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11 Ianuarie 2019
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Romanian Prime Minister, Viorica Dăncilă, and European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, held a joint press conference in Bucharest.

Romanian PM and EC President - Joint press conference in Bucharest


Joint Press Conference Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă and EC President Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo:

Romanian Prime Minister, Viorica Dăncilă, and European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, held a joint press conference in Bucharest, on the occasion of the official launch of Romania’s six-month Presidency of the European Union Council (January – July 2019).

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă

"I welcome the presence in Bucharest of Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and the presence of the College of Commissioners at a special and awaited moment for our country - launch of the Romanian Presidency at the Council of the European Union.

Recent visit of Romanian Government to Brussels in December 2018 was a good opportunity to strengthen our cooperation. It is time for the College of Commissioners to visit us in Bucharest and to deepen the discussions on the concrete priorities and objectives that we have set for this semester of the Presidency. At the same time, today's visit is also a symbolic moment for Romania that paves the way for our cooperation in a new perspective, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. In this capacity, we will continue to work together to achieve the common objective of strengthening the European project.

At today's meeting with EC President Juncker, I reiterated confidence in close cooperation and constructive dialogue in continuing the good cooperation we have had with the European Commission over the past few months. I also expressed hope that our joint efforts and mutual support will make it easier for us to achieve the desired results at the end of our EU Council Presidency and, of course, at the end of the mandate of the current European Commission.

The constant approach and initiatives of the European Commission to achieve a stronger and more efficient union in reaching tangible results for all European citizens fully correspond to the vision and objectives we want to promote during our EU Council Presidency.

We have assured President Juncker that we will maintain this approach. We are fully aware of the stakes, especially in this changing European landscape, and we are firmly committed to contributing as a facilitator of consensus through concrete actions to promote a more united and cohesive Europe. Such an approach is needed, especially because we manage a European agenda with a very high degree of complexity of the themes of the moment. Debates on the future of Europe, future elections for the European Parliament, negotiation of the EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and Brexit are just a few major elements and events that define the framework for our Presidency of the Council of the EU.

I assure President Juncker that we are committed to contribute in order to achieve positive results in strengthening EU unity to meet the current challenges the EU is facing. At the same time, we are realists and pragmatics. We will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in a final European legislature, it will be the last Presidency before the European Parliament elections in May, the last Presidency before the end of the mandate of the current European Commission, and we will focus on ensuring the continuity of the European agenda and providing the basis for transition to the future European Parliament and the future European Commission.

Discussions that have been held today between the Romanian Government and the College of Commissioners were structured on three thematic sections of parallel discussions that provided the opportunity to deepen the priority dossiers on the European agenda.

First thematic session - Internal Market, Growth, Competitiveness, Innovation and Digital - focused on a number of dossiers and policies that were discussed in line with the objective of strengthening the EU internal market. This objective is one of the most important milestones of our common action. Issues related to the long-term vision of the Single Market and Industrial Policy to advance negotiations on the Erasmus Learning Program or the Mobility Package, as well as legislative initiatives aimed at finalizing the digital single market were also discussed. 

Second thematic group covered aspects of economic and social convergence, cohesion and inclusion, focusing on the sectoral dossiers aimed at strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union, implementation of the European Pillar on Social Rights and Promotion mobility, free movement within the internal market of the European Union. Special attention was paid to discussions on the future Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, one of the priority files for the Presidency of Romania at the Council of the European Union, given the importance of this dossier for the future of the Union and European policies such as Common Agricultural Policy or Cohesion Policy.

Third thematic session focused on the Europe dimension - global actor, defense, security, migration and justice. It underlined that the advancement of the enlargement policy, the active involvement of the Union in the Western Balkans region and the continued focus on the Eastern Partnership will constitute priorities for the Presidency of Romania during its mandate. It has also been reiterated the need to continue efforts to identify consensus-based issues on the challenges of migration, including by developing a modernized asylum policy at EU level. As far as security within the European Union is concerned, we will continue to work consistently on strengthening external borders and implementing the EU's internal security instruments. We underlined that Romania fulfills all the technical criteria for joining the Schengen area and that we want a political agreement to be reached within the six months of the rotating EU Presidency.

We will also have a plenary lunch between the members of the Romanian Government and the members of the College of Commissioners, which will provide an opportunity to review the main conclusions and ideas that emerged from the dialogue today. We will also seek to identify the best ways to advance and achieve results across all of these action levels. In my personal name and the entire Government of Romania, I would once again like to thank President Juncker and the entire College of Commissioners for the opening, constructive dialogue and cooperation, very good cooperation we have had so far and which, I hope we will have the opportunity to develop it further over the next six months".

