Romania is taking over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from Austria, a trustworthy and good partner, President Klaus Iohannis said on Friday.
“It is a symbolic moment for Romania and we are glad that we are taking over this presidency from such a trustworthy and good partner as Austria,” Iohannis told a joint press conference with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz who came to Bucharest in the context in which, starting 1 January 2019, Romania will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from Austria.
Iohannis underscored the very good institutional coordination and the support offered by Austria for achieving an efficient transition to the EU Council Presidency.
The Romanian head of state hailed the results Austria obtained during its mandate at the helm of the EU Council.
“I voiced our appreciation for the very good institutional coordination between the Austrian and the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council and for the support Austria offered for achieving an efficient transition. I hailed the results the Austrian colleagues have managed to obtain in a series of important files for the entire Union. In this context, I assured Mr. Kurz of Romania’s entire openness and commitment to continue these efforts at European level,” Iohannis pointed out.
He reaffirmed that Romania is ready to take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, while mentioning that he discussed with the Government and he is confident the presidency will be managed “of a reasonable manner.”
“Several weeks ago I said that we are not ready for, at that point, our Minister for European Affairs, unexpectedly and without giving any explanation, withdrew. There was a problem at that point. So that’s why I said what I said for, with the Minister withdrawing, an entire series of measures related to the preparations was blocked; however, in a record time, we managed to overcome the staff shortage crisis, a new Minister in now in office, who is a diplomat with a lot of experience and, that’s how, in a short amount of time, we managed to continue the preparations at the same pace. In the meantime, I can say without any reservations that yes, Romania is ready to take over the presidency, we are ready for this. Yesterday I had a discussions with the Romanian Government and I trust that we will be able to manage of a reasonable manner this presidency, despite the fact that there are also some difficult topics to deal with, such as Brexit, the European Union budget,” Klaus Iohanis underscored at the joint press conference he held with the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
The Austrian Chancellor also said, in his turn, that President Iohannis enjoys the recognition at Council of EU level.
“In respect to the preparations for the presidency, I can speak from the level of the presidency of the Council of EU and I can say that President Klaus Iohannis enjoys recognition, he has experience in the activity of the Council and for me and all the others he is an appreciated partner of dialogue and, in this respect, I know that, at least in what we, me and him, are concerned, the process of handing over – taking over the presidency is without problems,” Kurz said.
Romania’s President announced said that he approached during the talks the topic of the UK leaving the EU, underscoring that this process must take place “of an orderly manner.”
“In respect to the process of UK’s withdrawal from the Union, I reiterated the desire to conclude this process of an orderly manner during our presidency. The withdrawal agreement agreed on a political level by the EU and the UK remains the most efficient instrument for limiting the negative consequences of Brexit and for ensuring the legal certainty for the citizens and the business environment, and the conclusion will allow building a future ambitious partnership between the UK and EU,” Iohannis stated.
The head of state said that EU’s future budget must be balanced and fair.
“Looking towards the future, we agreed that the new 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework represents an opportunity to support the advancement of European policies by setting a balanced and fair EU budget after 2020. In the European Council meeting of 13 – 14 December we assumed the goal of reaching a political agreement on a leadership level on the future budget by the autumn of 2019. Romania, as future presidency, is prepared to commit to a sustained pace for achieving this desideratum,” the President also said.
He mentioned he discussed with Sebastian Kurz the migration issue and the 2019 Sibiu Summit.
“We have discussed the need for security of the European citizens and the need to have a proper response to the migration crisis. Managing migration remains an area that requires the entire attention and we believe we’ll be in the position of making progress in this file. (…) We have also discussed the European Summit of Sibiu, which will take place next year, on the symbolic date of 9 May, a summit devoted to the future of the European Union,” Iohannis said.
Klaus Iohannis mentioned that Romania wants more Austrian investments in Romania.
“On a bilateral level, we have discussed the economic relations and the potential meant to stimulate the intensification of economic exchanges and investments. Although Austria remains one of the main investors on the Romanian market, we are interested in new Austrian investments in Romania, in the context in which Romania offers a lot of opportunities. We have voiced the appreciation for the good integration of the Romanian community in Austria,” Iohannis also said.
Austrian Chancellor thanks President Iohannis for taking care of democracy and rule of law
Austria’s Chancellor Kurz referred to the rule of law state.
“In respect to the rule of law state and democracy, it’s important when dealing with a negative development to react, to try to correct the situation for these two – democracy and rule of law – represent the foundation for cohabiting in peace and liberty, the foundation so that each of us feel safe and live in dignity with human rights in Europe. And, in this respect too, I think that we must be very careful, we must pay attention and act when there are such deviant developments. I am very glad that we have in the Romanian President someone who is a guarantor of these matters, someone who, that he is someone who watches what happens and react to rectify things,” underscored the Austrian Chancellor.
He used the opportunity to thanke Romanian President Klaus Iohannis for taking care of democracy and rule of law.
“I want to thank him for, as President, he took care of democracy, of the rule of law,” the Austrian Chancellor told the Romanian head of state, at the joint press conference they held at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.
Kurz said that the head of state is a “guarantor” of democracy and rule of law.
“Austrian companies could pack their things and leave; I’m not worried”
The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, on Friday stated, regarding the emergency ordinance on the fiscal measures announced by the Minister of Finance, that he is not worried about the Austrian companies, as he knows they could just pack their things and leave.
