Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă has presented the achievements of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council.
“Today I am presenting the results achieved during the first two months of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The European Community means a better life, social security and cohesion, guaranteed rights and freedoms for hundreds of millions of citizens. These have been the guiding principles of our actions and are inspiring us in fulfilling this mandate.
The Romanian Government, Ministers and the Permanent Representatives have acted professionally and responsibly, and in only two months we have achieved results that other Presidencies have not obtained in their entire mandate.
This demonstrates how baseless were the attacks and gloomy predictions made before we took over this mandate, and that their authors acted for purely electoral motives and did not care that they were showing Romania in an unfavourable light abroad.
Despite these attacks, we have delivered an efficient and high quality mandate, extremely well appreciated by all our European partners. Romanians do have reason to be proud, as in all high level meetings that we had over this period, Romania was praised for its exceptional management of the difficult files under discussion.
Ministers have presided over many meetings, proving that the Romanian Government has the necessary ability and experience to help identify the best solutions for the major topics of the European agenda: defining the European Union’s Budget beyond 2020, the operation of the European Single Market and industrial competitiveness, promoting digitalisation, social right protection, internal security, combatting terrorism, managing migration challenges, the future of the EU after Brexit.
We have achieved consensus, even for files that had been stalling for a long time, by close cooperation and an open and constructive dialogue with representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the General Secretariat of the Council, as well as with all member states.
Since taking over our mandate, we managed over 650 events and meetings, both in our country and in Brussels, which were attended by over 2,600 delegates.
Interinstitutional collaboration is very important for the fulfilment of the rotational presidency. Consequently, we held consultations related to our mandate’s priorities with all European partners: The College of Commissioners, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and all European leaders.
We act together in order to best respond to the citizens’ legitimate expectations by involving all institutions, the civil society and local and regional authorities in drafting the policies of the European Union.
At the same time, we have been dedicated to promoting European values by combatting intolerance, xenophobia, antisemitism and racism.
One of the first events we organised as holder of the rotational presidency was the Conference on the fight against antisemitism, precisely in order to send a firm message of rejection of any forms of discrimination.
From the very fist days of our mandate, we set a fast pace of activities, as we were aware that we need to manage an important number of files over a shorter period of time compared to other presidencies.
Considering that the European Parliament elections are held during our mandate, we intensified discussions with the European Parliament, in order to close as many files as possible.
And we managed to complete negotiations on 67 files of major impact at EU level, which means that, in only two months, the Romanian Government achieved consensus on a larger number of European topics than other governments holding rotational presidency achieved over 6 months.
We take pride in achievements on all four pillars of our mandate’s priorities: Europe of convergence, Europe of safety, Europe as a global actor and Europe of common values.
We are therefore a presidency yielding results for citizens in all fields.
Within the pillar “Europe of convergence”, we achieved results in areas related to economic growth and employment.
In terms of promoting digitalization, innovation and connectivity, we reached preliminary agreements with the European Parliament on files such as copyright, the relationship between online platforms and retailers, the Digital Europe Programme or the larger scale use of data financed by public funds.
The update of the legal framework regarding copyright was a major success for our presidency, considering that discussions on this topic had been stalling for over 3 years.
The new regulations will unlock the opportunities from the digital world, both for authors, whose rights should be fully observed, as well as for the European citizens, as beneficiaries of the advantages of a single digital market.
With respect to the Digital Europe Programme, in a single trialogue, we managed to obtain a partial preliminary political agreement with the European Parliament. We are convinced that this programme will bring substantial advantages to all our citizens and companies, by stimulating investments in such fields that are crucial for competitiveness and innovation, such as artificial intelligence, high-performance computers and cyber security.
For a less polluted environment, we advanced a file on the European agenda – the file on promoting clean vehicles. Together with the European Parliament, we managed to stimulate the market and encourage public authorities to use low carbon dioxide emission vehicles. Moreover, the Romanian Presidency and the European Parliament reached a political agreement on the faster introduction of aerodynamic cabins on the transportation market. These cabins will save fuel, improve visibility, safety and comfort for drivers, and will enhance safety for other road users.
