03/08/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/08/2019 12:06
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I will present today a review of the first two months of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council.
The European community means a better life for hundreds of millions of citizens, social security and cohesion, guaranteed rights and freedoms. They are the principles guiding our actions and which further inspire us in exercising this mandate.
The Romanian Government, the Ministers and the Permanent Representation have acted with professionalism and responsibility and, in just two months, we obtained results that other presidencies did not get throughout their entire mandate.
This demonstrates how unsubstantiated the attacks and gloomy forecasts launched before the takeover of this tenure, were, and those who did it acted for purely electoral reasons, without worrying that they put Romania in an unfavorable light externally.
Despite these attacks, we have proved an efficient tenure and of quality, highly praised by all European partners. The Romanians can be proud of all the high-level meetings that we have had during this period; Romania has been congratulated on its exceptional way to handle the difficult dossiers on the table.
The Ministers chaired numerous meetings in which they proved that the Romanian Government has the necessary capacity and experience to contribute to the identification of the best solutions for the major topics on the European agenda: definition of the post -2020 EU budget, functioning of the Single European Market, and the competitiveness of the industry, boosting digitalization, protection of social rights, internal security, combating terrorism, managing challenges determined by migration, post-Brexit future of the European Union.
Through close cooperation and open and constructive dialogue with the representatives of the European Commission, European Parliament and the Secretariat General of the Council as well as with all member states, we reached consensus including on dossiers which stalled for a very long time.
Since taking over the mandate, we managed more than 650 events and meetings both home and in Brussels, attended by more than 2,600 delegates.
The interinstitutional collaboration is very important for the exercise of the rotating presidency. This is why we had consultations linked to our tenure's priorities, with all European partners: College of Commissioners, European Parliament, European Social and Economic Committee(EESC), Committee of the Regions(CoR), and with all European leaders.
We are acting together to best meet the legitimate expectations of citizens, through engagement of all institutions, civil society, and local and regional authorities in drawing up the EU's policies.
To an equal extent, we dedicated ourselves to promoting European values by combating intolerance, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and racism.
One of the first events that we organized as country holding the rotating presidency was the Conference on the fight against anti-Semitism, exactly in order to convey a firm message regarding the fight against discrimination of any kind.
I imposed from the very first days of my tenure an alert pace of work, being aware of the fact that we have to manage an important number of dossiers in a shorter period of time, compared to other presidencies.
Considering that elections for the European Parliament are to take place in our mandate, we intensified talks with the European Parliament to close as many dossiers as possible.
Negotiations on 67 dossiers with major impact at EU level were completed, which means that the Romanian Government reached in just two months, consensus on a higher number of European topics than other Governments holding the rotating presidency, reached in six months.
We have achievements on all four pillars of the mandate priorities: Europe of convergence, safer Europe, Europe as global actor, and Europe of common values.
Therefore, we have a presidency which achieved results for citizens in all fields.
Within the Europe of Convergence pillar, we obtained results in fields linked to economic growth and jobs.
As regards the promotion of digitalization, innovation and connectivity, we reached provisional agreements with the European Parliament on dossiers such as: copyright, relation between online platforms and traders, Digital Europe Programme or re-use on a larger scale of data financed from public funds.
Upgrading the legal framework on copyright represented a major success of our presidency, considering that talks on this topic stalled for more than three years.
The digital world opportunities will be unlocked through the new regulations, both for creators whose rights should be fully observed, and for the European citizens, beneficiaries of the advantages posed by the digital single market.
With respect to the Digital Europe Programme, we obtained through a single trilogue, a partially provisional political agreement with the European Parliament. We hold the belief that this programme will bring substantial benefits to all of our citizens and companies, by stimulating investment in vital areas for competitiveness and innovation, such as: artificial intelligence, high - performance computers and IT security.
For a less polluting environment, we advanced on European agenda the dossier on the promotion of clean vehicles. We obtained with the European Parliament the market stimulation and encouraged public authorities to use vehicles with low Co2 emissions. Furthermore, the Romanian Presidency and the European Parliament reached a political agreement on quicker introduction of the aerodynamic cabins on transportation market. These cabins will save fuel, improve visibility, safety and the comfort of drivers and will increase safety for the other traffic participants.
