The enlargement of the Schengen Area through Romania’s accession will be put forward during Romania’s term at the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Minister of Internal Affairs Carmen Dan announced on Wednesday after the hearing in the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), where she presented the priorities of the half-year EU Presidency regarding home affairs.
”We have grown tired of repeating how unfair our situation is and how rigorous we have been in complying with the acquis. It will be a subject for serious discussion at the informal JHA meeting taking place in Bucharest in February, and we will table the subject to the Council. I think that an extended discussion is also worthwhile and we will discuss the future of the Schengen Area precisely in order to take the pulse and homogenize – I’d say, in a positive sense – the stances of the countries that put up an ungrounded opposition to Romania’s Schengen accession,” said the Romanian IntMin after the LIBE hearing.
Despite severe criticism by several LIBE MEPs – with the Romanian minister stating that the committee “is strongly anchored in the political component of the European Parliament” – regarding the situation of the rule of law and corruption in Romania, Carmen Dan considers it was a good hearing. ”Everything we proposed ourselves for today’s hearing was to show how determined and well prepared we are to manage the files we have in the portfolio. I would not interpret it as a tense hearing, I think it was a good one. I think that in the presentation we, the two ministers gave the committee, we have been able to clearly present the priorities we have undertaken – we should also take into account the time allotted. These are important components and this is why I said in the concluding remarks that we will avoid throughout our term making very ambitious statements because I’d want us to relate to facts rather than words,” added the Romanian Minister of Internal Affairs.
Migration and internal security are two files on the agenda of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, Carmen Dan mentioned, as important components that are of equal concern to European citizens.
During the LIBE hearing this Wednesday, several MEPs voiced concern about the situation in Romania. EPP Group coordinator on justice and home affairs Roberta Metsola referred to the August 10 Bucharest rally, assuring that the Romanian peaceful protesters will not be abandoned.
We are concerned about the plan to invalidate about 100 criminal convictions, said in her turn Sophia in’t Veld, coordinator of the LIBE Liberal group. The Dutch MEP asked the Romanian Executive to take into account the Venice Commission’s recommendations word for word.
MEP Helga Stevens from the European Conservatives and Reformists said that the situation in Romania is most worrisome these days, and asked the Romanian government to refrain from taking any measures that would actually legalize corruption.
The Romanian Minister of Internal Affairs responded to these criticisms in statements to the press after the LIBE hearing.
“I have not been able to answer in the committee because a direct question was avoided, although I know that there is a scenario in this sense, but I take this opportunity and answer to you. I will not forget even for one moment that as I sit in that chair, in that position, I am not the Minister of Internal Affairs of Romania, but I am the minister who ensures the Chairmanship of the JHA Council. Because I wouldn’t have wanted anyone to understand that we are avoiding the answer, or that we facilitate putting together scenarios and hypotheses that have nothing to do with reality, I would have liked to make some clarifications about the protests, because they have been quite often invoked by the MEPs who, we have to admit it – and this applies to the LIBE Committee too – are already in electoral campaign. I tell you that we should start from the fact that we are talking about an unauthorized and therefore illegal protest. Then we should not forget that there was something particular about the August 10 rally, as the far from few violent people were deep in the crowd of protesters, in the 3rd, 4th or 5th rank and used those in front of them as a real human shield to attack the gendarmes. And then, we should also not forget about the criminal files and talk about decisions that, regrettably, have been handed down in just one case, and there we are dealing with indictments, and it’s not the gendarmes who were sent to court. I believe that Romania, like any other European country, has the same methods of addressing public order issues and restoring it when required, has the same regulations and takes action just like any other EU state when public peace and order are disturbed,” said the Romanian IntMin.
PNL’s Orban: Hearing of Toader, Dan reveals Government’s tremendous credibility issue
Chairman of National Liberal Party (PNL) Ludovic Orban is critical of Minister of Interior Carmen Dan and Justice Minister Tudorel Toader’s hearings in the European Parliament, saying that their statements have embarrassed Romania.
“Tudorel Toader and Carmen Dan have embarrassed Romania in the European Parliament. (…) The hearing of the two ministers revealed the tremendous credibility issue of the current Government at the level of the European Union,” says Orban in a press release issued on Wednesday for AGERPRES.
He points out that Tudorel Toader has refused to make a commitment not to initiate further amendments to the legislation in the field of justice and the criminal field without having previously received the Venice Commission’s advice after express request to do so. Orban also states that the Minister of Justice has in no way explained his position on the CVM Report, preferring instead to “lie” on the implementation of the recommendations of the Venice Commission in the Romanian legislation.
“Today’s hearing of the Minister of Justice will cause serious damage to Romania at the level of the European Union, which will be even greater in the context of Romania’s holding the Presidency of the EU Council,” says the PNL leader.
Ludovic Orban also criticizes the statements of the Minister of the Interior regarding the accession to the Schengen area.
“Carmen Dan announced, shockingly, that Romania refuses to take the following steps for joining the Schengen Area, respectively to request the evaluation of the correct application of the acquis communautaire. Basically, the Romanian Government announces on its own blocking the accession to Schengen, ‘now or in the future.’ For imposture and hypocrisy to be complete, the Minister of the Interior argued that Romania aims to lift the CVM, while the Minister of Justice did not say a word, given that the Government and the PSD-ALDE majority not only did they not follow any of the recommendations of the latest CVM Report, but they acted exactly against them!,” stresses the leader of the Liberals.
He said that “the only way Romania must follow to be respected in the European Union, for the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism be lifted, and to join the Schengen Area is that these people sent to represent the country in Brussels understand that they cannot lie to European officials and must respect fully and to the letter the recommendations of the Venice Commission, of the European Commission through the CVM Report and of the European Parliament in the Resolution adopted in November 2018.”
“Otherwise, Romania will become increasingly marginalized in the European Union and will be deprived of the chance to capitalize on the benefits of the EU membership, at the risk of having blocked or reduced the funds necessary for the development and balancing of the welfare at the level of the other member states, concludes Ludovic Orban.