President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker

"Dear Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, (…) first of all I will say that we, the EU Commissioners, are treated like princes here in Bucharest. Everything is perfectly organized, which is auspicious for the continuation of events. I have just had a bilateral discussion with the Prime Minister. It is the fourth bilateral meeting that I have with the Prime Minister in recent months, which shows that I am very interested in what is happening in Romania and, of course, what is happening at European level. When Prime Minister presented the priorities of the Romanian EU Presidency, you saw that it was a work program that perfectly corresponds to the intentions of the European Commission. So from this point of view, technically there is absolutely no difficulty in the relationship between Romania and the Commission. I would like to insist on several points. First of all, if I could express my wish, it would be that during the mandate of this Commission, Romania would enter the Schengen area. I see no reason why some governments have stubbornly refused this. We keep in touch with the most recalcitrant and we try to convince them to say YES for Romania's accession to the Schengen area.

In a speech in front of the European Parliament, in 2014, I pledged to end the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism and I remain faithful to this promise, provided that all efforts are made at the level of Romania and at European level so that things can be carried out in good conditions. And I would like to end my mandate by making Romania a member of the Schengen area and putting an end to the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. It is a busy work program related to the proposals made in recent years, the co-legislators still have 248 legislative proposals unfinished and under the Romanian EU Presidency, together with the European Parliament, I would like to try before the recession period starts, before the European Parliament elections, so before 18 April, I would like most of these ... or the essential part of these legislative proposals to be adopted in co-decision by Parliament and the Council. Prime Minister has repeatedly stated that she intends to speed up work at the legislative level. There is very little time, because the European Parliament will finish its work on 18 April, and there will be little work to be done on the legislative level between 18 April and the end of the Romanian EU Presidency. So we will have to make the most of the few weeks remaining until the European elections to move forward. Similarly, linked to the EU Multiannual Financial Framework following an Austrian EU Presidency that has done remarkable work on the technical level, the Government of Romania should lead the work so that progress can be made as quickly as possible on this dossier. I know from experience that this is one of the most difficult cases a Presidency can handle. Because I went through this process, I know how tough this task is. I would also like that during the Romanian EU Presidency, we should adopt some directives on migration and asylum at Council and Parliament level.

We proposed seven directives; five are on the finish line and I hope to adopt them, leaving aside the two more difficult. But if we want to combat secondary movements, Parliament and the Council must adopt these directives.

It is also valid for defending external borders. The Commission made a proposal, saying that the number of border guards and coast guards should reach 10,000. We are now explained that we cannot do that, but at first we were told that the Commission is too modest in its proposal, too timid. I hope that the Romanian EU Presidency will accelerate the work and not let ourselves out of the way by those who have a lot of good ideas, but when it comes to putting it into practice they are withdrawing from the necessary debates.

I am the third time in Romania since the beginning of my term, and I would like a stop of the domestic problems and disputes in Romania. When you preside over the European Union, you have to forget to put internal policy issues in the parenthesis. And the Prime Minister has confirmed that the Romanian EU Presidency will not be overshadowed by other issues. I have confidence in Mrs. Prime Minister's ability to manage the work of the EU Council. I know she is very fond of European ideals".

Questions from the Press:

Luiza Gireadă (TVR 1) / Question for Mr. Juncker: How worrying are the anti-European messages that have recently appeared in Romanian space and what can the European Commission and the other European institutions do to combat them and what should the Romanian authorities do so that these messages do not lead to a wave of euro-skepticism?Same question for the Premier: What should be done to avoid having anti-European messages and not having the consequences of these messages? Thank you.

EC President Jean-Claude Juncker: The Romanian Government knows it and the Romanian people will soon find out that we need to work together with the Romanian EU Presidency as an ideal couple and I am convinced that the Prime Minister will contribute to this to a great extent. I am never surprised when the Commission is being attacked, that's the rule. The Commission, in a way, has to deal with all the problems that arise and I would like to see in Romania that we do not think we have two Europe, the so-called Western Europe and Eastern Europe, meaning Member States that have joined before and since 2004.  I would like the Romanian EU Presidency to be the one in which we can definitively prove that the European Union does not have a differentiated treatment for its Member States. The Commission, the European Parliament, their members speak with nuances about what is being done in the Member States and may sometimes be seen as a sign of diffusion, but the Commission, in fact, without exception, regards all the EU Member States as equal.

Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă: I believe that the anti-European messages do not find a response among the population if the European institutions, if Brussels gives adequate answers to the challenges we face. That is why we want the Commission, together with the EU Council, to give answers as close as possible to the citizens, so that we can show that the only way is the pro-European way. (…) I think it is very important how we respond to the existing challenges, how citizens will find comfort in the policies that will be adopted and this is the way any anti-European message will remain unanswered. This is what we propose, therefore, in the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. We have chosen the motto Cohesion as a common European value, in order to have the same answer, the same treatment for all EU Member States and for all European citizens.  And I think that in order not to increase extremism, in order not to give rise to anti-European responses, we must mobilize and provide adequate answers, answers that Romanian citizens, European citizens, expect. I think this is the road we have to take.

Maria Toader, Antena 3/Question for President Juncker. Mr President, you declared at the end of December, for a German daily, "I think the Bucharest Executive did not fully understand what it means to preside over the countries of the European Union". Do you think that you might have rushed, given the discussions that took place in Bucharest with the Romanian partners? Do you keep this statement and can you clarify it on this occasion? And if we have come to the subject of clarification, you said earlier that your wish is that Romania, in the mandate of the current Commission, is to be received in Schengen and that you are in touch with the Prime Ministers and the states that, at this moment, are a little more stubborn. Concretely, how will you convince the Netherlands and the Dutch Prime Minister to accept Romania in the Schengen area?

EC President, Jean-Claude Juncker: Usually I do not make statements on other statements I have made another time. I have spoken openly with the German publication and you yourself answered, in fact, you question, emphasizing the efforts to have a national consensus in this country on the eve of the official launch of the EU Presidency, which happened on January 1st, and following discussions with the Prime Minister and the Head of State, I am actually relieved now. I trust that internal issues will not be reflected at European level, because that would be harmful. But after the talks I had including with the Senate President and the Vice-President of the Chamber of Deputies, I trust that this message was well understood. The second question on Schengen, I would ask you to follow what I said during the press conference with the President. I have repeated what I keep saying since 2014, that Romania must be in the Schengen area and I will do everything to do this during the mandate of this Commission. And with the Netherlands, yes, I always have a dialogue with the Netherlands and the other countries, saying that Romania has met all the technical criteria for joining the Schengen area. The Dutch Prime Minister knows this and knows that I expect him to make progress in the Netherlands and elsewhere on this issue.

Marco Bresolinni, “La Stampa”: I have a question about migration. In recent days, some EU Member States have received 49 migrants, after Member States have faced with the issue of who to take care of them. What should be done to avoid such situations by reforming, of course, the Dublin Regulation. And in connection with this issue, in view of the European Parliament elections, Hungarian Prime Minister, Mr Orbán, said that he would like most of the parties to enter the European Parliament to be parties that oppose migration. Do you think there will be such a majority?

EC President Jean Claude Juncker: On the first question, if Member States had adopted at the right time all the Commission's migration proposals, we would not find ourselves in the situation where we are today. Every week, every day I deal with this issue and I salute the efforts of the Romanian Government, the Romanian Prime Minister who accepted a few migrants and refugees on the territory of the country. It is a decision that honors Romania. In connection with the statement you say that Mr. Orbán has done, I think I would first verify it before I would ask the question.

Bruno Waterfield, “The Times”: A question for Mrs.Prime Minister. The legislative window for the EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is quite narrow, given the context of these negotiations, because a major net contributor is lost. How will this issue also be addressed? And cohesion is a central area, a central issue of your EU Presidency, how do you promote cohesion in the MFF context? I mean in the context in which net contributors such as The Netherlands simply refuse to contribute more to cover the hole left behind by Brexit?

Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă: I know that there are divergent views on the Multiannual Financial Framework and in my speech I even pointed out that the way we manage an agreement on the Multiannual Financial Framework will be reflected in the Cohesion Policy, the Common Agricultural Policy, traditional policies at European Union level. As we know, at the last European Council it was decided to have a political agreement on the MFF in October this year. We do not have to wait for October. We need to take into account small steps that we should take but solid steps in order to obtain this political agreement. And for us, as a rotating EU Presidency, it is not only important that we have this political agreement, but what will be in the MFF, because we can get political agreement in a shorter time but not reflect what we all want: a strong Cohesion Policy, a strong Common Agricultural Policy and the other policies, I refer to defense policy, migration policy that you have just mentioned, I mean the single market, terrorism and other policies of interest at European level. So for us, it is important what the MFF will contain, rather the timeframe when we can get a political agreement. But, of course, during the six months we will have discussions with all the Member States, we will be impartial mediators and we will try to reach consensus on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework.

Source:RRA.Translated by Miruna Matei


Etichete ConferintăViorica DăncilăJean-Claude JunckerPreşedintele Comisiei EuropenePreședinția României La Consiliul UEJean-Claude Junkerpreşedintele Klaus Iohannispreşedinţia română a Consiliului Uniunii Europene

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