Discursul ministrului afacerilor externe Bogdan Aurescu în cadrul Conferinței de lansare a președinției croate a Consiliului Uniunii Europene

Bogdan Aurescu, ministrul afacerilor externe
Conferința de lansare a președinției croate a Consiliului Uniunii Europene
București, sediul Reprezentanței Comisiei Europene în România

Madame Ambassador, Madame Advisor, Your Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to participate today at this launching event of the Croatian Presidency of the EU Council, in Bucharest. On behalf of the Romanian Government, of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and on my own behalf let me, wish you the best of luck during your mandate and I would really like to welcome your Euro-optimism, which is a very good sign in the current European context. I would also like to thank the Finnish Presidency for the work done in the second Semester of last year. I also thank the Representation of the European Commission in Romania for hosting us today.

Your Presidency, Madam Ambassador, is closing our common Trio of Presidencies - Romania-Finland-Croatia, based on a joint 18 months programme. Your Presidency will also complete the current rotation cycle at the EU Council Presidencies, as set after the EU accessions of 2004, 2007, 2013. We have worked very closely in the past few years in order to coordinate and agree on a set of common priorities. In this way, we tried to bring direct and active contribution to the development the European project.

I would like to ask you to continue to count on Romania’s full support to advance the European agenda, during your Presidency. The motto chosen by your Presidency is also very inspiring and indicative of the important need to work together in order to address the common challenges that we are facing today. A “stronger and united European Union, in a world of challenges”, is indeed a pre-requisite for a very successful demarche and for achieving concrete results for all Europeans in the years to come.

We need to act in key fields of direct relevance for the European citizens and for the whole European Union. During the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, we have agreed on a solid strategic framework at European level, which was set by the Sibiu Summit Declaration and the EU Strategic Agenda 2019-2024. Now, we have to put it into practice, through convergent actions – via the working programs of this Presidency of Croatia, but also of the subsequent presidencies of the Council and through the future working program of the European Commission. 

We are at the beginning of a new institutional and legislative cycle and we have important ongoing dossiers that you have mentioned, those overarching priorities that you have highlighted: the negotiations on the multiannual financial framework, the future relations between EU and UK, the advancement of the enlargement process, the new climate framework, the digital evolutions. These are just a few important issues to mention. It is a very complex and a very dynamic enrolment at EU level that requires, more than ever, a very close cooperation among the Member States.

The topics that we have now on the European agenda will definitely have an impact on the future of the European Union at least for this decade. We are about to decide on the money that will finance EU’s actions for the next 7 years; we will start to negotiate with the UK on our future relations, after the forthcoming, but regretted – Brexit; we will have to take ambitious decisions on enlargement; we will have to ensure economic growth and deepen the EU’s internal market.

Let me point out to several issues of particular interest for Romania in the following months:

Building on its own achievements as EU Council Presidency, Romania will continue to support the efforts aimed at consolidating the European project and deepening the European integration process. We need to act for a stronger, more united, cohesive and inclusive Union, closer to its citizens. That is why the accent that you, Madam Ambassador, have put on the Conference on the Future of Europe is very important because this is set to begin during your Presidency and Romania will take active part at this conference aiming at bringing all actors together, in order to shape this common vision for the future of the Union.   

The Multiannual Financial Framework is also a very challenging, yet important file and I would like to assure you of our constructive approach on this dossier, but, at the same time, we need a constructive approach from all Member States. Concluding the negotiations on this file is a matter of priority, since we should be able to ensure an adequate transition between the two programming periods and, thus, ensuring the continuity in the implementation of the EU objectives for the next seven years. From our perspective, it would be important to ensure that the next EU budget provides for a balanced solution, allowing proper financial support in order to advance the convergence process, mainly with the support of the Treaty based policies – the Cohesion Policy and the Common Agriculture Policy, while accommodating the new priorities and challenges that we face at the EU level.

The Cohesion Policy and the Common Agriculture Policy should maintain their major role and should continue bringing their valuable contribution towards growth and reaching real convergence throughout the European Union and thus improving the day-to-day life of EU citizens. We are all beneficiaries of the added value brought at EU level by these two policies.

