European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker stated on Wednesday, in Brussels, after meeting Premier Viorica Dancila and the other members of Government, that the Romanian Government is ready to take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU, the head of the European Executive pointing out that rule of law problems have to do with the bilateral relationship, not with the Presidency of the EU. He expressed his hope that Romania will join the Schengen Area during the current Commission’s term. Premier Viorica Dancila stated that the rule of law is observed in Romania.
“Extraordinarily difficult prerogatives lie ahead for Romania, on the road to the Sibiu Summit we must agree on the main lines of the future financial agreement, of the multiannual financial framework. There are 257 legislative proposals still on the table. The Austrian presidency will finalise several dossiers, but a lot of work will be left for the Romanian presidency in a very brief period, because the European Parliament will conclude its activities in April. We have seen today how well-prepared the ministers are in their fields of activity and I’m convinced that Romania will manage to finalise many projects that are on the table of the Parliament and of the Council. I believe the EC’s programmes and the Romanian Government’s programmes meet in very many points. There are also disagreements in what concerns the rule of law, we discussed this issue, but this issue does not concern the presidency of the Council of the EU, it has to do with the bilateral relationship with the European Commission,” Juncker stated at the joint press conference with Premier Dancila.
“I’m convinced that we will welcome Romania in the Schengen Area by the end of this Commission’s term in office, but there are still efforts to be done,” the European Commission President added.
EC President Jean Claude Juncker: My intention is for Romania to become member of Schengen
President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker reiterated on Wednesday his wish for Romania to become a member of the Schengen Area and for this thing to happen before the end of his mandate at the helm of the European Union Executive, while also mentioning that he made some efforts in this regard.
“My intention still is to make Romania a member of Schengen. As you already know, in the last report [regarding the Mechanism of Cooperation and Verification] I drew attention of the Romanian authorities on some weaknesses and together [the Romanian authorities and the EU ones] we’ll work to complete the preparation of Romania for the Schengen Area. I am certain that this will be achieved and I wish to end my mandate after Romania becomes member of the Schengen Area,” said the EC President, in answering to a question from journalists after the meeting which the European Commissioners had in Brussels with PM Viorica Dancila and members of the Romanian Government.
“Some efforts need to be done, however,” added Juncker, whose mandate will end in October next year.
Jean-Claude Juncker said he was in favour of Romania’s accession to Schengen, most recently on October 23, when he spoke in the plenary sitting of the European Parliament.
“Romanian Presidency of EU Council will be difficult and comes in a crucial time for EU”
The Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU will have “extraordinary difficult” tasks and comes “in a crucial moment for the future of the EU,” President of the European Commission (EC) Jean-Claude Juncker stated after the meeting which the European Commissioners carried out in Brussels with Prime Minister Viorica Dancila and members of the Romanian Government. The European official said he is confident that, although many things need to be made in a short period due to the European Parliament election, the Romanian Presidency has the capability to manage all these tasks, which he estimates that the Romanian ministers are very well trained for.
The Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU “it’s a special event, because Romania just celebrated the Centennial. because is Romania’s first presidency of the Council of the EU,” President of the EC Jean-Claude Juncker told a joint press conference with PM Dancila.
“We had a working meeting with all the Commissioners, that was translated into the Commission’s recognition of the fact that the Romanian Government is well prepared for the Presidency of the EU Council,” head of the EC underscored.
“Without Romania, the European Union wouldn’t be complete, it is complete today,” Juncker stated, adding that he remembers “the emotion” felt on that April day of 2015 when, as the President of the EU Council at that time, he signed the admission agreement of Romania in the EU, a day which he described as one of “reconciliation between geography and history.” “After decades of artificial separation, we have to say it, Romania is today part of the European family, in order to be forever anchored here,” the EC President said.
“The Romanian Presidency comes in a crucial moment for the future of the EU. In the full European Romanian Presidency, the UK will leave the EU on 30 March, next year, it’s a sad date, but Romania will know how to manage the post-Brexit period as well as possible,” thus indicating one of the delicate problems that the Romanian Presidency will manage during its mandate.
“Romania will be confronted with tasks of extraordinary difficulty,” Juncker drew attention, bringing to mind that in this period, when the Summit in Sibiu will take place, it should also be convened the future multi-annual financial framework of the EU (for 2021-2027), for which the European Commission came with 257 proposals, hoping that some of them will be solved by the end of the current Austrian Presidency of the EU Council.
