As part of her visit to Brussels, Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă attended the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions today, February 6, 2019, to present the priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă highlighted the important part that the European Committee of the Regions plays in bridging the local and regional authorities and European institutions, and pointed out that the CoR will be an important partner for the duration of Romania’s mandate.
Further, Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă presented the four priority directions of action of the Romanian Presidency, at the heart of which lies the concept of cohesion, as a common European value: Europe of convergence, Europe of safety, Europe as a global actor, Europe of common values.
In her intervention, the head of the executive referred to the complex files Romania has to manage in exercising its mandate: negotiating the future Multiannual Financial Framework, Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, as well as migration, security and a reflection on the future of the Union.
Last but not least, Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă pointed out that another major objective for Romania is to promote an enhanced framework for macro-regional cooperation, also through the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, and thanked the members of the Committee for their openness regarding this topic.
Speech by the Prime Minister of Romania, Viorica Dăncilă, during the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions – Presentation of the priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council
Dear President of the European Committee of the Regions,
Dear members of European Committee of the Regions,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank you, President Lambertz, and the members of the European Committee of the Regions for inviting me to present the priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council at the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions, a body which represents a real bridge between local and regional authorities and European institutions.
The agenda and developments at European level are marked by multiple challenges that we must address through cohesion, unity and solidarity. That is why the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council goes under the motto “Cohesion, a common European value”, reflecting the importance of returning to the foundations of the European Union by affirming cohesion in all its aspects: political cohesion, economic and territorial cohesion, social cohesion.
The concept of cohesion is transposed into our priorities, organised around four pillars of action: Europe of convergence, Europe of safety, Europe as a global actor, Europe of common values.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are all going through a time when we must work together towards refocusing the European citizens’ attention to the benefits of the European project for their everyday lives.
We are facing a European context marked by the process of UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, the negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework or other major files, such as migration and security or the reflection on the future of the Union.
We must demonstrate, together and now, that the Union still has the capacity to make progress in strengthening European policies and to achieve tangible results for its citizens. In this respect, the first pillar of the Romanian Presidency’s Programme is devoted to the “Europe of Convergence”.
From this perspective, we are thoroughly monitoring the negotiations on the future Financial Framework. The future multiannual budget will have to provide the resources required to achieve the objectives by balancing growth and convergence policies, such as the Cohesion Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy, and policies meant to respond to new challenges such as migration, security or defence.
The future of the cohesion policy also ranks as a priority on our agenda. Without this policy, regional and local disparities would have been much deeper.
The cohesion policy has created partnerships and bridges between Europe’s institutions, regions and cities. The European Union still needs a sound cohesion policy as its main investment strategy.
The cohesion policy has evolved and managed to meet new challenges. At the same time, this policy needs real measures to render it simpler and more streamlined.
We will continue negotiations on the cohesion policy at a fast pace for the timely adoption of the relevant legislative package. The launch of future operational programmes will enable the benefits of this policy to be reflected in the daily lives of Europe’s citizens, cities and regions.
Allow me to thank the President of the European Committee of the Regions for the strong signal that he has been sending, ever since the initiation of debates on the future Financial Framework, on preserving the level of cohesion funds and on the need to continue this policy as one addressing all regions and cities.
Promoting an enhanced framework for macro-regional cooperation – also through the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) – is another important objective for us. We particularly appreciate your openness to formulating an opinion on the role of macro-regional strategies.
Romania is also involved in implementing the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. We have a new National Strategy for Sustainable Development. We will take efforts to prepare the guidelines for a new EU strategy for sustainable development.
Strengthening social cohesion implies ensuring economic convergence at European level. Therefore, in all its dimensions we need a fully operational single market, free competition and fair, transparent rules, as well as active mobility.
One of the priorities of the Romanian Presidency is also related to enhancing labour mobility. In this context, we are going to continue the negotiations on files such as the revision of regulations on social security coordination and establishing the European Labour Authority. Ensuring equal opportunities and gender equality is an objective that Romania wishes to promote at European level.
One objective has already been achieved by reaching a provisional political agreement with the European Parliament regarding the proposal for a directive on work-life balance for parents and carers.
We are concerned about consolidating economic growth, the resilience of the European economy, and incentives for investment, at both the micro- and the macroeconomic levels. In this respect, the Romanian Presidency will pursue to advance the discussions on deepening the Economic and Monetary Union in a constructive manner, capable of supporting the increase of its cohesion, convergence and resilience to financial and economic challenges.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Romanian Presidency defined the second pillar of its action to be “A Safer Europe”.
The issue of migration is a subject that concerns us all. We aim to continue our efforts in addressing all its aspects.
In a digital world, protecting the safety of citizens in the virtual space becomes an important goal. Public policies and any project related to the digital environment need to consider cyber security.
Our vision also includes “Europe as a global actor”, with an emphasis on the common commitments undertaken by the EU’s Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy.
We will promote strengthening the European defence and security capabilities as closely complementary with similar processes within NATO.
Ensuring greater consistency of European action in the Eastern Neighbourhood will be a priority, as this year marks the tenth anniversary since the launch of the Eastern Partnership. At the same time, we support the advancement of the enlargement policy and, in this respect, particular attention will be granted to the Western Balkans.
Last but not least, I want to make a few references to the fourth pillar of our priorities – “Europe of common values”. In view of the approaching European elections, we must provide a matching response to the temptation of Eurosceptic and populist discourse, by promoting a Union that is more democratic and closer to its citizens.
We also believe that education and culture are the key to the future of Europe, both from the individual perspective of the European citizen and in terms of strengthening the European project. Local and regional authorities and communities can play an important part in this respect.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I believe that all European actors can contribute to our shared success in promoting a more cohesive, united and secure Europe. The European Committee of the Regions, all of you, play an important role in bonding European policies and local and regional communities, the Union and its citizens.
I am convinced that the 8th European Summit of Regions and Cities, to be held in Bucharest in March, will make an important contribution to sending out a signal of confidence in the future of the Union, a signal of European unity and commitment to a stronger Union over the next decade.
Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we are looking forward to welcoming you in Bucharest in March! Thank you!