On 20 June 2018, during the joint sitting of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, Romania’s Prime Minister, Viorica Dăncilă, presented the stage of the preparation process and the themes of interest of the Romanian Presidency to the Council of the European Union, a mandate that our country exercises during the 1 January and 30 June 2019. During the exercise of the Presidency, Romania will represent the EU Council in the dialogue with the other European institutions, in particular the European Commission and the European Parliament, also working in close coordination with the President of the European Council in the decision-making process. The rotating Presidency ensures the day-to-day management of the European agenda and the presidency of the Council sectoral formations at all levels (ministerial, ambassadorial and technical), except for the Foreign Affairs Council. The presidency should act as an impartial mediator, focusing mainly on the presentation of compromise proposals capable of leading to the adoption of common positions of the Member States.
Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă’s speech at the joint sitting of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate – presentation of the stage of the preparation process and of the themes of interest that will form the basis of the Work Program of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council
Mr. President of the Senate,
Mr. President of the Chamber of Deputies,
Ladies and gentlemen, deputies and senators,
On January 1st, 2019, Romania will take over for the first time the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This mandate will take place in a complex European and international context and must take into account the current processes that will shape the European Union, such as the reflection on the future of the European Union, the exit of the Great Britain from the EU, the transition to a new legislative cycle following the European elections and, implicitly, the end of the mandate of the European Commission and the European Parliament, namely the negotiations on the strategic reference documents of the Union such as the new post-2019 strategic framework for action, the Economic and Monetary Union and the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework.
At the same time, challenges appear to be increasingly significant, given the relatively high degree of global instability. They oblige the Union to take on a more prominent role internationally, in line with the Global Strategy, the implementation of which will continue. By taking over the Presidency to the EU Council, Romania has the opportunity to get involved, in support of the High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Policy and in collaboration with the European External Action Service, in the external representation of the Union and in the activities underlying the EU’s Global Strategy.
There are, however, other dynamics for which we need to be prepared. In order to strengthen the European project, it is now more than necessary to strengthen the link between citizens and the Union by involving them more actively in the decision-making processes.
The exercise of the Presidency of the EU Council is, by definition, an extremely technical exercise. However, such a mandate needs the support of the Parliament and the commitment of all Romanian representatives in the various European formats. Therefore, in the process of elaborating the themes of interest from the perspective of the Romanian Presidency to the EU Council, the Government of Romania requested points of view to all public institutions, the Romanian Parliament, the Presidential Administration, our representatives in the European Parliament, the European Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee. We must work together for a successful mandate.
In this context, the Presidency of Romania to the EU Council aims at showing vision and spirit of innovation, while remaining within the limits of the tradition of holding a Presidency of the EU Council.
Romania will have the opportunity to take over the Presidency of the EU Council in a period defined by the joint effort of the Member States of the Union to identify solutions to the major challenges to the European project and to define its evolution for the next decade in the desire to ensure the public goods they have provided from the very beginning: peace, freedom, stability, prosperity, social solidarity or cohesion.
As part of this collective effort, Romania will be able to demonstrate firmness in supporting the consolidation of the European project, based on full respect for the commitment to continue the provision of these public goods. This principle will, moreover, be the anchor to all the actions that Romania will carry out during the 6 months mandate.
Nicolae Titulescu, a great visionary of European unity, said almost a century ago: “Romania’s policy is dominated by a perfect convergence between Romanian and European interests. All our present and future actions in the field of foreign policy have arisen and will spring from this fundamental premise. “
Thus, the exercise by Romania of the forthcoming EU Council Presidency will be an opportunity to prove the political will and administrative capacity needed to contribute to strengthening Member State’s unity and cohesion based on a viable and inclusive cooperation model, on solidarity between Member States and between the different segments of the social body, leading to a stronger Union capable of effective actions inside and outside of it in favour and for the benefit of European citizens.
In addition to the approximately 1,400 meetings to be held outside the country, we plan to organize another 300 events and meetings of the working groups in Romania. The Romanian Government will organize the Summit in Sibiu, the informal ministerial meetings at the Palace of Parliament, as well as actions across the country, so that Romania’s citizens can feel that this Presidency is theirs, for 6 months duration of the mandate. In this regard, I would like to thank the local public authorities for their support in hosting these meetings in the country and I am convinced that all of you, in your own jurisdictions, will positively respond to our efforts to lead the Presidency in all areas of the country.
