The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Europe President Hans van Baalen stated in an interview for RFI that Romania must take seriously the recommendations made by the Venice Commission and GRECO on the rule of law. “That’s very important, but we will judge Romania on the total presidency of the Council of the European Union, and not on one single point, no matter how important it may be”, he said, mentioning that in his opinion our country is ready to hold the rotating presidency.
Asked about the main challenges for Romania at the presidency of the EU Council, Dutch MEP Hans van Baalen, who is also the President of the ALDE Europe party, stated that Romania “is an important state in the region – Moldova, Ukraine, Russia”, and he hopes that it will be “to get the security situation on the table and can also work from the European presidency with the United States, to have a firm position towards Russia and the Russian aggression in the region”.
“That is important, I think. Of course, we have ongoing businesses, like Brexit, the situation in the Magreb and in the Arab world, the situation with the trade with USA. So there is a lot on the plate of the Romanian presidency of the European Union”, he added.
According to van Baalen, “Romania should be an efficient mediator, to bring the 28, respectively the 27 states, after Brexit, together, to formulate common positions, this is very important. Secondly, you asked me what it should not do. We have Barnier, who is negotiating with the British in the name of the 27 member-states of the Union, so Romania should not do his work. Romania should make it possible that Barnier and May get through the House of Commons on the Brexit agreement, otherwise we’ll have a cold, iced Brexit, bad for all of us”.
He also said that “it is very important that GRECO and the Venice Commission are taken seriously”, in the context of the criticism against Bucharest by the European Parliament and the European Commission because of the amendments brought to the Laws on Justice.
“Of course, it has an impact, but also from the ALDE group in the European Parliament and ALDE party, which I chair, we have said we find it very important that Venice Commission and GRECO are taken seriously in their advice to Romania before the state of law and the rule of law. That’s very important, but we will judge Romania on the total presidency of the Council of the European Union, and not on one single point, no matter how important it may be”, van Baalen stated.
Also, the ALDE Europe Chairman doesn’t appreciate that Romania is a non-typical president of the EU Council.
“No, no, I wouldn’t say so. I said so in the more positive way, its geo-strategic position in the region, its relations with the USA and NATO are important favorable arguments. If you look at other presidencies, every presidency has weak and strong points, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a small country or a big country, from eastern Europe or western Europe. We have to judge after six months how productive the presidency of Romania has been. Let us be optimistic and let us hope that Romania is able to reform the rule of law in a positive way, with the advice of the Venice Commission and other bodies of the Council of Europe.”, he said.
Asked if Romania is ready to hold the presidency of the Council of the European Union, he said this “will not be a problem”.
“I’ve experienced also a German presidency long ago, which was not that well organized, although it is a big country, with a lot of experience. And we say small presidencies, of Belgium, or the Netherlands, or Denmark, which were good. So, let us judge over half a year how Romania stands, but I’m optimistic. Melescanu is a good minister, who knows Europe very well, so I’m confident that it will be a positive presidency”, van Baalen stated.
Asked about his recommendation to his colleagues in the ALDE Romania party, regarding the rule of law, he said: “As you probably know, we had a n ALDE Congress in Madrid, in the last year, in which we discussed very openly with our ALDE Romanian colleagues about the future and the rule of law. I would say the Venice Commission is very important, and we will look how ALDE Romania will take into account the recommendations of this Commission and its conditions, and I think that we will work very positively with ALDE Romania on that”.