The European Union needs to be further consolidated because the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will not be the EU’s last challenge, Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said on Thursday.
“This pandemic will not be the EU’s last challenge. For this very reason we need to further consolidate our Union and the Conference on the Future of Europe, launched on the May 9, represents a very good opportunity to involve the citizens in sharing their views, their perceptions, expectations and, why not, their solutions, on the future of the EU,” said the head of the Romanian diplomacy, at a press conference in Bucharest that marked the beginning of the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council.
“You can count on Romania’s support to advance the EU agenda in a consensual and constructive approach, driven by the objective of further consolidating the European project,” Aurescu told Slovenia’s ambassador to Romania Lea Stancic.
He underscored the need to increase the EU’s strategic resilience, both internally and externally.
“Building on the lessons learned in the past year and a half, we need to increase our strategic resilience, both internally and externally. We need to have the capacity to activate instruments that are able to respond successfully to similar situations, while fully preserving the achievements of the European project, the rule of law and our democratic way of life. We need to consolidate our partnerships with like-minded actors, who share our values, and reduce our dependence on the ones who do not, those who challenge the rules-based international order,” said Aurescu.
According to him, the EU’s commitment to enlargement must be reconfirmed, and the process needs to be credible. “We need to reconfirm our commitment for the EU enlargement and to ensure that this process is a credible one. In this respect, we support having an agreement as soon as possible on the Negotiating Frameworks with Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia, so that we could hold the first Accession Conferences with these candidates,” the foreign minister said.
For her part, Slovenia’s ambassador to Romania Lea Stancic said resilience and the rule of law were among the priorities of her country’s presidency of the EU Council.
One of our main goals will be to work with all member states for a more resilient Europe that is better prepared for the challenges of the future, she said, adding that hopefully receptivity to crises will increase, especially those that go beyond member states’ capabilities. The target, she said, is better preparedness, especially in the case of pandemics, where the lessons of COVID-19 will be used.
Head of the European Commission’s Representation in Romania Ramona Chiriac said that she relies on the support of the Slovenian presidency for the approval as soon as possible of as many National Recovery and Resilience Plans as possible.
“We welcome the European Commission’s approval of the recovery and resilience plans of the first 12 member states. That is an important step and creates a basis for investment and reform in each national plan. We are counting on support from the Slovenian presidency for the approval of as many national recovery and resilience plans as possible and we look forward to the approval of the Romanian plan,” Chiriac said.
She also called for Romania’s accession to the Schengen area.
“The European Commission has supported Romania’s accession to Schengen since the EU Council adopted the conclusions of Romania’s evaluation in 2011. Once again, we are calling on the EU Council and its Slovenian colleagues to approve lifting internal border controls in this member state,” said Chiriac, according to Agerpres.