By holding the EU Council Presidency Romania will be able to demonstrate that it can generate solutions and actually support the advancement of the European project, which remains the most appropriate framework for Member States’ development, based on the fundamental principles of the European construction.
Romania, in its mandate as President of the EU Council, will act coordinated in a format of the Trio of Presidencies, together with Finland and Croatia.
Being the first member state of the Trio, Romania will develop its Work Program in parallel with the Council’s Work Program for 18 months, which offers the opportunity to have continuity in achieving the assumed objectives.
In the first half of 2019, there are responsibilities that Romania must assume and expectations which it must meet. The preparation of the Presidency must be done not only by defining the objectives and the actions to achieve them.
The main objective should be to strengthen Romania’s international status and reputation as a member state of the Union, capable of fulfilling its responsibilities in pursuing the common European objectives.
Romania’s reputation will be influenced not only by what the outcome of its mandate, but also by the way in which it reaches this outcome.
We have the opportunity to demonstrate political maturity, high professionalism in managing complex institutional challenges as well as negotiation and compromise skills in the European decision-making process.
The exercise by a Member State of the Presidency of the EU Council is a way of demonstrating the capacity for generating consensus at EU level on the active dossiers. The concrete expectations will be to finalize the legislative negotiations on the dossiers we will take over from the Austrian Presidency on 1 January 2019.
That is why Romania will act in Brussels from July 1, 2018, as a “shadow Presidency”, working closely with Austria in order to be able to smoothly take over the negotiation processes at community level in order to act efficiently from the very first day of our mandate.
Thus, using the expertise of the European institutions and of the previous presidencies, last year we have started the training programs of over 1,500 officials involved in this process.
Also, through discussions within informal meetings held in Romania, we will have the opportunity to present several relevant themes, also from a national perspective.
The current EU legislative program, which will be in its final phase, an exercise in which the Presidency will be involved with the European Parliament and the European Commission, will be at the centre of Romania’s Presidency to the EU Council. There will be many legislative dossiers that will require a major effort to be completed before the European elections in May 2019. In identifying compromise formulas within the EU Council and in the dialogue with the European Parliament, Romania’s Presidency will assume its responsibility to Europe of the 500 million citizens, in order to complete the Strategic Agenda defined in 2014.
In 2019, a 5-year political cycle will end, and a new one will begin. The extent to which the 2014 legislative agenda will be reflected in the decisions adopted by the spring of 2019 will be one of the elements assessed in the democratic exercise of the European Parliament elections.
The Presidency of Romania at the Council of the European Union will thus be able to contribute to defining the benchmarks for the next multiannual financial cycle post-2020. The European Commission’s proposals, presented in May-June 2018, will be in a crucial, perhaps final, phase of political negotiation between January and June 2019. This multiannual budget will need to provide the Union the necessary resources to reach the objectives for the next 7 years. The commitment of the Romanian Presidency, both at political and technical level, as well as the cooperation with the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission, can prove to be important for the outcome of the negotiations.
In addition to this commitment, the effort required by the Presidency in the negotiations of the 37 sectoral legislation dossiers which must be completed in time to allow for the preparation and launch of the use of EU funds on 1 January 2021 will be significant.
In this respect, depending on the decision of the European leaders to be adopted at the European Council meeting on 28-29 June 2018, regarding the speed of the negotiation process of the Multi-annual Financial Framework 2021-2027, the way the Romanian Presidency will report to the EU Council in these very important negotiations will be different. In both situations, however, Romania remains fully committed to making the necessary efforts during its mandate to achieve notable progress in the negotiation of the Multi-annual Financial Framework post-2020, so that financial programs can be started as soon as possible, and the financed projects have a positive effect on economic growth.
On March 29, 2019, in one of the most outstanding moments of the history of European construction from the constitutional treaties of the 1950s, Great Britain will leave the European Union. Discussions on the future of Europe after Brexit began at the European Council in Bratislava in 2016. The President of the European Council advanced these discussions, especially based on the Leaders’ Agenda. Romania will host the informal meeting of the European Council in Sibiu, where European leaders will decide on the Union’s strategic priorities and directions for the coming years. Romania will also preside over the EU Council for the first 3 months after the Great Britain’s exit from the EU.
In a year of changes for the European Parliament and the European Commission, Romania’s Presidency at the EU Council will be one of the points of stability and continuity at Union level.
