Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă’s meeting with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani
Address by Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă at the meeting of the EP Conference of Presidents with the Romanian Government
Viorica Dăncilă: President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, presidents of the political groups, distinguished European officials, welcome to Romania, welcome to the Romanian Government. We appreciate your presence here today, in the Centennial Year, a year in which Romania celebrates one hundred years since the Greater Union. We enjoy your presence here, on the first visit prior to Romania’s taking over the presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1, 2019.
The talks we will have today, will focus on important topics for the European Union, and on other topics linked mainly to Romania’s preparedness for taking over the presidency of the Council of the EU, I think that they will bring added value, and at the same time, they will help us to see common points regarding both the future presidency of the Council of the European Union and from the European Parliament’s point of view.
I want to assure you from the very beginning that Romania is ready to take over the presidency of the Council of the European Union. We are prepared both from an organizational and logistic point of view, but also from the point of view of the program that we have for taking over the presidency.
Joint press statements by Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă and the European Parliament President Antonio Tajani
Viorica Dăncilă: Good afternoon. It is our great pleasure to welcome today, in Bucharest, the European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, to host the conference of presidents that includes all leaders of political groups in the European Parliament as well as senior European officials. This meeting is part of the series of meetings prior to Romania’s taking over the presidency of the Council of the European Union, on January 1, 2019. I assured our guests, I assured President Antonio Tajani that we are ready to take over the presidency, that we are on schedule both regarding the organizational and logistic preparation and regarding the programme of the presidency of the Council of the European Union. The programme we will adopt, the final form will be voted in short time, in the Romanian Parliament. I assured him that Romania intends to have an ambitious, but also realistic presidency. I say ambitious because we want to offer a positive response to the current challenges at European level, that we aim to solve as many dossiers as we can, that are on the Presidency’s table, but, at the same time, a realistic one as well, because this, as well as many of the challenges are not just up to Romania, they depend on a political agreement, a co-decision between the European institutions, and I refer to the European Parliament, the European Commission, and, of course, the European Council. We discussed the main challenges existing at European level. I refer to Brexit, the future of the European Union after Brexit, and in this respect, I highlighted the Sibiu Summit of May 9, 2019, challenges related to Multiannual Financial Framework, and in this regard, special importance is attached to the next European Council talks in December. We discussed issues related to traditional policies, cohesion policy and common agricultural policy, and we also brought to the forefront aspects pertaining to defence policy, security policy, migration, terrorism, youth related issues.
I highlighted the fact that Romania will be an impartial mediator, facilitating consensus, Romania will have great openness to dialogue, cooperation with European institutions, constructive cooperation with all political groups. We need to give a response awaited by European citizens, a response folded on European reality, responses designed to unite, not divide Europe and we can achieve this only together. Taking into account the fact that during the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union held by Romania, the Strategic Agenda 2014 – 2019 is closing, expectations are very high, and the responses we will give, are those awaited by all European institutions, all Member States, and European citizens. As regards the programme of the presidency, we outlined the fact that we focus on four main pillars: a cohesive Europe, Europe’ s security , the boost of the European Union’s global role and, at the same time, the promotion of the European values. At the same time, we will extend special attention to Western Balkans, and also to Eastern Partnership. In our programme, we extend special attention to the Danube Strategy, especially that on November 1 this year, Romania took over the EUSDR presidency. There are many problems, we are aware that we have more than 200 legislative and nonlegislative dossiers on the presidency’s table, waiting for a positive response. In connection to these dossiers, I outlined the fact that each Ministry knows what it has to do, as well as the dossiers it has in progress, it knows it has to have a trilogue with the Commission and the Parliament, and that there is a prioritization of these dossiers. To us, it is an exam. Romania holds for the first time the presidency of the Council of the European Union. We hope that we will successfully pass this exam, and our success will be not only Romania’s success, but the success of the entire European construction, of all European institutions, and for this, I want to thank in advance the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, for his openness, openness to dialogue, to support. I want to thank the European Commission for its confidence in Romania regarding the takeover and exercise of the presidency. I would like to thank once again our guests and we hope that this first meeting, in which we have managed to bring to the forefront many of the European topics, is the first of a series of meetings to be held in Bucharest, in Brussels, Strasbourg or Luxembourg. Thank you. Mr. President, you have the floor.
