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President Iohannis: Agreement on Brexit, the best possible; non-discrimination between EU members set out in Political Declaration. I have differences of opinion with the Gov’t, but not in the field of preparing the Presidency of the Council of the EU

President Klaus Iohannis stated that the Brexit withdrawal agreement is the best possible, pointing out also that non-discrimination between the EU member states was set out in the Political Declaration, providing as example the visa-free travel for the Romanians wishing to visit afterwards.

“Today, we have completed the talks in a record time. The EU-27 EU Council agreed the Withdrawal Agreement draft, endorsed the Political Declaration on future relations. These two very important documents are extremely important. The Withdrawal Agreement is to be used if it gets approved by all Parliaments involved in order to clarify in detail the aspects regarding the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, a document which is of great importance for us as well, because it is stipulated, for example, how the Romanians in the UK are to be treated, how the aspects of the Financial Framework in which we are now until 2020 are to be carried out and so many other things, a very comprehensive document, very well drafted. This is a document drawn up in one-and-a-half-year, the limits or the mandate imposed by the European Council at that time were observed very well. (…) It is the best possible Agreement and deserves to be taken as such and it deserves approval,” the head of state said after the extraordinary meeting of the European Council (Article 50) in Brussels.

He underscored that little changes for the Romanians residing in the UK.

“If this agreement enters into force, it protects Romanians and other Europeans living in the UK, they are guaranteed all the rights they have obtained. (…) They can work, study, get pensions, insurance. The aspects are clarified in detail and very well. We have been very concerned about these matters and we have successfully insisted up to this stage that these things be cleared very well. Moreover, we have insisted and achieved to clarify non-discrimination between EU members in the Political Declaration on the future relations. For instance, visa-free travel for the Romanians who will later travel to the UK and these things have been clarified in the way we want. This agreement is one that we find appropriate, we find it good and we want it to be approved,” Iohannis explained.

The head of state also said that despite achieving a good Agreement, this day cannot be considered a happy one.

“The event remains one that, I think, makes the majority of us sad if we realize its importance, a major member state leaves and that cannot be good news, but beyond this thing, the existence of an agreement would make this separation manageable and achieve a very solid legal foundation. There are further steps to take, the next step will be the approval of this withdrawal agreement in the British Parliament after which (…) the Council of the European Union must formally approve it and the European Parliament has to vote on this agreement,” Iohannis stated.

He gave assurances that this Agreement will be completed during Romania’s Presidency of the Council of the EU.

“I guarantee you, if it gets approved, the Romanian Presidency [of the EU Council] is to complete it,” President Iohannis stated.

 

“Romanians’ rights are perfectly protected if Brexit withdrawal agreement gets endorsed”

 

Prior to attending the extraordinary meeting of the European Council in Brussels, President Klaus Iohannis stated the draft agreement regarding the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union is a very good one for Romania, adding that in the current form, the Romanians’ rights are perfectly protected.

“Today, we have only one topic on the agenda, it is the discussion on the draft Agreement on the UK’s withdrawal, the Brexit Agreement. We need to understand well what is this about. The withdrawal of UK from the European Union has two important phases: the withdrawal and the future relations that will be established afterwards. We are talking about the Withdrawal Agreement today. It is very important because without such an agreement nothing remains established between the EU and the UK. This agreement has long been negotiated in detail, by the EU 27 (…) we established a team of negotiators with a chief negotiator, Mr Barnier, a team that did a very good job. We supported them, at the same time, we took care that the points we are interested in be very well clarified in this draft agreement and, so far, I can say that we are very pleased with the draft. The draft reflects all our concerns and the fate of the Romanians in the UK, the funding of the EU budget and many, many other things. It is an agreement that has about 500 pages and our opinion is that the draft is good, it’s worth moving forward, ” President Iohannis stated ahead  the European Council in Brussels.

He underscored that the Romanians’ rights “are perfectly protected” if this draft agreement gets approved.

“The rights of the Romanians, if this agreement passes, are perfectly protected. (…) It is very suitable for us if this agreement comes into force,” the head of state said.