By organizing ministerial meetings and senior officials in Romania, we will have the opportunity to propose and encourage debates and exchanges of ideas on political, economic and social themes that will provide the necessary context for a new phase of the European project for the next 10 years.
Designing the work agenda of the forthcoming Presidency is cantered on the view that any vision about the future must be built around the fundamental principles guiding the evolution of the European Union over time.
At the centre of the European construction there are the 500 million inhabitants of the member states and the working agenda of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union will be centred on the European citizen.
Romania’s efforts will mainly focus on legislative and non-legislative dossiers with direct and immediate impact on the everyday lives of EU citizens.
Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, said, referring to the community building, that “ We don’t form coalitions of states, we unite people.”
The objective of us all is to bring welfare and stability to the European citizen, and today, more than ever, we need to identify those European policies that bring benefits to the daily lives of those we represent.
This is the reason why the process of drafting the Work Program of the forthcoming Presidency has started at national level through a wide consultation and public debate, facilitated by the creation of a Forum dedicated to this purpose.
Beyond the obvious value of the ideas presented on this occasion, the exercise aimed at sending a public message on the necessary and anticipated engagement of Romanian citizens in the preparation of the first exercise for Romania of the presidency of the EU Council.
For these reasons, Romania will seek to achieve tangible results for its citizens through the work undertaken under the presidency of the EU Council and to highlight the benefits that a solid, strong and cohesive Union can bring to each individual citizen.
At the same time, the Presidency of Romania at the EU Council will ensure that the Union’s policies will constantly refer to the principle of cohesion between Member States and between different socio-economic categories.
We shall aim at cohesion as a common European value, and as an expression of unity between the European Union states and regions.
As stated in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, promoting economic, social and territorial convergence is essential for the harmonious, balanced and sustainable development of the Union by reducing structural disparities between the various regions and promoting equal opportunities for all citizens.
In the preface to the White Paper on the Future of the Union, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recalls the principle of unity of the Member States, noting that “as we decide which way to go, we should remember that Europe has always been at its best when we are united, bold and confident that we can shape our future together”
In addition to the proposals of the European leaders in formulating the themes of interest of the Presidency, Romania considers the citizen both as a source and as a target.
On the other hand, at content level, the main concern in the formulation of the themes is oriented to the extent to which they correspond to the principles enshrined in the Treaties and serve the interests of all European citizens.
At the same time, the priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council are linked to the European Union’s legislative agenda to ensure their implementation at European level.
The work agenda will focus on four main pillars:
(1) Ensuring a sustainable and equal development for all Member States through enhanced convergence, cohesion, innovation, digitization and connectivity;
(2) maintaining a safe Europe;
(3) strengthening the EU ‘s global role and
(4) the Europe of common values.
In preparing and exercising the Presidency, Romania maintains a constant dialogue with the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Member States and the social actors in order to ensure the necessary conditions for achieving these ambitious objectives.
Regarding the first pillar – ensuring a sustainable and equal development for all Member States – fostering convergence within the EU is an objective which must be given special attention, being essential both for increasing the quality of life of European citizens as well as their closeness to the European project. All steps taken at European and national levels should be subsumed to the common overall objective of generating real convergence across the Union.
There is broad consensus at EU level on the need to strengthen convergence between Member States and between regions, allowing both the efficiency of the functioning of the European single market and a common EU response in terms of policies and institutional tools to the goal of strengthening the EU’s competitiveness at global level. Stimulating convergence at EU level would also imply creating the optimal premises for increasing European cohesion.
The context determined by Brexit and strengthened by the prospect of negotiations on the Future Financial Framework and the proposals for further consolidation of the Economic and Monetary Union is an extremely favourable one for advancing objectives focusing on growth and convergence.
The dossiers under the Convergence Europe objective will allow Romania to promote an inclusive, integrated approach to advancing EU-level discussions and to work towards fostering consensus on several sensitive dossiers for Member States.
The continuation of measures towards the completion of the Banking Union and the development of the Capital Markets Union will be an opportunity for Romania, as the Presidency of the EU Council, to contribute to channelling attention to the deepening of the European project, including an effective and coordinated reaction of the Union to international developments.
From the same perspective of “Europe of convergence”, the social dimension should be a key component of any effort to increase the competitiveness of the EU as a whole and thus play an important role in all internal market policies.
Innovation also has a major potential to contribute to job creation, increasing the competitiveness of enterprises in global markets, improving the quality of life and generating sustainable growth. From this perspective, Romania intends to support efforts to strengthen the framework for innovation support and stimulation at European level.