From a social point of view, we also took actual steps in terms of workers’ rights protection. We completed key files in the social area and I would like to mention only a few of them:
The Directive which will provide for a higher predictability and clarity regarding working conditions. These are norms which will benefit millions of European workers.
The Directive on work-life balance for working parents and carers, with an important contribution to promoting gender equality, or the norms on reducing exposure to carcinogenic factors at the workplace.
These are regulations which respond to current challenges at the European Union level.
The Romanian Presidency has also taken an important step toward a better functioning of the labour market at the European level. We have reached a consensus with the European Parliament on the Regulation regarding the establishment of the European Labour Authority (ELA). This body will sustain the application of the EU legislation and will provide employers and employees with information regarding labour mobility.
An exceptional achievement in the energy field is the political agreement with the European Parliament on the proposal to revise the Natural Gas Directive.
This achievement of the Romanian Presidency is all the more important as it enjoyed a large support from member states, after a long period of intense and extremely difficult negotiations, considering the complexity and impact of this proposal from a geo-strategic perspective, as well as for consolidating the EU’s energy security.
This approach will contribute to providing a unified and transparent regulatory framework at European level regarding natural gas interconnections with third-party states, in the context of the European Union’s strategic objective of enhancing energy security.
Moreover, the Romanian Presidency completed the file on the new norms which will ensure that the products introduced on the single market are safe and compliant with the legislation regarding health, consumer protection, environment protection and public safety.
The health of European finances is essential for economic growth.
Ministers are working hard together with the permanent representation for defining the future multiannual budget of the Union – one of the most important files we are managing as acting Presidency. Completion of the Multiannual Financial Framework is more than an agreement on the amounts that each member state receives from the European budget.
The European Council appointed the Council of the European Union to continue negotiations. The Romanian Presidency has the role to develop guidelines for their next stage, with a view to reaching a political agreement on this file in the autumn of this year.
Based on this mandate, we are pursuing the conclusion of a simplified and balanced negotiation paper that could facilitate European leaders’ decisions. At the same time, we have seen progress regarding the sectoral proposals for the Multiannual Financial Framework.
Specifically, we managed to obtain agreements with the European Parliament on several priority sectoral proposals, such as: The European Defence Fund, the Fiscalis Programme, the InvestEU Programme, the 2021-2027 Digital Europe Programme.
New rules have also been established, aimed at reducing risks in the EU banking sector. These measures will ensure that the banking sector has sufficient capital to grant loans to natural and legal entities in safe conditions, while tax payers are protected against any difficulties they may encounter with the banks.
The pillar “Europe of safety”. Citizens’ safety is also at the centre of the actions we took and will continue to take during the rotational presidency.
From this point of view, the consolidation of the Union’s external border protection is a priority objective.
During our discussions in these two months, we managed to advance negotiations on extending the mandate for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and achieved EU Council agreement over the entire text of the Regulation regarding the consolidation of this agency’s mandate.
In the field of migration, the Romanian Presidency contributed to advancing discussions on all components targeting a complex approach to this phenomenon.
An important progress is also the achievement of the political agreement with the European Parliament regarding the revision of the legal framework for the European network of liaison officers on migration issues.
We are interested in enhancing these officers’ role in counteracting immigrant smuggling and improving the coordination between member states and third-party states. The benefit of the new regulations is that they will allow for a more efficient external Union border control.
In the field of internal security, we completed negotiations on the interoperability of computer systems within the EU. By facilitating exchange of information, the security and quality of external border controls will be enhanced, in order to prevent and combat illegal immigration.
We also completed negotiations on files regarding free movement within the EU, reducing terrorist threat and cross-border crime, as well as the revision of the legal framework for granting visas in order to facilitate business travels and tourism.
Another crucial file for citizens’ safety which was successfully managed and completed by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union – the Regulation regarding explosives precursors. These are stricter rules for the use of explosive substances, an important preventive measure in the context of efforts against terrorist threats.
In terms of consolidating Europe’s role as a global actor, the meetings between the ministers of foreign affairs and ministers of defence held in Bucharest hosted constructive debates on a series of strategic topics on the common agenda.
I shall point out the advancement of the Western Balkans’ road to Europe, the perspectives of the Eastern Partnership, namely the consolidation and provision of coherence of new initiatives in the field of European defence.
