end of a summit meeting of the European Council.

He added that these matters have been agreed upon and they give hope for fruitful negotiations.

“In the end, everybody agreed on these matters, which gives us hope for fruitful negotiations (…) What Mrs May proposed in connection with the Europeans living in the UK is a good start, but we should not hurry. We are waiting for the documents to be published by the UK and the EU27 negotiators over this matter, after which a round of negotiations will follow,” added Iohannis.


“Our know-how in Europe should be protected”


Klaus Iohannis said Friday in Brussels, in connection with foreign investment control in Europe, that Europeans’ know-how in the area should be protected.

Iohannis made the statement responding to a question that the European Council summit meeting discussed foreign investment control in Europe in relation to fair protection and maintaining Europe’s free trade agreements but with increased protection and better reciprocity.

Asked about the extent to which the new aspects could affect, say Chinese investment in Romania, Iohannis said the summit debated foreign investment control in Europe more thoroughly.

“This theme was somehow more profoundly discussed, and you should know that the initial text of the conclusions was modified as far as this point was concerned. The notion of screening, which would be a much detailed monitoring, was replaced by analysis. So, the European Commission was tasked with finding ways to analyse these opportunities, so we are no longer talking about screening, which some interpreted as a very tough term that by some tokens would lead to protectionism; that is why the approach was abandoned and, consequently, things do not change a bit, and in fact conclusions cannot change treaties and agreements,” Iohannis said at the end of the European summit in Brussels.

He added that these matters should be followed very attentively.

“Everybody in Europe agrees – which was visible at today’s discussions as well – that we want to go down the free trade path, meaning free-trade based commerce. But we have to abandon naive approaches. There are countries with such approaches, and we have to find the best ways to protect sensitive strategic investment and essentially to protect our know-how in Europe. That is not to say we will close to the world; we do not want extreme protectionism, but additional attention should be paid here,” said Iohannis.

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