At the same time, advancing steps to complete a genuine Digital Single Market is a major priority and fully justified by the need for economic, social and security developments.
This should consider the need to significantly reduce the digital gap between Member States, between different regions and categories of European citizens and between different industrial sectors.
Achieving the goal of deepening the Internal Market, a goal that has been assumed and politically agreed at EU level, will be supported by Romania, a priority of Romania’s Presidency at the EU Council aiming to ensure its full, correct and efficient functionality, from the perspective of the 4 fundamental freedoms – people, goods, services and capital.
At the same time, the effective functioning of the European Union and the achievement of economic, social and security objectives depend on maintaining the competitiveness of European industry and ensuring an adequate level of interconnection on the Internal Market, a priority justified by developments at European level, especially in the fields of energy, transport and telecommunications.
From this perspective, one of Romania’s major priorities will be to develop and create, if missing, the functional links between East and West / North and South, to allow, on the one hand, the non-discriminatory access to the resources and benefits of joining EU and, on the other hand, to support, in a sustainable manner, the increased competitiveness of the European economy.
Ensuring a good connection of the Central and South-Eastern European states to other European regions can be achieved also through greater visibility for macro-regional strategies, namely by relaunching the EU Strategy for the Danube Region. In this context, the overlapping of Romania’s mandate to the Presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2019 with the mandate of Romania in the rotating presidency of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region between October 2018 and October 2019 offers the opportunity to promote the added value of regional cooperation and the development of territorial, economic and social cohesion through the macro-regional strategies and the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.
In terms of competitiveness, the development of the Internal Market also requires strengthening the industrial policy of the European Union. European industry needs a long-term policy with a horizon at least by 2030, considering the diversity of the current industrial base in the EU and the impact of the evolution of digitization and artificial intelligence.
The second pillar – the internal security of the European Union is one of the priority items for Romania and will be at the centre of our concerns.
Ensuring the security of the external borders is one of the most important safeguards for the efficient functioning of the area of freedom, security and justice, and the implementation of the Schengen evaluation mechanism, of the EU-developed IT systems and their interoperability will be particularly important issues on our agenda.
We will try to explore new ways of addressing this issue, so the theme of managing a coherent and unitary flow of migratory flows will remain an important one.
The emergencies that Member States or the Union have managed in recent years have shown that an immediate effective response requires closer inter-agencies cooperation and a focus on rescuing victims and providing emergency care.
Alongside the proper implementation of these measures internally, the ways to strengthen cooperation with non-EU states in the field of security will need to be assessed, given that several security challenges have no borders. I am referring here to the fight against cyber-attacks, as well as the phenomenon of radicalization or preventing terrorist activity.
In a world of accelerated digitization, Romania is interested in working on the issue of protecting citizens’ safety in the virtual space. The review of the EU Cyber Security Strategy has created a good basis for improving European cooperation in the field, but further efforts are needed to strengthen the Union’s resilience to cyber-attacks.
Cyber security can no longer be considered as an option, and public policies and any project related to the information society must consider the cyber security component.
Finally, Romania will be able to contribute to advancing a vision on the future of Europe’s security by setting strategic goals for the post-2020 space for freedom, security and justice.
In this context, the EU’s overall profile will fundamentally depend on the pace of implementation of the Global Strategy and on the effectiveness of its various instruments.
For the efficiency of the EU’s external action, Romania will pursue the consolidation of on-going initiatives that, among other things, aim at developing EU defence capabilities such as the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence – CARD, European Defence Fund, Permanent Structured Co-operation – PESCO, thus promoting a closer EU-NATO partnership. Particular attention will be paid to civil-military coordination, an area of excellence for the EU, which implies further work on the improvement of EU civilian capabilities.
Romania will continue its activities in terms of strengthening resilience, combating hybrid threats and enhancing strategic communication capacity, including in an integrated manner.
Particular attention will be paid to the external component of the Multi-annual Financial Framework, to future external assistance financial instruments, and to the identification of options for adapting EU Council working methods.
The objective is to increase the efficiency of programs carried out in the context of EU external action, in conjunction with the budgetary outlooks that can be used.
For the sake of consistency of the EU’s neighbourhood policy, the Eastern Partnership will also be a priority for the Presidency, given that during this mandate we will also celebrate its 10-year anniversary.
