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Priorities of Romania's EU Council Presidency, based on four pillars

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The priorities of Romania's Presidency of the Council of the European Union are organized on four pillars: Europe of convergence, Europe of safety, Europe - global actor and Europe of common values, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said on Wednesday.

She pointed out that the first pillar - Europe of convergence - is based on "growth, cohesion, competitiveness, connectivity".

"Convergence and cohesion to ensure a sustainable and equitable development for all European citizens are essential for promoting a united Europe and for increasing the EU's global competitiveness. These must be milestones of the action at European level, while at the same time reflecting Romania's interests as a EU member state. The decisions on the future of the European policies must reflect in the financing priorities of the Union. As such, the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU will contribute to projecting the next Multiannual Financial Framework post-2020 in view of reaching the targets in the next 7 years so as to ensure the balance between the policies generating growth and convergence in the community space," Dancila said.

According to her, the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU aims to "advance economic, financial and fiscal works in order to stimulate growth and investment and support structural reforms" and to contribute to "the strengthening of the Economic and Monetary Union."

From the same perspective of convergence, she continued, the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council is interested in the social dimension through the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

"We will promote inclusive education towards higher standards of performance. We are interested in ensuring equal opportunities and increasing labor mobility on the domestic market," the prime minister added.

Dancila further argued that another direction is "the promotion of research and innovation" and, first of all, "the digitization and connectivity as key-factors in increasing the competitiveness of the European industry".

"The digitization of the European industry will be a first priority national topic to be promoted at EU level. We will stimulate the diversification of the current industrial base in the EU by promoting digitization and implementing artificial intelligence in industrial processes," she said.

The prime minister specified another priority is connectivity.

"Ensuring real convergence (...) depends directly on making connections of all kinds, especially in less developed areas. Connecting these regions to the rest of Europe in all possible forms through transport, energy or digital networks is one of the most secure and most efficient way of development. Connectivity ensures the functional circulation flows of commodity, natural resources, energy or human resources, essential for economic development," the premier said.

Dancila also referred to the second pillar - "Europe of safety".

"With regard to internal security, we will focus on increasing cooperation and inter-operability at European level between specific national systems and structures. We are mainly interested in protecting citizens, companies and public institutions in the online space and increasing the Union's resilience to cyber attacks. Cybersecurity can no longer be considered as an option, so any project concerning the information society must take into account the cybersecurity component. At the helm of the EU Council, we intend to make a decisive contribution in this area," the premier underlined.

She pointed out that another priority related to the security of the community space is the fight against terrorism. "In this respect, we aim for the operationalization and even extension of the mandate of the European Prosecutor's Office to cover terrorist offenses," Dancila said.

The prime minister also raised another important topic on the European agenda - migration.

"It is an extremely difficult file that has failed to bring together a unitary position of the member states, and we are therefore planning to formulate new solutions that guarantee efficient and sustainable management. We are particularly interested in strengthening the external borders of the EU, including by strengthening the operational capability of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. It is also important in our view to promote cooperation with the countries of origin and transit and I am convinced that the most effective way to address the issue of migration is to combat its deep root causes, the source of this phenomenon," considers Viorica Dancila.

The Prime Minister mentioned that in respect to the pillar regarding Europe as a global actor, the vision of the Romanian Presidency takes into account that the EU's global actions must start from the joint commitments assumed by the Global Strategy for the European Union's Foreign and Security Policy.

"In this respect, we will promote the strengthening of the EU defense and security capabilities in close relation with similar processes within NATO," she added.

A special chapter on the foreign policy of the Union during the presidency of Romania will be dedicated to the Black Sea, which must occupy a central place on the agenda of the European Union, by bringing to the forefront the Black Sea Synergy, included.

Another external priority will be the enlargement of the Union to the Western Balkans aimed at ensuring additional external and internal security. We will focus on developing dialogue and involving the young people in managing issues in the region, and on the EU's strategic communication dedicated to Southeast Europe. Equally, we want coordinated and coherent actions in the neighborhood of the Union, and the 10th anniversary since the launch of the Eastern Partnership will be an important moment in this respect," the prime minister said.

The premier said that the "Europe of common values" is about stimulating European cohesion by continually relating to the common values on which the Union is based.

"Only in this way can we effectively combat racism, intolerance, xenophobia, populism, anti-Semitism and discourage hate speech. Only by doing so can we contribute to ensuring equal treatment for all member states and all European citizens. I also think it is necessary to stimulate the involvement of young people in the shaping of a strong Europe based on common European values," the prime minister also said.

Last but not least, Dancila also referred to the importance of the Sibiu Summit in 2019.

"I strongly believe that 2019 can be a year of the relaunch of the European idea and the extraordinary Summit in Sibiu to be an important moment in this respect. That is why we are working together for this event, which will take place during the Romanian presidency of the Council, to define the new Strategic Agenda of the Union - a document that will guide the Union's actions in the medium term. More than ever, member states need to send a clear signal regarding the ability to carry on together along the same lines, in a strong and united project," the prime minister told Parliament's plenary session.

Prime Minister Dancila also made an appeal towards political peace and consensus after Romania takes over the EU Council presidency in January.

“There is no place for political interests or hubris, I restate my appeal to peace and consensus. We have a national project which imposes this. Regardless of political opinions, please think of the common future,” Dancila said in front of the Parliament’s plenary.

“I ask you to refrain from language or political messages which might affect the image of Romania. Only united we will be more powerful in our pursuits for Romanians to benefit of the same rights as other citizens,” she added.

The chief of cabinet also announced that the Romanian presidency motto will be “Cohesion as a common European value” .

Former president Traian Basescu, senator of the People's Movement Party (PMP, opposition) said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Viorica Dancila's speech in Parliament's plenary sitting on the working program of the Romanian Presidency at the Council of the European Union is correct from the point of view of "Brussels' official language" but which "does not pinpoint any of Romania's priorities".

"A correct speech from the point of view of the Brussels' official language, but it does not pinpoint anything that refers to Romania's priorities. I would ask a question: Mrs Prime Minister did not feel the need to receive a mandate from the Romanian Parliament in view of exercising the Presidency of the EU Council? Has the Prime Minister's speech of today been correlated with the President's point of view? Because the Union will work for six months with a President who goes to the European Council and has views and a Government going to the Council of the European Union and has its views," Basescu said on Wednesday in the plenary sitting of Parliament.

He stressed that he does not want one to rely on the premise that Romania, during the holding of this rotating presidency, is just a "meeting organizer".

"From the Prime Minister's speech I understood that holding the rotating presidency is limited to being a facilitator. Totally wrong. You are a negotiator, you are a facilitator of meetings in Sibiu and Bucharest, if you want, but you have very precise points of view in the Council of the EU. So I would not want us to start from the premise that we are just meeting organizers, but we have the mission to set points of view and to back them and to make alliances in order to achieve the goals we have set. From the meeting today, it is clear that we have not set any objectives. For example, for the Justice and Home Affairs formation, what are the rotating presidency's solutions for limiting migration? We should have heard here. Or which are the rotating presidency's solutions for Romania and Bulgaria to join the Schengen area, or what are the rotating presidency's solutions for diminishing the terrorist risk in the EU?" Basescu mentioned some questions.



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