President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday said that the European project is a successful one, with the Union being “strong” economically, but the EU’s “voice” is a “small” one at a global level, which for him, as head of state, is “totally unsatisfactory.”
The head of state said at the official launch of the national debate on the future of Europe, held at the Cotroceni Palace, that the member states must realize that they need to work together more and have common approaches if they want the EU to have a voice similar to its economic power.
“We must not give up our national foreign policy very quickly, but we must become aware, at the same time, that if the EU wants to have a voice at a global level similar to its economic importance and its economy, then we must work much harder and have common approaches, which could be defined as a common foreign and security policy,” Iohannis said, according to Agerpres.
He added that, for the time being, there are no signs that the EU states would like to give up a foreign and national security policy, and these issues are of “vital” importance for Romania as well.
“Foreign policy is a national attribute, it is the most important stone in the crown of sovereignty. So far there are no signs that the EU states would like to give up a foreign policy and national security. Both for Romania and for me these issues are important and, for this reason, we have cultivated and are cultivating relations that are beneficial for Romania and ensure our national security, such as the Strategic Partnership with the US, such as several strategic partnerships we have with different states with which we have very close policies. In economic terms, if we talk about economic security, EU membership is clearly what comes in support of the Romanian economy and not just the economy in abstract terms, but it is an issue that is felt in the pocket of every Romanian,” underscored Iohannis.
In his opinion, the Transatlantic relationship is “the backbone of civilization, of the democratic culture in which we live, based on values, mutual respect, collaboration.”
“These things cannot be replaced by anything and the Transatlantic relationship for us is vital, in the true sense of the word. This applies to us, to Romania, but it is equally valid for the EU. In this sense, I expressly welcomed the new approach that is meant to revive the Transatlantic relationship, which has a security aspect through NATO, and has a deep economic aspect as well, through the economic relationship between the US and the EU,” explained Klaus Iohannis.
He added that the European Union is a successful project, but it doesn’t count in the equation of external crises.
“We are in the EU because we believe in this project, it is a successful project, I would say that the EU is a very successful project and we often forget to talk about these things and leave the space open to the populists and Eurosceptics who are very loud, but they achieve nothing. For we don’t see a populist or a Eurosceptic building the economy or making economic relationships work better. But we do see, if we look around, that the EU is a success in the economic field, in the field of cooperation, and I hope that very soon it will be a success in crisis management too – the Single Market is a very good example in this respect but, unfortunately, if we look at the voice that the EU has globally, we must admit that it’s a small one. Let’s just look at the crises that are on our doorstep, like Syria, for example. Syria has been at war for 10 years, but the EU didn’t matter in that equation. It’s painful, but we have to say these things. Northern Africa, with all its crises, not to mention the crises that are farther from us,” said President Iohannis.
The head of state called for better coordination between EU states.
“If we do not coordinate better and if we are not more determined in complicated situations then we will still have a strong economy but a rather fragile Union when it comes to its voice, which for me, as president, is completely unsatisfactory. As I want Romania to count globally, to have a strong voice, a solid economy, to be a provider of security in the region, I also want the EU to have a powerful voice globally, to become a powerful and respected actor, to be able to solve conflicts and send the values that lay at the grounds of our Union,” concluded the head of state.
The European Union of the future is, in Romania’s vision, a project that is inseparable from the idea of unity and solidarity
President Klaus Iohannis also said on Tuesday that the European Union of the future is, in Romania’s vision, a project that is inseparable from the idea of unity and solidarity, and for a “more integrated” union there is need for consolidating the Eurozone and the Schengen area.
“We are all under the impact of a crisis that has forced us to reconsider our priorities, to adjust to challenges other than we were used to. This new reality is certainly leaving its mark on the whole debate over the future of Europe. However, the process must remain true to the founding idea of Europe, and the engagement of citizens in dialogue must lead, based on their proposals, to the identification of measures and instruments by which European Union leaders can act to the benefit of our citizens. In Romania’s vision, a European Union of the future is indissolubly linked to the idea of European unity and solidarity to the benefit of all, a design in which we must concern ourselves with the well-being of all member states and European citizens alike,” said Iohannis.
According to him, in the absence of joint action, coordination and a real joint commitment to work out solutions, the experience of the crisis generated by COVID-19 would have been totally different.
The chief of state pointed out the need for a consolidation of the European design, not a reinvention of it, indicating that there are essential elements of the European course of action, such as the fundamental principles on which the EU is founded and which are enshrined in the treaties.
In his opinion, the strategic resilience of the European Union must be an internal process of transformation and construction.
Iohannis added that the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare sector was unprecedented, and the difficulties directly faced by Romanian health professionals were combined with the problems of a system that had not had adequate investment in several decades.
“There have been similar situations in other member states, which clearly indicates both the need to make massive investment and to reform in the benefit of public health. We need to build a real Health Union to make sure that our healthcare systems are prepared to respond to risks,” Iohannis explained.
He added that for a “more integrated” European Union, the consolidation of the Eurozone is also needed, and also of the Schengen area, which will be achieved through the accession of the member states that have undertaken their training and are acting to become members.
The President mentioned that a citizen-centered approach is needed when designing policies and actions, in which case he indicated that he strongly supports investment in education.
“Accelerating the dual digital and green transitions requires coordinated efforts to build social resilience. Only education can help reduce the risk of self-exclusion of our citizens from a union of the future,” said Iohannis.
He added that, externally, the European Union should intensify its commitment to its neighbours by supporting reforms and greater investment.
“We need to establish more strategic bonds with our partners, which will confirm that the union’s offer and commitment are strong,” Iohannis added.
He also said that respecting the values of the European space is the only thing that can protect against slippage, including those “inspired by populist or Eurosceptic approaches.”
“At the same time, we must be aware that we can do more; that we can do better in the European design. A stronger, more convergent and more solid European Union is the democratic, economic and social setting in which Romania and the Romanian citizens feel fully integrated with a Europe better prepared to face the transformations and challenges of the future,” concluded Iohannis.