This Council Presidency taken over by Romania on January 1, 2019 will inevitably impact the electoral campaign for the European elections in May. And yet, the government of Bucharest, still outside the eurozone and the Schengen Area, wishes to make this mandate into a turning point for domestic policy, concomitant with the celebration of the Great Union Centenary.
Indeed, this is the wish of the Bucharest government and of the newly appointed Minister for European Affairs George Ciamba on the eve of the meeting with the College of Commissioners that will take place in the capital of Romania next Thursday. The motto of the Presidency is “Cohesion, a common European value”. As far as migration is concerned, according to the clarifications Minister Ciamba offered in this interview for Il Sole 24 Ore, the Romanian Presidency will focus on the need for shared responsibility. With regard to Romania’s accession to the eurozone, Minister Ciamba is confident that there will be a fast decision on that matter, as well as on the accession to the Schengen Area.
Garardo Pelosi: Minister Ciamba, the beginning of the Romanian Presidency was preceded by a domestic controversy between President Iohannis and Prime Minister Dăncilă on the topic of the country’s real capacity to be at the helm at the EU. Can Romania say it is now ready for the new challenge?
George Ciamba: The preparation process for the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU started in due time and was managed in a sustained and adequate way, ensuring the optimal takeover of the mandate on January 1. It was a strenuous and thorough preparation process. Nevertheless, through a sustained effort of the entire public administration in Romania, we have succeeded in turning this exercise into a national project in which we are fully engaged. I express my trust in Romania’s capacity to ensure a successful mandate. The vision we will project during our Council Presidency mandate will build on the principle of cohesion, which is also reflected in the motto of the Presidency: “Cohesion, a common European value”.
What is the stage reached in the process of Romania’s accession to the eurozone, which started long time ago?
Romania’s accession to the eurozone is one of our country’s priorities in the EU, as we have already committed to this objective in the Accession Treaty. Romania follows closely the files related to strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union, both from the perspective of a non-eurozone Member State and of a state that aspires to join the eurozone. Romania has a strong economic growth and a stable currency. If we succeed in maintaining these two elements on the same level until joining the eurozone, we believe we will not be faced with particular problems.
What are the developments in the negotiations for the accession to the Schengen Area?
Romania has proved to be a responsible and committed partner in the European Union, one that makes a substantial contribution to the collective effort to improve the Union’s internal security. Our country is interested in protecting the free movement of persons and in contributing to the good functioning of the Schengen Area. Accession to the Schengen Area remains one of Romania’s legitimate objectives and represents a commitment deriving from the Accession Treaty. The recent resolution of the European Parliament of December 11 reconfirms that Romania is fully prepared to join the Schengen Area.
What is Romania’s vision on the management of the migration phenomenon?
Migration is a complex phenomenon that requires comprehensive actions. Although we are no longer facing a migration crisis, similar to the one in 2015, there still remain a number of important challenges in the management of this phenomenon. Indeed, Italy is still among the Member States that are most affected by this phenomenon and therefore the topic is highly important and sensitive to your country. We will continue to support the actions and tools aimed at addressing this phenomenon in a comprehensive way, also form our position of Council Presidency, by continuing the cooperation initiatives on the external dimension, in dialogue with the third countries of origin and of transit. We must keep providing EU support, including financial support, to all the regions with a migration potential. The initiatives of the European Commission and of individual Member States, such as Italy, in strengthening cooperation with African countries are extremely useful from this perspective.