The goal of the extraordinary meeting of the European Council is the endorsement of the draft Agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Moreover, members of the European Council  also discussed the political declaration on future EU-UK relations.

After the draft is agreed by the leaders of the EU member states, the Brexit withdrawal agreement will be formally approved in the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament and ratified by the British Parliament.

 

“I have differences of opinion with the Gov’t, but not in the field of preparing the Presidency of the Council of the EU”

 

President Klaus Iohannis stated on Sunday, in Brussels, that even though he has several differences of opinion with the Government, Romania’s preparations for the takeover of the Presidency of the Council of the EU is not among them, pointing out that he does not intend to export internal disagreements.

“Everything they do for this Presidency is much better. People understand we want to have a successful Presidency. Of course they have concerns, they felt work is still needed until it functions, but I’m really more optimistic than I was several weeks ago. I have differences of opinion with our Government in very many fields, but not in the field of European affairs and not in the field of preparing the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. We must understand that political fighting is one thing, this is the desire to be successful for the Presidency of the Council of the EU. We are collaborating for the Presidency. I do not intend to transfer the differences in foreign policy for the Presidency and I don’t believe that is the Government’s intention,” President Klaus Iohanis stated at the end of the European Council summit that took place on Sunday in Brussels.

The Head of State added that he received signals from European officials that things are moving well in the field of Romania’s takeover of the Presidency of the Council of the EU.

“I was told in Brussels that things are moving in the field of the practical and logistical preparations. We were behind schedule with several logistical matters, things that had to work on day one, and I was assured that most have been unblocked by the new minister and things are going in a good direction,” Iohannis explained.

The Romanian President added that he does not want to make any comments on the activity of former European Affairs Minister Victor Negrescu, who has resigned, but pointed out that things are better at present.

“I don’t want to appraise Negrescu’s work, but it’s much better now,” the Head of State concluded.

On November 12, Klaus Iohannis stated that Romania is not ready to take over the Council of the European Union, considering that the responsible members of Government are leaving or are being replaced and “things have gone haywire.”

In response, Premier Viorica Dancila stated that the President has made a personal obsession out of toppling the incumbent Cabinet. She called on Klaus Iohannis to stop making such statements.

Minister Delegate for European Affairs Victor Negrescu has recently resigned, being replaced by George Ciamba. On November 14, at the swearing-in ceremony, Klaus Iohannis told the members of Government and the Prime Minister, who were in attendance, that a reasonable preparation for the presidency of the Council of the EU can still take place.

 

“I assured the Finnish Premier that he won’t get the Presidency on January 1”

 

Klaus Iohannis stated on Sunday, at the European Council, that he talked with Finnish Premier Juha Sipila, telling him that he will not get the Presidency of the Council of the EU on January 1, pointing out that they both laughed and the foreign official accepted that.

Asked, at the end of the European Council summit, for his comment on the Finnish Premier’s statement, through which he expressed Finland’s openness to start its Council of the EU presidency in January 2019, Klaus Iohannis said: “It’s a press story. (…) You probably know that within the European Council I sit next to the Finnish Premier, and today I assured him that he will not get the Presidency on January 1, and we both laughed, and he accepted that. So those things lack real grounds. It was a reaction generated by someone from the Finnish press, without there being real grounds for this sort of thing. They are our friends and we will move forward together.”

The Head of State’s reaction comes against the backdrop in which Finnish Premier Juha Sipila proposed, on November 13, that Finland should take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU in Romania’s place. Bucharest stated that that is not necessary.

Against the backdrop of political tensions in Romania and of President Klaus Iohannis’s statement that our country is not ready to take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU, Finnish Premier Juha Sipila expressed the Finnish Government’s openness to start its Council of the EU Presidency in January 2019.

Juha Sipila emphasised that Bucharest did not make that request, pointing out that, on the contrary, the Romanian Government confirmed that it will take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU as scheduled, the STT press agency and the YLE station informed.

Romania is scheduled to hold the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2019, for six months, and Finland to do so in the second half of the year.

 

 

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