Romanian EU Council Presidency: Presenting a united front
The Romanian EU Council Presidency comes at a time of multiple challenges for Europe, writes Claudia Ţapardel.
Claudia Ţapardel | Photo Credit: European Parliament Audiovisual
This year marks an extraordinary moment for Romania, as it takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the very first time.
Romania joined the EU in 2007 and has seen tremendous progress in terms of growth, economic development and increased living standards. Most importantly, Romania has become an important partner within the Union, proving its solidarity in its principles of unity and cohesion. It remains pro-European and is ready to strengthen its commitment to the European project.
This year also marks a turning point for Europe. The Romanian Presidency comes at a very complex and dynamic moment, characterised by multiple uncertainties. However, new opportunities will shape its future, from the exit of the UK through to European Parliament elections, bringing a new horizon for Europe’s future. We embrace that responsibility.
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My firm belief is that in the face of these challenges, the solution is not offered by the Eurosceptic, populist and extremist approaches increasingly spreading across the EU. I strongly believe that it is vital we respond in turn with a greater solidarity and unity. The configuration of the Parliament and Commission legislature, alongside the transition to a new institutional cycle following the European elections, and not least the negotiation process of the future Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, are essential factors that we need to focus upon.
At the same time, we must not forget the traditional challenges; the common agricultural policy, cohesion policy, migration, asylum policy, terrorism and security, all of which remain high on the EU agenda. Our solidarity and unity demonstrate that we, as Europeans, stand above political rhetoric. Our duty is to ensure greater collaboration, cooperation and standing united.
Thus, Europe’s values as a promoter and defender of freedom, human rights and equality will prevail. For precisely this reason, I call on the other member states to show their fellow partners across Europe that they stand by the same principles. In this sense, Romania expects 2019 to be the year that it becomes a full member of the Schengen area. It has fulfilled the technical conditions for more than seven years, and it is natural that Romania starts being treated as an equal member and strong EU partner.
In terms of my own parliamentary activities, I would like to see progress in overcoming the infrastructure and development differences that currently exist between the western and central and eastern parts of Europe. It is our duty to create cohesion and to develop and promote the high value and potential of common European interests.
"Our solidarity and unity demonstrate that we, as Europeans, stand above political rhetoric. Our duty is to ensure greater collaboration, cooperation and standing united"
Increasing and improving connectivity between the western part of the EU and peripheral member states is the key driver for Europe’s economy. This would increase trade within the Union, improve tourism opportunities and sustain a stronger and more flexible workforce, whilst promoting higher investments.
In my capacity as co-chair of the Intergroup for the Development of European Tourism in the European Parliament, I have been promoting and supporting the tourism industry, a vital sector of the European economy, accounting for of 10 percent of its GDP. Europe has maintained its position as the number one tourist destination and I believe we should capitalise on that.
Tourism brings together many diverse industries, from aviation, road transportation, to hospitality and the entertainment industry, generating economic growth and new jobs. As a social democrat, I fully encourage establishing small and medium sized enterprises; this helps reduce unemployment by creating new jobs. At the same time, it brings higher quality of services by stimulating competition on the market.
Digitisation is already embedded in our lives, our society and in all sectors of the economy. In practical terms, I believe we need a concrete solution to improve European connectivity, with greater support from all European institutions to those member states that need it. This includes funding for regional development, knowledge transfer through relevant technical expertise and member states helping meet the required criteria to access funding instruments.
The future is undoubtedly digital, but the challenges of integrating actors into the market and ensuring fair competition remain. The Romanian Presidency is set on advancing the Digital Single Market by finalising the negotiations on the first legislative instrument that will regulate the online economy. This will mark an important step in completing the DSM.
I am very proud of my country and I truly believe that the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union will be a great success.
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