DIPLOMACY

Estonian ambassador Frosch: It takes wide-scale staff training to take over EU Council’s presidency

Estonia’s ambassador in Bucharest Ants Frosch said Wednesday that in order to take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union any EU member state has to invest in wide-scale staff training, adding that Estonia wants to continue its excellent cooperation with Romania.

“I am sure that Romania has huge resources here, and it should not find it as hard as Estonia, which has only 1.4 million inhabitants, does,” Frosch told a news conference that marked Estonia taking over the six-moth rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. “Such an opportunity provides in the future hundreds, and even thousands in Romania’s case, of well-trained young people. That generates a change in the future,” said Frosch.

Also attending the news conference hosted by the European Commission Representation in Bucharest was Romania’s Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu.

In his speech, Melescanu mentioned the preparations by the Romanian staff of Romania’s taking over the rotating presidency in the first half of 2019 and the employment caps in place his ministry.

He said emphasis will be placed on staff training. “As far as preparations for Romania’s presidency are concerned, one of the most important instruments to be finalised theses days will be an agreement with France’s Ecole Nationale d’Administration that will provide a training programme for the Foreign Ministry’s central office staff, the Permanent Representation in Brussels and various specialist ministries,” said Melescanu.

Adding to these preparations will be various training and cooperation projects involving Romanian universities. “We are faring quite well,” the minister said.

He went on to say that his ministry will not be able to hire staff because there are employment caps in place set by the government. “What we can do is find volunteers. And there is very advanced cooperation with various NGOs in this area and then there can be employment for a definite time using funds from the budget earmarked for the presidency of the Council of the European Union,” said Melescanu.

In his turn, the Estonian ambassador said he has had excellent cooperation with Romanian officials.

“The Romanian team for the presidency has cooperated quite well with the team of our ministry. I can see very active and serious cooperation on the part of the Romanian colleagues, and certainly it is not too late,” said Frosch.

He added that security and digital agenda are the main priorities of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union. “Citizens must be the centre of our attention,” he said, adding that “security is the main thing citizens are expecting from the European Union.”

“We want to continue the excellent cooperation with Romania, the country that will hold the presidency in 2019,” he said.

In his turn, Melescanu mentioned Romania’s contributions toward EU security.

“We are joining our Estonian colleagues in improving security inside the EU, while securing defence cooperation between the member states that are in the Schengen Area and those outside the area,” said the Romanian chief diplomat, adding that the border-free Schengen Area is one of the greatest benefits to the European Union citizens generated by European integration.

“We are still convinced that by joining the Schengen Area, Romania will fully contribute toward consolidating the area and security inside the European Union,” said Melescanu.

He added that he wants the H1 2019 Romanian presidency of the Council of the European Union to be a success story. “We have to be pragmatic and efficient. We have to prove solidarity and common will,” he said.

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