The main objective at the centre of the Romanian Government’s priorities is to enhance citizens’ trust in the European construct by maintaining unity, cohesion and solidarity as core elements.
In this context, the European Parliament elections during our mandate represent a major point of interest. We are firmly committed to contribute to providing a safe environment for these elections, an environment that is free and fair.
The Romanian Presidency of the Council also achieved progress in obtaining a political agreement to modify the legislation on the functioning and funding of European political parties and foundations, with respect to preventing and sanctioning breach of data protection regulations in the electoral context.
We also saw the adoption of the General Affairs Council’s Conclusions regarding a series of non-legislative measures to ensure integrity and resilience of the European electoral process.
We aim at providing a coordinated response to the threats against this process of elections that is decisive for the future of the Union, threats which may come in many forms, among which hybrid threats, cyber threats and disinformation. Therefore, we aim to make certain that the Europe of values is promoted to the direct benefit of the European citizen.
Both in Brussels and in Bucharest, we highlighted the fact that the European Union may see progress in the spirit of the founding ideas of the European construct, but only by maintaining cohesion and surpassing the disparities between member states, in all of their forms.
As a matter of fact, this is the key motto of our presidency: “Cohesion, a common European value”.
From this perspective, our ministers continue to engage in sustaining traditional European policies: The Cohesion Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy, both with major impact in reducing disparities in development and providing for economic and social convergence.
We have already been successful in completing negotiations, together with the European Parliament and the European Commission, on the proposal for a Regulation regarding direct payments and the support of rural development for 2019-2020. We targeted a legislative framework which should support member states in the timely preparation for the application of the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and to ensure smooth transition to the next programming period.
Moreover, the agreement on the set of rules regarding unfair trading practices will provide protection for all farmers in the EU and the European food industry companies.
We also focused on the external dimension of the common policy for fishing, continuing steps towards completing the multiannual management plans and obtaining political agreement on several files with the support of the other policymakers.
We also achieved concrete results in the food safety field on the Internal Market. From this point of view, the political agreement with the European Parliament on the regulation proposal regarding the General Food Law will enhance citizens’ trust in the Union’s regulatory framework in terms of food safety.
Citizens will practically have easier access to information regarding food safety and human health.
Our achievements from the first two months of our mandate, based on active commitment and open dialogue with all European partners, can only come to prove the Romanian Government’s commitment to the European construct.
Our results so far and the determination to continue at the same pace have shown that Romania firmly believes in a strong and united Europe in all its dimensions: political economic and social.
Cabinet ministers, together with the teams of experts they coordinate and together with the Permanent Representation of Romania, have confirmed that the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is both capable and experienced to achieve the results expected by the citizens, and it was noted by all of our European partners.
This was a stage-level review and I am fully confident that we will continue at the same pace, and at the end of our six months of mandate we will come before all of you as a presidency of efficiency and quality, which achieved the expected results for a better life for all European citizens.
We are ready to negotiate on the following files and to lead events whose conclusions will contribute to the improvement of European policies.
The Romanian Government is on schedule with the preparation and organisation of the Summit in Sibiu on 9 May 2019, dedicated to the future of the European Union and the future strategic leaders’ agenda for 2019-2024.
At the same time, we will continue debates on important issues for the future of Europe, such as:
combatting discrimination, intolerance xenophobia, antisemitism and racism;
immigration and asylum policy;
reducing disparities between developing regions;
consolidating the single market;
social and border security.
I am confident that the Romanian Government will continue to achieve the expected results, also considering that we are now a full team, after the appointment of new ministers for Regional development and Transports.
In the end, since today is the International Women’s Day, I would like to congratulate all women and wish them success in all of their endeavours!
Ladies throughout Europe, please know that the Romanian Prime Minister is a firm supporter of gender equality, in all fields of society: economic, political and social.
On Wednesday I participated in the Women’s European Council in Brussels, and yesterday I opened a debate dedicated to promoting gender equality organised by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
I sent out the message that I firmly believe in: that new national and European measures are needed to reduce pay gaps between men and women, to promote women in business and management.
As Romania’s first female Prime Minister I am fully confident that women have the strength and qualities required to continue to improve society, implicitly by finding the best solutions for the future of Europe.