Click here for an overview of the headline-grabbing events in Romania this past week
European Commission President visits Romania
Upon his first visit to Romania as president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday addressed Parliament and met the President and the Prime Minister. This year we mark 10 years since Romania joined the EU, the European Commission president said before Parliament. He wants the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism assessing the progress of Romania’s judiciary to be lifted and for Romania to join the Schengen Area both before the country takes over the rotating presidency of the European Council in the first half of 2019. As regards the idea of a multi-speed Europe, Juncker says that the EU treaties contain this scenario, but that there have never been second-tier countries or countries that have been sidelined. The EU official promised to militate against the rolling back of the reforms made so far. During his meeting with the European Commission official, President Klaus Iohannis said that the European Union is about freedom, democracy, peace and prosperity, underlining that Romanians are the most pro-European citizens in the EU. Jean-Claude Juncker also took part in a Q&A session with Romanian citizens on the future of the European Union, alongside the European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu. Juncker pointed out that Bucharest could rely on the Commission’s unconditional support as regards structural funds, although it must cut red tape and simplify proceedings in order to improve its absorption rate.
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy in Bucharest
2017 is a crucial year for Romania in terms of attracting EU funds, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Cretu, said during her official visit to Romania this week. On Monday, she launched the second edition of a campaign aimed at fostering successful European projects. Romania must “fight” for regional policy, Commissioner Cretu warned that Bucharest must persevere and take advantage of the available European funds during the ongoing 2014-2020 budget framework, given it has a zero absorption rate halfway through the aforementioned period. The funds are there, but Romania must come up with quality, mature projects, ready to be implemented, Corina Cretu went on to say. Among some of the challenges Romania is faced with in terms of absorbing European funds, Corina Cretu mentioned the country’s limited administrative capacity and the lack of quality projects and transport infrastructure.
May 9, triple holiday in Romania
On May 9 Romania celebrated three major events in its history: the state independence proclaimed in 1877, the UN coalition Victory Day in World War II and Europe Day. Bucharest played host to religious services honouring Romanian heroes. Representatives of public institutions and war veterans’ associations brought floral tributes to the WWII Heroes’ Monument and at the monument honouring the Romanian War of Independence. Attending these events were also representatives of the Defence Ministry, the Interior Ministry, army officers and war veterans. Similar ceremonies were held in other large cities in Romania. The authorities also celebrated Europe Day as well as 10 years since Romania joined the European Union. President Klaus Iohannis addressed Parliament, arguing on this occasion in favour of consolidating Romania’s position in Europe. Ten years after the country’s EU accession, Romanians are still deeply attached to the values that define the European Union and are determined to carry on the integration process, the President went on to say.
Parliament sets up committee to investigate the presidential election of 2009
Romania’s Parliament has adopted a proposal of the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, currently holding majority in Parliament, to set up a committee to investigate the 2009 presidential election in Romania, won by the then president Traian Basescu. The initiative follows revelations made by journalist Dan Andronic, a former political advisor to several high-ranking officials, including the former president Traian Basescu. Andronic suggests the election process of December 2009 was influenced by important decision-makers, including the heads of some very influential institutions. Following this string of revelations, the Prosecutor General’s office has launched an investigation into the crimes of abuse of office and forgery of election records and documents. The opposition in Parliament has voted against the creation of this parliamentary committee, arguing that its activity might overlap with that of the Prosecutor General’s office.
Romania’s Prime Minister visits Austria
Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu on Tuesday paid an official visit to Vienna, during which he thanked the Austrian authorities for their support for Romania’s bid to join the Schengen Area. After meeting his Romanian counterpart, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said Romania is an important partner from a political, cultural and economic point of view. Sorin Grindeanu also took part in a discussion panel hosted by the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, alongside representatives of Austria’s main investors in Romania. Sorin Grindeanu said Austria is currently one of Romania’s leading economic and trade partners, ranking second in terms of investment, and that Romania is one of the most profitable markets for Austria in Central and Eastern Europe. Two-way trade accounts for more than 1,8 billion euros.