A press conference to mark the launch of the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union took place on Thursday at the premises of the European Commission Representation in Romania.
Under the slogan “Sustainable Europe – Sustainable Future”, Finland will focus on four priority areas: strengthening common values and the rule of law, making the EU more competitive and socially inclusive, strengthening the EU’s position as a global leader in climate action and protecting the security of citizens comprehensively.
The Ambassador of Finland to Romania Marjut Akola said on Thursday that, in the context of his country’s takeover of the rotating presidency of the EU Council, one of the objectives of this six-month mandate is to strengthen the set of European tools used to support the rule of law.
“There will be some concrete issues to be undertaken, there is the Commission report on Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), so we will also take over the CVM issue to get a conclusion from the Council and we will obviously have an analysis, a discussion on the rule of law. There must be a conclusion on this topic and we hope to reach this conclusion. The idea is to strengthen the set of European tools used to support the rule of law, the Ambassador said at a press conference held at the European Commission Representation in Romania.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor Melescanu said that, given the EU framework for the rule of law, he does not understand why it is necessary to maintain the CVM for Romania and Bulgaria.
“From our point of view, the CVM has no sense in a European Union where there is a global system that refers to observing the rule of law by all countries. So from this point of view, I do not see what the argument is based on which two countries – which had this mechanism in place when joining the EU – I do not see why, for two countries, besides the rule of law mechanism that exists at EU level, you have another mechanism. Obviously, from our point of view we are an open country. The [CVM] mission came here. (…) There is all the availability of dialogue, but really – if you ask me – I cannot tell you why for Bulgaria and Romania another mechanism than the one that applies to all other countries, including Romania and Bulgaria, is needed,” the minister said.
Head of the European Commission Representation in Romania, Angela Cristea, mentioned that there had been discussions about the possibility of suspending the CVM and the continuation of monitoring under the EU Framework for the rule of law, but that for now the CVM is in place for Romania and Bulgaria.
“We have this Rule of Law Framework – and it is under an analysis process to improve it. It is addressed to all member states and what we found when we encountered difficulties in some member states – and Article 7 was triggered – was that this is not necessarily the most effective instrument we have. On the other hand, we have for two member states another mechanism, the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification, and here we look at it if it is still effective. At one point, in the spring of this year, there was a reflection on the functioning of the mechanism in Romania. A reflection in which we came to the conclusion that if we see that the mechanism does not still produces results, then we can suspend it – not close it, but suspend it – and continue monitoring within a wider framework, that is, within the framework provided by this mechanism for the rule of law. At the moment, as far as Romania is concerned, we remain in this monitoring process that the mechanism allows. Yesterday and the day before yesterday we had the first technical mission this year within the CVM,” she said, according to Agerpres.
ForMin Melescanu: We count on Finland to endorse our cause in terms of joining Schengen
Foreign Affairs Minister Teodor Melescanu told a news conference on Thursday, occasioned by the launching of the Finnish Presidency at the EU Council, that Romania counts on Finland’s support in terms of joining Schengen.
“The decision to allow Romania and Bulgaria to join the Schengen Area should be taken into account. We held the Presidency, we tried to act in an honest manner, we tried to follow European priorities. We count on you to support our cause. Finland’s population is equal to the number of Romanians who are working abroad, by leaving the country. The idea is that we have to provide these people the possibility to move freely,” he mentioned at the press conference hosted by the European Commission Representation in Romania, an event which was also attended by Finland’s Ambassador to Romania Marjut Akola.
Melescanu underscored that the EU relations with the countries of the Eastern Partnership should represent a priority for any rotating presidency of the EU Council. He added that the place of the countries in Western Balkans is inside the European Union.
“Romania is a country that believes it cannot speak about the EU without the Western Balkans within the Union. It was one of our priorities. The European Commission recommended the launching of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. We also encourage Serbia and Montenegro to speed up negotiations with the EU. Unfortunately, some problems emerged at this level. Our scheme was to adopt the invitation during the Presidency, but it was decided that it is an issue which should be established by Parliament. Somewhere in September-October, you will surely have the opportunity to launch the invitation to these two countries and encourage other countries to negotiate. Moreover, we hope that Finland will continue the activity, especially with the three countries of the Eastern Partnership which have association agreements with the EU. I’m referring to the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia. Firstly, we should focus on the development of these agreements with the EU and encourage other countries of the Eastern Partnership, such as Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia and others, in view of expanding the relations with these countries. Their contribution to Europe’s security is absolutely valuable in the Eastern Partnership. This is why, I believe that it should be one of the priorities of any presidency, including the Finnish one,” he argued.
The Minister showed that Romania shares the Finnish Presidency’s objective to strengthen the Single European Market and endorse a fair approach in terms of social rights. He voiced support for objectives such as: digitisation, fighting climate change, security, combating hybrid threats. Regarding illegal migration, Melescanu mentioned that our country endorses an involvement of the EU in terms of the development of the country where this phenomenon is more pronounced.
“During our Presidency, one of the key-aspects regarding the promotion of security and EU’s advance as a global actor was the desire to have a closer relationship between the European security aspects and the transatlantic ones. From our point of view, we should avoid as much as possible duplicating the activities of the two organisations,” he stated.
Teodor Melescanu mentioned that, in its mandate, the Romanian Presidency concluded 90 legislative files and organised 1,700 events. He said that it was a good Presidency, despite the fact that there have been some doubts, including at official level, in terms of a successful mandate. “Seven-eight months ago, everybody – even at official, political level – doubted Romania’s ability to assume the EU Council Presidency. I was shocked, because I know that we were working very much. Honestly, when talking about our Presidency, we are talking about two different stages. The first one, the hardest is to prepare for the Presidency. And we had a very good system: an interministerial committee, chaired by Romania’s Prime Minister, that was attended by all Romania’s ministries, which created direct links with other institutions in Romania. Parliament also contributed on its section. Moreover, the SPP [the Protection and Guard Service]. Together we proved a simple, but important thing, we proved that when we are united – I am talking about Romania, as a country, even if, internally, there are debates and competition and difficult situations, when we are ready to work together, starting with Romania’s President until the last specialist of any ministry, we are prepared to deliver good results. Yes, I can confirm, it was a good Presidency and it’s not just my opinion,” Foreign Affairs Minister Melescanu mentioned.