From a thematic point of view, the Romanian Presidency will pay attention to the extension of the benefits of the Free Trade Agreements in force or to the interconnectivity with the most advanced states in the Eastern Partnership.
A particular focus will be on strengthening the concrete responses that EU could offer to the European goals of the Republic of Moldova.
In this context, the Presidency will aim at contributing to the broader awareness of the benefits of supporting the European objective by citizens and authorities, advocating the necessary conditions for maintaining the European perspective of the Republic of Moldova within credible parameters.
It is important to reaffirm and devote the importance of the Black Sea on the EU agenda, including from the perspective of advancing projects under the Third Seas Initiative or revitalizing the Black Sea Synergy in the future.
Both the political visibility plan and the EU’s concrete involvement in successful regional projects are addressed.
In order to honour the EU’s commitments, Romania will pay special attention to supporting the European perspective of the Western Balkans by giving a new impetus to enlargement policy, namely by supporting efforts to reform, democratize and reconcile society in the Western Balkans. This represents an investment in regional stability and prosperity, constituting a broader strategic interest for the Union, but also for Romania given its immediate proximity to the region, a country which is very well placed to promote and effectively support the multiple benefits of EU membership.
Regarding the transatlantic partnership, the lines of action will seek to reflect the crucial importance of the transatlantic relationship in maintaining the global multilateral order, the importance of strengthening international law and the EU’s role in supporting effective multilateralism at regional level.
Also, the enhancement of the EU-UN relationship is due to common priorities in terms of strengthening global governance, sustainable development and peace-building. The exercise of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council and the solid profile of Romania within the UN fosters the formulation of objectives in order to stimulate the EU-UN cooperation on several dimensions, from maintaining peace to the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and by assimilating the role of promoter in the preparation of the EU report for the High Level Political Forum in 2019 on the review of the implementation of Agenda 2030.
Finally, in the exercise of the Presidency of the EU Council, Romania will seek to promote cohesion as a common EU value, underlining the importance of the foundations of European construction in rebuilding citizens’ confidence.
Promoting the values enshrined in the Treaties, such as cohesion, equality, freedom, democracy, human dignity, justice, solidarity, can contribute to combating Eurosceptic, populist, nationalist, racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic speeches and provide real support for the European project.
Also, the sustainable use of local potential in development policies is another desideratum to be supported by the Presidency of Romania at the EU Council.
In the context of globalization, local peculiarities provide identity to communities but, at the same time, they are means of attracting economic activities.
In this respect, by holding the Presidency of the EU Council, Romania will firmly support efforts towards the goal of a more democratic Union, with a view to ensure the equal treatment that all Member States and all European citizens, to aspire to bring European citizens closer to the decision-making process in Brussels and to make the functioning of the EU more efficient.
In the exercise of its mandate, Romania will seek to ensure an effective presidency by assuming the role of an impartial mediator and a consensus facilitator in fulfilling the tasks related to the presidency of the Council and the advancement of the European agenda.
Romania will act as an active and constructive partner, having as a premise a unitary, transparent, inclusive approach, favourable to the continuation of the consolidation of the European project, supported by the Romanian authorities, citizens and society as a whole.
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
These four pillars are not exclusive. Other suggestions may be added. It is important that, at the end of our action, we succeed in imposing these objectives on the European agenda and in finding the results of our actions in the decisions made by the European institutions.
Romania’s Presidency at the EU Council is just one step in our quest to increase Romania’s European profile and live up to the level of responsibilities of a country with an increased share after Brexit.
Finally, I would like to once again thank the General Secretariat of the Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the other rotating presidencies for the fruitful collaboration, of which we have had much to learn. Being convinced that only “the union makes the power” – I invite you to continue working together to have a successful Presidency of Romania at the Council of the European Union!
I also want to thank all the leaders and representatives of the political parties in the Parliament, for their unanimous support for the themes resulting from the public consultation process conducted over the past year, expressed a few weeks ago by the 2 European Affairs Committees of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies and the Joint Special Committee for the preparation of the parliamentary activities necessary for the preparation of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Because this year we celebrate the Centenary of the Great Union, I think it is obligatory to follow the example of our forefathers by showing that around the projects of national interest we manage to overcome the differences to show our European partners and the citizens we represent what Romania is capable of doing for the success of the European project.
Let’s not miss out on the chance that we are offered, let’s join our efforts and dare more for a strong and European Romania!