“I am not worried about the Austrian companies, for I know what Austrian companies operate here in Romania and have invested here. They are big companies like OMV or Erste Bank, companies with activities in many states, while in Romania they only have a small part of their activity. They could just pack their things and leave, so I am honestly not at all worried for these companies. If I were to be concerned about something, then I would be concerned about the Romanian economic environment and for Romania as an investment environment, as I understood that, ever since this idea dropped, certain things happened on Romania’s Stock Exchange, investors got out,” Kurz told the joint press conference he held with President Klaus Iohannis.
The Austrian official also stated that the exit of investors also means there are jobs lost.
“Certain modalities of establishing taxes influence the final prices for the consumers, so I would say that, but this depends on what decision the Government will make, on what the Parliament will decide, if someone wants to think about the economic good, then one should, or it would be useful to think of such measures that not only sound good, but are effective, for otherwise, at the end of the day, people might not afford certain prices or they could lose their jobs, for some investors decided to pack their things and leave. Or it might come to such circumstances in which, if someone thinks to invest in Romania, to think again. Romania has had a very good economic growth in the last years, of 4 per cent, but difficulties can still appear for the people,” stated the Austrian Chancellor.
Asked if such measures determine the investors to leave Romania, the Austrian official said the companies are free to do whatever they please.
“They are not such companies that the Austrian Government could tell what to do, they are free companies on the free market and they decide for themselves. The world market is big. (…) The respective companies are related to the activity in a certain country, of course that an attractive policy draws companies and investments in, but if the fiscal situation is uncertain, when they try to impose such measures, the situation will change. This is not something that I could decide. I am only thinking about the jobs, the people who could lose their income if the banking environment, the companies in the natural gas field are facing certain effects. When making a decision, it is best to take into consideration what happens at the end of the day too,” said Sebastian Kurz.
Iohannis on Gov’t fiscal measures: A negative impact on the economy because they haven’t been prepared
President Klaus Iohannis on Friday said, referring to the emergency ordinance on the fiscal measures announced by the Finance Minister, that such measures clearly have a negative impact on the economy, as they haven’t been prepared, underscoring that he hopes that his call on the government to resume the discussion and come up with a package of explicable measures has been understood.
“I have said since day one that such measures clearly have a negative impact on the economy, as they haven’t been prepared. There has been no preparation, no transparency, no dialogue with the business environment and no explaining of the need of these measures, therefore it is clear that Romania as an economic location will have to suffer. Attractiveness for investors drops or rises depending on the security of the economic environment. I wish high attractiveness for Romania. For the Romanian economy it is very important to be an attractive economic location, for Romanian and foreign companies to wish to develop their business in Romania. Or if on a governmental level we have from one day to another, one week before the end of the year, dropping on the table measures with a profound impact in economy, then certainly many investors will stay and think if it is the case or not to continue or to go develop a business in Romania,” Iohannis told the joint press conference with Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian Chancellor.
He said he hopes the Government understood to resume the discussion and come up with a package with a solid ground.
“It is a shame that this thing isn’t yet understood on a government level, because Romania is an economic location with a great potential. This means more and better paid jobs for Romanians. If we endanger this, it means we are going in the wrong direction. My call was on the Government and I hope it was understood as such, to resume the discussion with the partners, to make the assessment again and come up with a package of measures that are explicable, having a solid ground, that can be put into practice without damaging the Romanian economy,” Iohannis added.
PM Dancila: Austrian Chancellor’s visit, important moment
The Austrian Chancellor’s visit to Romania is an important moment, symbolically marking the handover of the Presidency of the EU Council from the Austrian Government to the Government of Romania and the transition from a protected Europe – the motto of the Austrian Presidency – to a Europe in which cohesion is seen as a common value, said Prime Minister Viorica Dancila.
“We are enjoying the presence of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz today in Bucharest. This is all the more important as it marks the handover of the Presidency of the Council of the EU from the Austrian Government to the Government of Romania, a symbolic handover, because, as you know, the Austrian Presidency ends on December 31, 2018. This is all the more important as the Estonia-Bulgaria-Austria trio will end, Austria being the last state of this trio, and starting January 1, the Romania-Finland-Croatia trio begins, with Romania being the first state of this trio. We discussed about the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, about the important files on the European agenda, about the smooth transition from the Presidency held by Austria to the Presidency of Romania,” Viorica Dancila said at Victoria Governmental Palace on Friday, during the joint statements alongside Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
The Romanian prime minister brought to mind that during the Austrian Presidency of the EU Council, Romania held the shadow presidency and the government ministers participated in the trio’s meetings on the important files on the EU table.
The prime minister mentioned that each minister of her cabinet will take from his/her counterpart the files that will remain during the presidency that Romania is to hold.
The Romanian prime minister said that the talks also addressed the cooperation between Romania and Austria.
“We want cooperation, a bilateral relationship, a better economic and trade relationship, we have proposed a sectoral cooperation between our ministries. We have ministries cooperating very well. The Ministry of Public Finance has a very good cooperation with our counterpart in Austria. We also have other ministries who have a very good cooperation, but there are also areas like IT or research where we need to make further efforts to improve cooperation between the two countries. Today, the presence of the Austrian Chancellor in Bucharest is an important moment, it is a moment that I can say marks the start of a very important period for Romania, the first time when Romania holds the rotating presidency of the EU. I want to congratulate the Chancellor for the Presidency, for the results they obtained, for the approach manner, for the manner of addressing the main challenges at European level, and I am convinced, as I have mentioned, in fact, that, given the level of training that the Romanian Government has, the way in which we treated the takeover of the Presidency will make Romania a successful Presidency,” Dancila said.