On March 12, 2019, Minister Delegate for European Affairs George Ciamba chaired an informal meeting in Bucharest of the ministers and secretaries of state for European affairs in the EU member states, an event that is part of the usual agenda of the rotational Presidency of the EU Council. Along with the ministers and secretaries of state for European affairs, the European Commission’s First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, also attended the event. The meeting was also preceded by an informal exchange of views, in the presence of representatives of the European Parliament, on the future Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
The informal meeting in Bucharest provided the opportunity for a first exchange of views at ministerial level among member states on the future EU Strategic Agenda for the next years, as well as a new debate on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, through which the political objectives formulated by the EU are implemented. By setting this agenda, the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council has pursued sending out a message on the importance of a thorough reflection on the future priorities of the Union by ensuring greater consistency among the various European policies and instruments and the best ways of reflecting these priorities in future European budget.
The meeting started with a working session on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. Member states particularly appreciated the initiative of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council to hold ministerial discussions on issues aiming to ensure European policy coherence and flexibility through the new European budget. At the same time, participants expressed their interest in continuing such debates over other especially relevant aspects within the new Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 for advancing negotiations on this file which is deemed as an EU priority.
The exchange of views underlined the importance granted by member states to providing a budget that is both flexible, capable of quickly rising to new challenges, but also predictable, including from the perspective of its timely adoption, which is an important aspect in providing continuity of European programmes and projects over the next financial period. A conclusion has also been reached on the necessity to agree on a budget that may provide an efficient response in the various areas of interest for citizens, from tackling climate change to employment issues and strengthening the single market, to the cohesion policy and the common agricultural policy, or the management of potential crisis situations in fields such as security or migration.
”The multiannual EU budget is a key instrument allowing for the application of EU’s political priorities. One of the aspects we studied today refers to the ways in which this budget could be better adapted and more flexible in facing new challenges. The discussions revealed the importance of preserving European policies which generate growth, competitiveness and convergence within the Union, on the one hand, but also the need for a budget which should allow for an adequate and rapid response to the new challenges that the Union is facing at both internal and external levels, on the other,” stated the minister delegate for European affairs.
In the context of these discussions, Minister Delegate George Ciamba highlighted the significant progress made by the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council in the form of provisional agreements with the European Parliament over certain priority sectoral proposals in the framework of the future community budget. He underlined that the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council shall continue negotiations at an intense pace in order to facilitate achievement of the political objective undertaken by the Union, namely that of facilitating an agreement for the European Council in the autumn of 2019.
The discussions on the Multiannual Financial Framework during the first session were preceded by an exchange of views between the European officials and the European Parliament representatives on this specific subject. Both the members of the European Parliament and the member states welcomed the initiative of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council to organise this discussion between institutions, considering the major part played by the European Parliament in defining the future multiannual budget of the Union, together with the Council and the European Commission.
The second working session of the European officials focused on the future Strategic Agenda of the European Union in the context of the upcoming European elections and the setting of the next institutional cycle. Minister Delegate George Ciamba pointed out that the debates aimed at an initial ministerial-level discussion on the future Strategic Agenda, in preparation of the European Council in June, when this reference document for steering the Union’s activity over the next five years is to be adopted.
Starting from evaluating the implementation of the EU strategic objectives set out in 2014, the European officials reflected on the ways and necessary instruments to adapt the Strategic Agenda to new realities, as well as on the main priorities which should be included in the future strategic document. Member states expressed their preference for consolidating action in fields such as the internal market, focusing on industrial policy and digital services, consolidating the Economic and Monetary Union, migration, security, climate change, but also stating the need for efficient action which should lead to strengthening the Union at a global level.
On these lines, the Romanian official stated: ”We need a common, inclusive and goal-driven vision, which should allow the Union to adapt to a quickly shifting environment. The future Strategic Agenda should be a clear reflection of the EU-level resolution to reach results. We need solutions which anticipate the citizens’ preoccupations and current challenges, as well as a long-term strategic thinking. The fields and policies that were discussed today are, to a great extent, subordinated to the need for strengthening cohesion at an EU-level, in all its dimensions.’