We took concrete steps socially regarding the protection of the workers' rights. We completed key dossiers in the social field and I would like to mention some of them:
The Directive which will ensure greater predictibility and clarity in terms of work conditions. There are norms that millions of European workers will benefit from.
The Directive on the work -life balance for parents and carers with a major contribution in gender equality promotion, or the norms on reducing carcinogen exposure at the workplace.
These are regulations that respond to current EU challenges.
The Romanian presidency has also taken an important step towards a better functioning of labor market at European level. We reached consensus with the European Parliament on regulations to institute the European Labor Authority (ELA). This will support the implementation of the Union's legislation and will provide information to employees and employers on labor mobility.
An exceptional result in the field of energy is the political agreement with the European Parliament on the proposal for the revision of the Natural Gas Directive.
It is an even more important result of the Romanian Government as it has benefited from wide support from the Member States after a long period of intense and extremely difficult negotiations, given the complexity and impact of this proposal from a geo-strategic perspective , as well as for strengthening the EU's energy security.
This step will contribute to ensuring a uniform and transparent regulatory framework at European level for gas interconnections with third countries in the context of the European Union's strategic objective of enhancing energy security.
Moreover, the Romanian Presidency has completed the dossier on new rules to make sure that products introduced into the single market are safe and in compliance with the legislation on health, consumer protection, environmental protection and public safety.
The health of European finances is essential for economic growth.
Ministers are working intensively alongside the Permanent Representation to define the future multiannual budget of the Union - one of the most important dossiers we handle as a Presidency-in-Office. The finalization of the Multiannual Financial Framework is more than an agreement on the amounts that each Member State receives from the European budget.
The European Council mandated the Council of the European Union to continue negotiations. The Romanian Presidency has the role to develop guidelines for their next phase, with a view to obtaining a political agreement this autumn.
Based on this mandate, we are pursuing a simplified and balanced negotiation paper to facilitate decisions at European leaders' level. At the same time, we have achieved progress on the sectoral proposals related to the Multiannual Financial Framework.
Specifically, we have been able to reach agreements with the European Parliament on priority sectoral proposals such as: the European Defence Fund, the Fiscalis Programme, the InvestEU Programme, the Digital Europe Programme 2021-2027.
At the same time, new rules aimed at reducing risks in the EU banking sector have been established. These measures will ensure that the banking sector has sufficient capital to safely provide loans to individuals and legal entities, while taxpayers are protected against any difficulties that banks might face.
Safer Europe Pillar. Citizens' safety is also at the heart of the actions that we have undertaken and which we will continue to carry out in the rotating presidency's mandate.
From this point of view, strengthening the protection of the external borders of the Union is a priority objective.
In the course of the discussions we have had over these two months, we have succeeded in advancing the negotiations on extending the mandate of the European Border and Coastguard Agency and we obtained agreement at EU Council level on the full text of the regulation aimed at strengthening the mandate of this agency.
In the area of migration, the Romanian Presidency contributed to the advancement of talks on all the components aiming at a complex approach of this phenomenon.
An important breakthrough is the political agreement with the European Parliament on the revision of the legal framework for the functioning of the European Migration Liaison Officers' Network.
We seek to increase the role of these officers in combating smuggling of migrants and to increase the coordination of Member States with third countries. The benefit of the new regulations is that they will allow for more effective control of the Union's external borders.
In the area of internal security, we completed negotiations on the interoperability of IT systems at EU level. By facilitating the exchange of information, we will improve the security and quality of external border controls in order to prevent and combat illegal migration.
We also completed negotiations on dossiers concerning free movement within the EU, reducing the risk of terrorism and cross-border crime, and review of the legal framework in terms of visa issuance to facilitate business travels and tourism.
Another impact dossier on citizens' safety managed and successfully completed by the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council is the Regulation on explosives precursors. There are stricter rules for the use of explosives, an important preventive measure in the context of efforts to combat terrorist threats.
With respect to strengthening the role of Europe as global actor, the meetings of the Foreign and Defence Ministers hosted in Bucharest ocassioned constructive debates regarding a series of topics of strategic interest of the common agenda.
I will point out the advancement of the European path of Western Balkans, the prospects of Eastern partnership, namely the consolidation and coherence of the new initiatives in the field of European defence.