Regretfully, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. We will have to shift our efforts to implementing the Withdrawal Agreement in all its dimensions, notably in the field of citizens` rights, a major priority for Romania. At the same time, we have to be ready to start intensive discussions with the UK in order to have an ambitious, comprehensive EU-UK relationship, which should reflect our strong ties built throughout the years and we should be able to identify new ways of working together as closely as possible.

We believe that our future partnership should cover a wide range of fields, based on our convergent interests (trade, defense and security, education, research, mobility). During these negotiations, we will pay special attention to respecting the principles of full reciprocity and non-discrimination, as well as ensuring an equal treatment for all EU27 citizens, including for Romanian citizens.

With regard to the recent proposals of the Commission on the European Green Deal, this will entail significant changes in the future. This will shape the implementation of many sectoral policies. That is why we need to ensure a fair and socially just shift, both at EU and national levels. The Member States alone cannot support the transition process. We need to ensure, at EU level, a flexible framework, adequate measures and mechanisms for a swift, cost-effective and just transition.

You mentioned a very important pillar of your priorities: an influential Europe. Indeed, if we speak about an influential Europe this starts in our neighborhood.  That is why the focus put by the Croatian EU Presidency on the enlargement process is very much welcome. This is in line with the priorities of our Trio Programme. We do believe that a credible enlargement process of the European Union is extremely important and a strategic investment in the stability, security and prosperity not only of the candidate states, but also of the whole continent.

We should reach important decisions on opening accession negotiations with Albania and the R. of North Macedonia, without delay or additional pre-conditions. This should be done before the EU-Western Balkans Summit, which will take place on the 7th of May 2020, in Zagreb.

We are open to discuss about how to make the enlargement methodology more efficient, but this should not block or delay the process of accession, which has already started. We are ready to support your work in this regard.

We need a more determined and visible action of the EU when it comes to its European Neighbourhood Policy. If we want EU’s action to be credible, we need to keep up our level of involvement and respect our commitments towards the partners in the region. We need a more strategic and coherent agenda post 2020. We should work together to have a fresh strategic political vision at the next Eastern Partnership Summit (June 2020) that would include adequate technical and financial resources for advancing the European modernisation of the region.

We need better coordination and unity in the EU on the Republic of Moldova. I reiterate Romania’s position: the European path is the only and safest way towards the profound reform of the institutions and which can bring tangible results to the citizens. Romania will continue to support those projects with a direct impact on the citizens and their European expectations – local projects and the interconnection projects. Our approach should be based on several aspects: consistent monitoring of the DCFTA implementation and of the respect for democratic principles and rule of law; developing targeted programs in support of civil society; reaching out to citizens; a comprehensive communication strategy.

On the external agenda, I would also like to welcome the importance attached by the Croatian Presidency to the Transatlantic relation. A solid EU - US relation is indispensable and mutually beneficial for the security and prosperity of both sides of the Atlantic. We fully support this objective.

Last, but not least, in the context of Croatia holding also the Presidency of the EU Strategy for the Danube region, between 1st November 2019 and 1st November this year, Romania welcomes the objective of the Croatian Presidency to use all the potential of the macro-regional strategies. We have also had the same position, during our EU Presidency, holding at the same time the Presidency of the Danube Strategy. We would like to encourage you, and support your actions, in order to ensure increased synergies between the macro-regional strategies and the EU Cohesion Policy. The EU Strategy for the Danube Region represents a very good format of collaboration for the regional development and we need to use the potential of this Strategy, especially in the framework of the next multi-annual financial framework. In this respect, finalizing ongoing projects in this area, as well as developing new projects, will clearly bring benefits for the citizens in the region. In this way, indeed, Europe develops and connects.

The same goes for the Three Seas Initiative; I encourage our Croatian colleagues, which are cofounders of this very important regional format, to promote actively in the EU the objectives of the Three Seas Initiative because this is also about promoting interconnectivity and convergence.

Connectivity, in general, is a well-acknowledged and fully supported priority for both our countries. From Romania’s point of view, this priority is essential for the functioning of the European Single Market and its fundamental freedoms, as it ensures a high degree of inter-connectivity and has tangible economic and social results for the citizens.

I trust that the mandate of the Croatian Presidency will be a fruitful one and that substantial progress will be made on the key topics on our European agenda. Once again, I would like to assure you of our commitment to work together in the coming months. Thank you for your attention and best of luck!