Antonio Tajani: First of all, I thank the Romanian Government, the Romanian Prime Minister for the warm welcome you gave us here, in Bucharest. It is our first meeting to prepare the Romanian presidency. As Prime Minister has said, we want this presidency to be a success not only for Romania but for the entire European Union. There are a lot of dossiers that we need to try to solve as the Romanian Prime Minister reminded on today’s meeting.
We had first a bilateral meeting followed by this meeting with the members of the Romanian Cabinet and with the conference of the parliamentary groups in the European Parliament. We discussed Brexit, we discussed the priorities of the European Parliament which need to be considered and mentioned in this agreement. It’s about the rights of the European citizens of the UK, 3.6 million European citizens live in the UK. Also, the rights of British citizens across the EU are important. The commitments made by the UK for the 2014 – 2020 Financial Framework must be maintained and, as a third point – regarding the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Peace must be guaranteed, observance of the well-known Good Friday Agreement must be guaranteed, but this border must be flexible, and the entry on EU territory of food or other goods that may be harmful to our citizens, must be prevented. The entry of products that make unfair competition to our agriculture and agri-food industry must be avoided. We will cooperate to attain this objective. We all trust chief negotiator Barnier and we hope a positive agreement is reached. The European Parliament will have the final say, but we will work closely with the Romanian Presidency and the European Commission to be able to protect the interests of the European citizens,
Other very important topic to us – and in this respect, we requested the cooperation of the Romanian Government in order to reach a positive solution – it is about migration and especially about the set of seven proposals, which also refer to the reform of the Dublin regulation. As you know, the Parliament adopted a legislative text. Now we want the Council, in its turn, to accept our proposals, even if there is about a possible compromise, but in order to obtain this, we need determined and resolute action on the part of the Romanian Government. On today’s meeting, we received assurances of the hardworking involvement of the Government in Bucharest in settling this issue, and I hereby thank Mrs. Prime Minister,
Other important issue, the migration. The European Parliament wants to make investments in Africa by means of a strategy that we called the ‘Marshall Plan for Africa’. It is however clear that not only migration is a source of concern – as the security of the EU external borders and combating terrorism must also be considered, therefore it is important for Africa to become a stable continent.
Other topic we have addressed: the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021- 2027. We received assurances from the Romanian Government regarding efforts to reach at least an agreement regarding the General Financial Framework. We insist that member states do not postpone this dossier until after the European elections because it is fair for the citizens to know what the EU’s intentions for the future are, therefore we want to bring the citizens increasingly closer to the European institutions. You know there is this issue, many citizens feel they are driven away by the European institutions, and this is why concrete solutions are necessary in this respect.
I agree with what Prime Minister has recently stated in connection with the agricultural policy and the cohesion funds. There is a great deal of resistance in the European Parliament against the European Commission’s proposals on the Common Agricultural Policy, and these proposals may end up being rejected by the European Parliament. We will see what happens, but we have large reservations as regards the content. The Parliament does not want Common Agricultural Policy funds to be cut and we also defend the EU’s cohesion policy. Of course we will have to work closely with the Romanian Presidency to obtain positive results. We want own resources for the European budget, we want the budget to grow from 1.1 to 1.3 of the Community’s GDP and we want to do this without asking for extra money from the member states. For instance, we are in favor of a tax on Internet giants’ activity. These aspects have been tackled.
Talks have also referred to the EU’s external security and regarding the observance of rule of law, and defending the fundamental values of the EU and human rights, these must be respected in all European countries, and we also said that action must be taken to defend them elsewhere too. I am thinking of Venezuela, Nicaragua, of other regions where, unfortunately, the freedom of the press, for instance, is limited. Over the next few months, the European Union will make its voice heard in this respect.
Therefore, I consider this first meeting in Bucharest to be a positive one, the more so as the Romanian Government committed to supporting certain initiatives of the European Parliament. I am thinking of the Dublin Agreement, the reform of Dublin system, and of reaching a political agreement on the budget. This is a signal of high availability that the Romanian Government conveys to us. We are prepared to work together with the next Presidency. On May 9, we will attend the Sibiu Summit, when we will have the occasion to convey a strong message to the voters, because we want turnout in the next European elections to be as high as possible. Last but not least, I think it is high time to accelerate Romania’s accession to Schegen area, because in order to better secure our borders and enhance our security, certain countries that are still waiting must enter the Schengen area as soon as possible.