The core objective around which the Romanian Government defined its priorities is boosting the citizens' confidence in the European project, by maintaining the unity, cohesion, and solidarity as fundamental elements.
In this context, holding the elections for the European Parliament during our tenure is the focal point of attention. We are firmly committed to contributing to ensuring a safe environment for unfolding elections freely and fairly.
A progress of the Romanian Presidency of the Council is the political agreement to amend the legislation on the functioning and financing of European political parties and foundations in order to prevent and sanction the violation of personal data protection provisions in electoral context.
Also, General Affairs Council's conclusions on a number of non-legislative measures were adopted to ensure the integrity and resilience of the European electoral process.
We seek to ensure a coordinated response to the threats to this crucial electoral process for the future of the Union, which can take on various forms, including hybrid threats, cyber threats and disinformation. We want to make sure that the Europe of values is promoted for the direct benefit of the European citizen.
I have emphasized both in Brussels and in Bucharest that the European Union can progress in the spirit of the founding ideas of the European project, only by maintaining cohesion and bridging gaps between Member States in all their forms of expression.
It is however, the key to our presidency motto: 'Cohesion, a common European value'.
From this perspective, Ministers continue to be engaged in backing traditional European policies: Cohesion Policy and Common Agricultural Policy, both of which have a major impact on reducing development gaps and ensuring economic and social convergence.
We have already succeeded, together with the European Parliament and the European Commission, to finalize negotiations on the proposal for a regulation on direct payments and support for rural development for the years 2019-2020. I have been pursuing a legislative framework in support of Member States in order to prepare the timely implementation of the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and to ensure a smooth transition over the next programming period.
Moreover, the agreement on the set of rules on unfair commercial practices will ensure the protection of all EU farmers and agri-food businesses.
We have also paid attention to the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy, continuing the steps towards finalizing the multi-annual management plans and obtaining political agreement on several dossiers, alongside the co-decision-makers.
We have also achieved concrete results in the area of food safety within the Internal Market. From this perspective, the political agreement with the European Parliament on the proposal for a regulation on the General Food Law will increase citizens' confidence in the Union's food safety regulatory framework.
Practically, citizens will have easier access to information on food safety and human health.
What we have succeeded to achieve in the first two -month of tenure through active involvement, open dialogue with all European partners proves the Romanian Government's strong attachment to the European project.
Through the results obtained so far and the determination to continuing in the same pace, we proved that Romania firmly believes in a strong and unitary Europe in all its dimensions: political, economic and social.
The Ministers alongside the teams of experts that they are coordinating, and alongside the Permanent Representation of Romania confirmed that the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council also has the ability and expertise to produce the results awaited by citizens, and this was noticed by all our European partners.
This is a stage evaluation and I am fully confident that we will continue in the same consistent pace and by the end of the six-month mandate, we will come up before all with a presidency marked by efficiency and quality, which met the awaited results for a better life for all European citizens.
We are ready to negotiate the next dossiers and to chair events whose conclusions will contribute to improving European policies.
The Romanian Government is on schedule with the preparation and organization of the Sibiu Summit of May 9, 2019, devoted to the future of the European Union and the future strategic agenda of leaders for 2019 - 2024.
At the same time, we will continue the debates on some important topics for the future of Europe, such as:
combating discrimination, intolerance, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and racism;
migration policy and asylum
reducing gaps between development regions
strengthening the single market
social security and borders security
I am confident that the Government of Romania will continue to achieve the expected results given also that we are now in full team after the appointment of the new Regional Development and Transport Ministers.
In conclusion, as today is the International Women's Day, I wish all women a happy anniversary and may they achieve all their goals!
Ladies across Europe, I want you to know that you have in the Prime Minister of Romania a firm supporter of gender equality promotion, in all areas of society: economic, political and social ones.
On Wednesday, I attended the Women's European Council in Brussels, and yesterday, I delivered opening remarks at a debate devoted to gender equality promotion held by the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council.
I conveyed a message in which I fully believe: new measures are needed at national and European level to reduce pay gaps between women and men, to promote women in business and leadership positions.
As first female Prime Minister of Romania, I fully trust that women have the necessary strength and qualities to further change society for the better by finding the best solutions for the future of Europe.