The permanent Representative of Romania to the European Union, Luminiţa Odobescu, presented the priorities of her country’s turn in the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union, saying the Romanian presidency will focus of four key points of reference in the coming months – a transition to a new institutional cycle, Brexit, an upcoming summit if EU leaders in the Romanian city of Sibiu, and the May 2019 European elections.
A future-oriented Presidency
With the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU just over two months away, negotiations on the EU’s multi-annual budget remain ongoing under the legislative framework spelt out by the European Parliament.
“Being aware of this framework and its responsibilities, the Romanian Presidency will pursue a stronger, more united and more coherent Europe, symbolically driven by the slogan “Cohesion – a common European value”. The priorities are structured under four pillars of action: (1) A convergence Europe, (2) A safer Europe, (3) Europe, as a stronger global actor, (4) A Europe of common values,” said Odobescu, before adding that the Romanian Presidency will aim to bring a contribution to ensuring the sort of convergence and cohesion in Europe that will “achieve sustainable and equal development opportunities by increasing competitiveness and reducing development gaps”.
Her comments come only days after Romania assumed the top job on the Council amid awhirlwindg of controversy after European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker harshly criticised Bucharest and its ability to lead after a series of scandals have dogged the current government for months.
Despite the lack of support from Brussels’ top brass, the Romanian presidency hopes to deepen support for the Economic and Monetary Union, as well as structural reforms that will enhance Europe’s security through a more streamlined cohesion policy that will include better internal security and better cooperation between the EU’s members by increasing the interoperability of the bloc’s security systems.
The ongoing problem of illegal migration into Europe will also take centre-stage during the Romanian presidency as it hopes to facilitate a consensus within the bloc about how to move forward with a sustainable EU-wide migration and asylum policy.
With its traditional close ally, the United States, taking a “go-it-alone” approach to world affairs under the mercurial temperament of isolationist President Donald J. Trump, Romania hopes to highlight the EU’s ability to act on its own as a vital player when it comes to foreign policy. “Promoting multilateralism will be a guiding principle in our efforts,” says Odobescu, adding “all EU policies and action must be based on European values and principles as provided for in the treaties”.
Odobescu also said the Romanian presidency will promote initiatives aimed at strengthening democratic norms that promote solidarity and social justice while combating racism, intolerance, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and populism.