“The Romanian Presidency will have a lot of work in a short period,” because of the European Parliament elections on May, so there will actually be just four months for the Romanian Presidency, the EC President stated.
He also remarked the fact that the Romanian ministers, whom he met on Wednesday in Brussels are “well trained for their tasks” and mentioned that “Romania will manage to solve a large number of proposals resting on Parliament’s [the European Parliament] and the Council’s table.”
Juncker also estimated that there is a convergence of programmes between the Romanian Government and the European Commission, although it is true that there are sometimes “divergences regarding the development of the rule of law,” adding that “this is not a matter related, first of all, to the Romanian Presidency [of the EU Council], but rather to the bilateral relations between Romania and the European Commission, or the European Union.”
“I remain convinced that before the end of the mandate of the current [European] Commission, we will be able to accept Romania as a new member of the Schengen Area. Efforts are still to be made. I believe that they will be made,” Juncker concluded.
Dancila: I reiterated the fact that Romania wants an ambitious but also realistic presidency
“I reiterated the fact that Romania wants an ambitious but also realistic presidency. Ambitious in the sense of carrying through as many dossiers currently on the working table as possible, of having at least a political accord on the multiannual financial framework, of being able to solve as many dossiers as possible from among the 257 dossiers, and I believe this is important. (…) Realistic because we know that Romania will have the role of impartial mediator, enabler of balance and consensus, and I believe we must achieve consensus among member states. Europe is divided from this standpoint and it won’t be easy to achieve this,” Premier Viorica Dancila stated in her turn.
She pointed out that the College of Commissioners will arrive in Bucharest on January 10-11.
Asked about Romania’s intention to challenge the CVM report, Jean Claude Juncker stated: “My intention is for Romania to become member of the Schengen Area. In the latest report, we drew the attention of the Romanian authorities to several weak points. I worked on both sides to improve Romania’s readiness to accede to the Schengen Area and I wouldn’t want to end my term in office before Romania becomes a member, but there are still efforts to be done.”
Answering another question regarding the Romanian presidency of the Council of the EU, Juncker stated: “I would like for Romania to bring the Romanian common sense in the European process.”
In response to a question, Premier Viorica Dancila stated that the rule of law is observed in Romania.
“In Romania the rule of law is observed, and all efforts are made for the judiciary to be independent,” Dancila stated.
She added that Poland, Hungary and Romania should not be placed on the same level. “It’s a special situation and I would like us to take into account this aspect,” the Premier added.
Dancila emphasised that she sees no connection between the rule of law and Romania exercising the rotating presidency of the EU, because in Romania the rule of law is observed: “Considering that I’m convinced – and we are saying – that the rule of law is observed, I see no connection between Romania exercising the rotating presidency and this issue. I consider that Romania has taken important steps, Romania is taking important steps, the rule of law is observed in Romania and, at the same time, I must say that Romania wants a successful presidency.”
Commissioner Cretu: We mobilised at all levels to support the Romanian authorities in achieving successful Presidency
European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu has welcomed the fact that the cohesion policy will be at the core of the priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, adding that the European Commission members mobilised at all levels to support the Romanian authorities.
“We already spoke about the challenges we have ahead. As a commissioner for regional policy I am very pleased to see that the cohesion policy is at the core of the Romanian Presidency. I would like just to say good luck and to reassure you that the commission, of course Mr President and all of us, we are all mobilised at all levels to support the Romanian authorities in achieving a successful Presidency. Thank you very much!” said Cretu.
At a joint news conference held in Brussels with Prime Minister Viorica Dancila and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, after joint meeting of the Romanian government and the European Commission, Cretu also stated that the current level of fraud in European funds is 0.4 percent.
“We have succeeded in having a 3 percent error rate from 5.5-5.8 when I became the commissioner for regional policy. From this, only 0.4 percent is fraud. You know very well that the European Commission has zero tolerance to fraud, and you are right that we have a lot of cases from the OLAF; we suspend immediately all the funds [when fraud is suspected] and we apply financial corrections in order to recover the EU budget. Then, it’s up to the governments to recover from the companies the money, but the EU budget is preserved, and, as I said, now the current level of fraud is less than 0.5 percent from the total of billions invested in the EU countries. We are very strict on that issue,” Cretu said, answering a question from the press.