We are preparing to hand over the Presidency of the EU Council after six intense months, during which the European interest was the benchmark for the success of one of Romania’s most important national projects. It was a complex and ambitious first mandate, and a unique and cyclical one, at the same time. The uniqueness of our first Presidency resides in its novelty, but also in its challenges, which, most likely, will prove unrepeatable after 13 or 14 years.
On January 1, 2019, we embarked upon this journey with a promise: “During its Presidency of the EU Council, Romania will act as a genuine impartial mediator to generate solutions meant to advance the European agenda.” Today, I can assure you, endorsed by all our European Union partners in dialogue, that we have kept our promise. Many of our Presidency’s very good results are primarily due to our ability to keep our reserve of neutrality.
The success of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council is confirmed by figures and complemented by the courage to return to the authentic mission of a rotating presidency – the endeavour to act beyond the national interest and to deliver results for the benefit of all EU citizens. The quantifiable dimension I have often talked about lately – the record of the 90 closed legislative files, acquiring a qualified majority for the advancement of sensitive, stagnant projects, the preparation of the European Union for any kind of outcome of the Brexit process, or achieving a firm commitment for the European path of the Western Balkans – is visible and appreciated across Europe. Our presidency has supported convergence and cohesion in Europe, advancing files on topics such as the Digital Single Market, the Gas Directive, or the Banking Union. It has advocated transparent and predictable working conditions and low CO2 emissions. It has acted firmly to counter misinformation and ensure free and fair elections. It has contributed to the goal of a safer Europe by promoting files that improve the security of identity cards or strengthen the border police and coastguard at European level.
But beyond that, the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council has also been a matter of courage, responsibility and political ownership. During the six months it spent presiding over the EU Council, Romania has definitely contributed, through concrete measures, to strengthening the European Union, an endeavour that remains vital to the well-being and security of our continent.
I would like to thank the hundreds of people involved in fulfilling one of the most ambitious programmes undertaken by a Presidency over the past ten years. I am deeply grateful to the diplomats of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs based in Bucharest, Brussels and various capitals around the world, to the experts who have been by our side throughout this project, to the young people in our internship programme, and to all the partners of the Presidency. At the same time, I would like to express my gratitude to their families and thank them for their understanding, shown during this six-month marathon.
At the end of this mandate, I am convinced that Romania has strengthened its profile in Europe, becoming a stronger, more credible, and more relevant voice. I firmly believe that this road will continue after the Presidency, because we have the institutional and political maturity required to successfully carry out any other major national project. 2004: Romania’s accession to NATO; 2007: Romania’s accession to the European Union; 2019: the first rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. These landmarks in our recent history will be complemented by others in the future.
Last but not least, I would like to wish our Finnish colleagues (who, starting on July 1, 2019, will take over from us at the Council table) a successful Presidency, the power to negotiate, resilience and creativity over the next six months. We, Romanians, will return to the Presidency of the EU Council more than a decade from now, hoping to surpass the performance of our first mandate!