The European Union and Romania
Exercising the Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Romania is undergoing intense preparations in view of the upcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union, with the semestrial mandate starting with January 1, 2019. The Romanian Presidency will cover a period of utmost importance for defining the Union’s future, which will include the expected completion of the Brexit process and charged by a symbolic load, with the European citizens sharing a sense of unity, solidarity, and common future. Holding this mandate, a first for our country, will represent both an unprecedented challenge, and a significant opportunity. Romania will be at the core of the European decision-making process, holding an important role in facilitating the process of reflection on ways to develop and consolidate the European project, the process of negotiation to develop the community acquis and, implicitly, to consolidate cooperation between the Union’s Member States. Assuming, over a period of six months, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union is an obligation arising from the capacity of Member State, and entails an exceptional effort in consolidating a national vision on the future of the European Union and in increasing the administrative capacity, necessary for the exercise of this mandate. Throughout its mandate, the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union must act as an impartial mediator, being responsible for advancing the negotiations of the Council on Union legislation, for providing the continuity of the European agenda and for the good cooperation between the Member States and the European institutions. However, in its capacity of President of the Council of the European Union, Romania will have the possibility to imprint its national vision on the strategic debates concerning the future of the European project, to directly contribute to the process for its consolidation, and to promote on the European agenda certain files which our country deems important. Romania’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union will take place in a complex European and international context, its political agenda being closely connected to developments in files of particular importance at Union level. Currently, the most visible of them, besides the ordinary legislative files, include the Brexit process and the multiannual financial framework. In order to ensure the sustained continuity of the Council’s activity, Member States holding the Presidency work together, in groups of three, called Trios. Romania will open the Presidency Trio which also includes Finland and Croatia. The coordination of procedures and processes over a 18-month period is important for the success of implementing the strategic objectives of the Council of the European Union, and, implicitly, of negotiations concerning legislative initiatives in an inter-institutional format. In this context, it is essential to ensure coordination, considering the effort to develop the Common Work Program for the Trio of Presidencies, with its priorities set by the European Council, with the political objectives set by the European Parliament and with the Work Program of the European Commission. Romania has set out on its journey to the European Union on February 1, 1993, when the Romania-EU Association Agreement was signed, the document coming into force two years later. Romania was submitting its official application for accession to the Union in June 1995. In December 1999, the European Council opened negotiations for accession with Romania, alongside six other states. Officially, negotiations began on February 15, 2000. Accession negotiations were technically concluded within the framework of the ministerial level Accession Conference of December 14, 2004, decision confirmed by the European Council of Brussels on 16-17 December of the same year. At the same time, the Council reasserted the accession calendar: April 2005 – signing the Treaty of Accession, January 1, 2007 – actual accession. Between 1998 and 2006, the European Commission has presented annual reports assessing Romania’s progress: evaluations on the state of preparations for accession, and, respectively, after signing the Treaty of Accession, comprehensive monitoring reports, describing the state of compliance of the commitments assumed by Romania in the accession negotiations. On April 25, 2005, Romania and Bulgaria, together with the representatives of the Union Member States signed, in Luxembourg, the Treaty of Accession to the European Union. Thus, on January 1, 2007, Romania became a full member of the European Union. Romania is represented within the institutions and bodies of the European Union – The Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Court of Auditors – by designated/elected members, ever since its accession.