Antonio Tajani: Good evening everybody. First of all, I want to underline the support of the European Parliament for the Romanian Presidency. As I said during my meeting with Prime Minister, for the European Parliament, we need to work hard for achieving good solution on the package on immigration. For us, Dublin reform is a priority. The European Parliament want to achieve an agreement with the member states, we need to do more, the problem is in the hand of the Council, for this, I think, we are pushing a lot with the Romanian presidency, for us, it is very, very important. The other point is Brexit, the European elections, for us, it is crucial to achieve good results on the legislative level, on the other most important issues, for sending a message to the European citizens, I refer to European elections. Also, on the budget, we want to have a vote on the financial framework, it is not easy, I know, but for us, it is important to underline the importance of the MFF for explaining to the citizens, our engagement for good solutions on the most important points, not only immigration, but unemployment, youth’s unemployment, terrorism, defence of our border. These are the key points for us. We will support the Romanian presidency, we will count on your support for this very important point. Thank you very much.
Viorica Dăncilă: I want to thank the President Antonio Tajani and the entire European Parliament for the hospitality you showed me on the occasion of my participation in the plenary session today, in Strasbourg, during which, I presented our European vision as reflected in the programme of priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
During today’s discussions, I showed that the core objective of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is to contribute to the creation of a more united and more cohesive Europe. This is also the reason for which we chose as motto of our presidency cohesion as a common European value. I have appreciated the support expressed by President Tajani in the discussions that we have had about this core objective of our presidency of the Council of the European Union. We agreed during our dialogue that, without a united, cohesive Europe, we cannot hope to give the necessary responses to the current challenges facing the Union and to obtain concrete results that our citizens expect. As it was said during the meeting of the European Parliament, we have 242 dossiers pending completion. They are difficult dossiers requiring consensus and we hope that together with the European Parliament, the European Commission, we will be able to finalize as many dossiers as possible that are on the European agenda. At the same time, as the President of the European Parliament stated, we need to give a response to some challenges that EU has not faced so far – I refer to Brexit – but, at the same time, to post –Brexit future of the European Union. An important event in this respect will be the Sibiu Summit, where we will shape the EU’s future together with the member states.
The multiannual financial framework is yet another challenge, an important dossier for which we need to take important steps, and at the same time, we also have to pay a close attention to traditional policies such as the Common Agricultural Policy and the Cohesion Policy, but also to the dossiers on migration, asylum policy, defence policy, foreign policy, which need consensus which we hope to obtain within the EU Council.
Romania will fulfill its duty as an impartial mediator and facilitator of consensus and we hope that our responses to be as close as possible to the European citizens. All these challenges, awaiting responses from us, closing as many dossiers as possible that will need to take place in the first part of this year, because, as you know, elections for the EP will be held in May, and we need to focus our activity in the first part of the year. We hope that through the responses given, the decisions we will take together, the European Union will become stronger also in respect of the concrete results for citizens. It is important for citizens to be able to better perceive the tangible results and the added value of the European project as this is necessary in the context of the future European elections.
As holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, we are determined to have a constructive role in identifying, together with the European Parliament, the best ways to advance the process of European integration, while pursuing a positive, consensual agenda and, as we have previously emphasized, a citizen-oriented one.
Reporter: A question for both senior officials. President Tajani, both you and other officials from the EU institutions, mentioned that you have expectations from Romania to advance as much as possible the negotiations for the multiannual financial framework. This new multiannual financial framework also includes a program called “Values and democracy in the European Union”. Will you have a vote on Thursday on this program and on some rules to freeze payments to countries that do not observe the rule of law? What concrete expectations do you have from the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU to advance the negotiations on the multiannual financial framework, specifically on this issue, taking into account the possible opposition in the Council? Hungary and Poland would be just two of the states, for instance, that can block this. And for the Prime Minister: advancing negotiations on the multiannual financial framework is a priority for Romania. Within this framework, let us say, of the Presidency, what will be Romania’s position as President of the Council of the European Union on this issue of freezing payments to EU states that do not observe the rule of law or jeopardize it? Thank you very much!
Antonio Tajani: As regards the multiannual financial framework, we insist that it be adopted as soon as possible, the general framework and as regards various programmes, we hope we can approve them before the Europeanelections. We really insist on this, and and we tried to make it clear to the Council of the Member States that we cannot afford not to give answers to the citizens. We made proposals with figures. We have called for the Community budget to grow from 1 percent to 1.3 percent and we have bet on own resources. We do not want to discuss for each program in part with the Council what interests us. It is the adoption of the general framework, the multiannual general framework, because how can you talk about the fund, for instance, for the Common Agricultural Policy, while it is uncertain what will happen to the UK, we cannot discuss individual programs, I cannot tell you now what will be the position of Poland, Hungary or Romania. We do not debate only individual programs.
Viorica Dăncilă: Currently, these issues are being negotiated within the Council. We must continue negotiations with the Member States and we must take into account the proposals made by the Member States. Otherwise, it is very important that any criteria related to the use of European funds be clear, transparent and are in the direct interest of the beneficiaries of European funds. I believe that these issues need to be taken into consideration and, as I mentioned earlier, the rotating Presidency should be an impartial mediator and bring consensus among the Member States.
Reporter: A question for both Mr. President Tajani and Prime Minister Viorica Dancila. Mr. Tajani, last week when you were in Romania you said you would call on the other Member States on the Schengen issue. We know very well that this is a double standard, but applies at European level in this issue to both Bulgaria and Romania, but the same double standard is found in other situations. What can you do as President of the European Parliament so that there is no difference between the citizens at EU level given that they are going to have such important parliamentary elections, as you pointed out a few minutes ago? Ms. Premier Viorica Dăncilă, how will the Romanian EU Council Presidency fight for the elimination of this double standard? Thank you.
Antonio Tajani: I reaffirm my position in favor of the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen Area. It is an appeal that I launched in my official speech which I delivered last week in Bucharest. I did the same during the press conference. I have not changed my mind. For me, Bulgaria and Romania can enter without any problems in the Schengen Area.
Viorica Dăncilă: As you well know, Romania fulfills all the technical criteria for joining the Schengen Area. As early as 2011, the Commission has highlighted this aspect, and I think that all countries should take this political decision, to give confidence in the EU, to trust that there is no difference in approaching different countries. I believe in the support of President Antonio Tajani, I believe in the support of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and I believe that this political decision that Romania joins the Schengen area is a decision that should be taken by the end of the Romanian EU Presidency, it should be taken even before the European Parliament elections, because this would give more confidence in the EU, it would show that there are no first hand and second-hand countries or first-hand and second-hand citizens. It is an act of justice that is done for the two countries and I think this should be done by resuming talks with the countries that oppose Romania’s accession to the Schengen area. I will personally do this, this demarche must also be done by the President of Romania, and I think this discussion should also take place in the Justice and Home Affairs Council.