President of the European Parliament,
Vice- President of the European Commission,
Dear Members of the European Parliament,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a particular pleasure for me to be here today before the newly elected Parliament to present a review of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, review which also contains benchmarks for the common European path that we have ahead of us.
As a former member of this Parliament, I know closely and I appreciate the special role that the European Parliament and you have in the European decision –making process. I would like to congratulate you and wish you every success in fulfilling your mandate.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It was important to demonstrate that the European institutions are working for the citizens, and especially that they attain results that improve their lives and offer prospects for the future.
I have the satisfaction of stating that Romania succeeded in achieving this. We took over and assumed this responsibility as a mission in the service of the citizens and European unity. We deemed it necessary that all our actions be structured around Cohesion – as a common European value.
Romania demonstrated that it can perform successfully against the backdrop of challenges and trends which called into question the Union’s determination to move forward.
We proved Romania’s capacity to contribute to the added value of the European Union as reflected in the substantial activity report we are leaving behind: 90 legislative dossiers concluded and nearly 2,500 events and meetings organized. We also facilitated the adoption of 84 conclusions of the Council of the EU on several topics of common interest.
In carrying out this mandate, we wished to achieve visible and sustainable results that citizens can clearly and easily relate to.
These results confer a veritable identity to our first Presidency, and I think that we can all ascribe this to ourselves.
For instance, I would like to believe that when the European citizens have fairer and more transparent access to the labour market that will provide them a better work-life balance, they will know that these decisions were made during the Romanian presidency.
I would also like to believe that the European citizens will feel safer and better protected within the borders of the European Union due to the efforts of our presidency as well. We managed to take a qualitative leap forward in this direction.
Henceforth, we will be able to carry out checks more effectively at the external borders and improve the security of our ID cards.
We achieved consistent results on all four priority pillars of our presidency: Europe of convergence, a safer Europe, Europe as a global actor, Europe of common values.
Under the pillar entitled Europe of convergence, the Romanian presidency made intensive efforts to advance negotiations on the future Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, both on political and sectoral levels.
We also succeeded to conclude negotiations on a substantial number of legislative dossiers aimed at strengthening the Banking Union and the Capital Markets Union, and we ensured a long –term vision for the Single Market.
Furthermore, the concrete results achieved in areas such as the internal market – in all its dimensions, energy, social affairs or climate change, are elements that will remain landmarks and have already been taken over by our Trio partners, Finland and Croatia.
At the same time, the challenges of the digital era, among which, the artificial intelligence, were also tackled in the first set of Conclusions of the Union dedicated to this topic.
Our presidency made an important contribution to completing the single digital market through the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.
In all our demarches, we aimed to put the citizens’ interests at the core of our vision. Strengthening the social dimension of the Union represented thus a priority, and establishing the European Labor Authority is an example of success.
As regards the Energy Union, we adopted the proposal for amending the (Natural Gas) Directive that will ensure for the first time a unitary and transparent regulatory framework in the field of natural gas interconnections with third states.
We also aimed at fostering reflection on the development of a common long – term vision for climate neutrality. We adopted the first regulations in the field of CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles.
A safer Europe, the second pillar, was the framework within which we worked to increase security at the EU level, taking into account the expectations of our citizens.
We consolidated the mandate of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, and by adopting legislation on interoperability, we sent a clear signal that European-level information systems need to complete each other. This is an excellent example of continued cooperation among the Member States to strengthen internal security and the functionality of the Schengen area, a goal to which Romania wishes to continue to fully contribute.
In the field of migration, we made efforts to advance negotiations on the reform of the European asylum and migration policy. Despite all the persistent disagreements over this issue, we succeeded in advancing negotiations on the Return Directive as well as the discussions on establishing temporary arrangements. We also completed negotiations on the functioning of the European Migration Liaison Officers’ Network.
In order to improve the response to cyber attacks, a framework of sanctions was adopted to respond to cyber-attacks. More specifically, this framework allows the EU for the first time to impose sanctions on persons that are responsible for cyber-attacks which constitute a threat to the EU or its member states.
Romania will continue to work in this respect, pursuing the objective of hosting a European agency specialized in this field.
As far as the external dimension of our activity, as reflected in the pillar Europe – a global actor is concerned, we made sustained efforts to strengthen the profile of an active and effective Union, involved in its neighborhood, and credible, due to honoring its international commitments.
Progress was made in relevant areas, such as the Western Balkans, the Eastern Partnership, the Black Sea region.
Enlargement represents a geostrategic investment in the economic, political and security welfare of the European Union.
In the Western Balkans, we managed in a complex context to preserve the remarkable, even historical developments of last year as well as to maintain the strategic opportunities created for the partners in the region, I refer to Albania and North Macedonia.
Our goals have major relevance for the pillar: Europe of common values. The disinformation phenomenon is of undeniable topicality and that is why we sent the European Council a report on combating disinformation and securing fair European election.
Another major goal of our presidency was combating anti-Semitism, xenophobia, hate speech and all forms of intolerance.
We are confident that our Trio partners will continue all these efforts.
We believe that promoting gender equality and equal opportunities is a major objective that was found in the architecture of the new European institutions, the European Parliament and the European Commission.
We assumed that we will act to strengthen the European project and during our six- month mandate, we demonstrated that the pro-Europeanism needs to be fed through constant action.
I got personally involved, with full dedication, in the optimum unfolding of this presidency, also due to a personal motivation, determined by my deep commitment to the ideal of the European project. I am part of the generation that matured with this aspiration to the fullness of European integration and its recognition for Romania.
I believe that this feeling of recognition of the significance that the European Union has for citizens needs to be constantly cultivated through concrete results. Our project must not promote a multi-speed Europe or a Europe of concentric circles.
Romania will continue to promote the common goal of strengthening the European project and it will at the same time pursue the completion of its integration.
I am referring here, of course, to the full integration of our country into the Schengen Area, within which we are already acting as a de facto member.
We will continue to act, in a pragmatic manner, to promote the Principles of the Sibiu Declaration, and we remain deeply committed to observing the democratic values and the rule of law. It is important, however, that there are no differences between the Member States, divisions that can create different standards for European citizens.
By exercising the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Romania confirmed its full-fledged member status, which shows the legitimacy of our country’s aspiration to end the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.
I strongly continue to believe that our future, of all of us, cannot be imagined otherwise than in a stronger and more cohesive Europe to the benefit of which we worked with enthusiasm, confidence, and professionalism over the past six months.
I hold the firm belief that the efforts of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU represent a consistent basis for continuing to advance the European agenda over the ensuing period and I wish every success to the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. I would like to thank you for your support over these six months, for our good cooperation together and I am sure that the rotating presidency held by Romania over these six months, will be remembered by both Romania and the European Union as a successful presidency. Thank you!