The European People’s Party (EPP) and the group in the European Parliament will stand in full support of whatever measures Prime Minister Ludovic Orban takes regarding Romania’s accession to Schengen and will continue to ask those who are also responsible of solving this matter, such as France and the Netherlands, to give Romanian citizens access to the right of free movement they deserve and for which they sacrificed themselves, is the message conveyed by the EPP Secretary General Antonio López-Istúriz White following the meeting with the head of the Romanian government, on the latter’s third and final day of visit to the European Union institutions.
This statement was made with regard to the support the EPP, the largest political family in Europe, is willing to give to the Romanian leadership in solving one of the most pressing issues on the national agenda thirteen years after the accession to the EU and it comes as part of an interview given to caleaeuropeana.ro.
Insights about the meeting between the EPP Secretary General and the overall positive impression the timely visit to Brussels of the liberal prime minister had made on the heads of the EU institutions and the members of the European Parliament were also given to the caleaeuropeana.ro correspondent in Brussels. Also, talk on the EPP’s expectations from the Romanian government was also made.
Calea Europeană: Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary General, for accepting this interview as you have just finished your meeting with prime minister Ludovic Orban, on his third day of his official visit in Brussels. How was the meeting?
Antonio López-Istúriz White: I think it is a good occasion for a politician like Ludovic Orban, who I have known for several years, to build a profile here in Brussels. He has been received not only as a friend, but also as a trusted representative of Romania by commissioners, the president of the Commission, and in this context I could cite the words of David Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament who said about the visit that ”Ludovic Orban and the new government bring new hope for the relations between Romania and the EU after, unfortunately, the bad episode of last year when the Romanian commissioner-designate did not pass the test which demonstrated that the government at that time was not in line with the EU reality”. Things are changing and I think it is good for Romania to have a government that really is in line with the European institutions. Here in the EPP are very happy about it, we know Ludovic Orban as well as president Klaus Iohannis and I think the couple is going to represent this European approach that Romania so much needs. We cannot escape the difficult moments lying ahead regarding the social and economic relations between Romania and the EU but we have to do our best. Specifically, in the EPP we always have in mind the Romanian diaspora in all the European countries. I am, as a Spaniard, very dedicated to the 1 million of your compatriots living in my country, which is a successful story of integration, and I believe it should continue like this. I hope that the current Spanish government will help with this like the previous governments have done it.
Calea Europeană: Mr. Orban publicly announced the objectives of his visit to the EU institutions at the meeting he had in the EPP Group in the Parliament and among them there were several national and political objectives that still have to be achieved 13 years after becoming members of the EU: accession to Schengen and lifting of the CVM. How can the EPP provide help for the government of the same political colour in Romania, and as well as to president Iohannis, who has just been reinvested for a second mandate? There are a lot of expectations from Romanians towards the EPP and, especially, towards PNL.
Antonio López-Istúriz White: These expectations are in good hands. The EPP has always been vocal and supportive regarding the integration of Romania in the Schengen Area. Everyone in our group, even those from member countries where the accession to Schengen is more problematic, were declared in favour of Romania joining. There are countries where the government is not EPP, such as France, the Netherlands, where we are doing our part of talking to Macron or Rutte on behalf of the Romanian citizens to have the freedom of movement which they deserve and for which they have sacrificed a lot. It is now time for everybody to take responsibility and in the EPP we have done so. This is what Ludovic Orban has been asking in Brussels and the EPP will stand behind in full support of this government as we have been supportive of other governments before, including the social-democrats, when it came to Schengen. We do not do differences about it. So I ask those who also have a responsibility on this, president Macron and prime minister Rutte, to do their part and be vocal because Romania can no longer stay outside Schengen. This is an unacceptable situation that the EPP will fight to change and we will support whatever measures prime minister Orban takes in this sense.
Calea Europeană: In Romania we talk about what Brussels can bring for us, which generally is welfare, but there are also expectations that we must meet. So what expectations has the EPP from prime minister Orban’s government?
Antonio López-Istúriz White: First, the Romanian delegation in the EPP Group is one of the largest and full of active people. The list that was made is outstanding and the professionalism of many of my colleagues form PNL is outstanding. This will be much needed not only for the Romanian government, but also for the citizens. Romania has a lot of influence in the group thanks to the size of this delegation and some of us are very happy about it. Second, it is the question of expectations from you as a country and it is something we ask of every country: never to fall into the trap of populism and negative thinking about the EU. Both Romania and Spain, where I come from, share the support and enthusiasm for the European project because we know it is part of the solution to some of the outstanding problems that we had in the pas for different reasons. We have to perform inside the EU and be an example. Spain started as a weak member of the EU in 1986 and today it is the fourth largest power inside the EU and I think that Romania can as well achieve this but it has to do it with the backing of a serious and responsible government which I believe is now the case.
Antonio López-Istúriz White is a Spanish politician and Member of the European Parliament from Spain. He is a member of the People’s Party, member party of the European People’s Party. He has served as the Secretary General of the European People’s Party since March 2002.
Green Village Resort, the Danube Delta impressive location, opened for tourists under maximum safety measures
Green Village is naturally isolated with access to immense beaches stretched for kilometres, canals where tourists can make a different trip every day, they can fish, walk in nature, watch birds, without meeting any crowds.
„Even in a normal period, tourists felt safe and enjoyed a quiet vacation. Romania is a growing destination for foreign tourists. Although slower than we want, Romania attracts foreigners, who come here with moderate expectations, but return home beyond enchanted by the landscapes, people, and security that our country offers”, said Dragoș Anastasiu, owner of Green Village Resort.
Last year, more than 40% of our tourists were foreigners. They enjoyed mostly excursions on the canals, fishing, birdwatching, going to the beach and short trips to nearby cities such as Sulina and Tulcea.
Romania Remains Attractive As Software Outsourcing Destination in COVID-19 times
Romania is 1ST IN EUROPE and 6TH IN THE WORLD, in terms of number of certified IT specialists. With an estimated 150,000 in 2020, Romania is moving up the diversity spectrum in terms of outsourcing capabilities. The local talent pool has been a main decision factor for evolving from a cost driven approach to a value driven one, Romanian specialists proving to be very resourceful in operating many complex project assignments.
Romania doesn’t offer lowest prices in the outsourcing business, but it is highly competitive when you take into account the level of technical proficiency and soft skills in the country, “superior to what is typically found in other outsourcing locations,” according to IDC.
Romania also benefits from two political factors—its membership in the European Union, and strong institutional support from the government. This includes several tax incentives and breaks, alongside wages that remain highly competitive within the EU (the average minimum wage is the second lowest in the political union). More importantly, membership in the EU comes with more than just financial and security advantages, one example is access to the Horizon 2020 program for Research and Innovation.
As a member state, Romania’s regulations and compliance laws must fall in line with the broader union, meaning that companies have significantly less startup barriers when setting up BPO or ITO offices. Apart from easier setup, this gives companies a much safer framework and infrastructure for financial transactions, as well as access to many of the same financial services and banks available across the West.
We asked one of the local companies what are their thoughts on the Romanian IT sector future and how is the COVID-19 disrupting their business model:
“This highly competitive industry sometimes forces us to ignore the long-term strategy and focus on the quick opportunities. The biggest risk is that we won’t see a lot of Romanian products competitive at global scale any time soon, but definitely in almost every successful project launched today around the World there is at least one Romanian engineer in the team. We give a lot of attention to our Research and Innovation department and we try to keep the right balance between outsourcing and internal products development (chasing our dreams). Regarding the COVID-19 disrupting our business, we just practiced what we preach, we used our entire digital offering on ourselves and we were able to completely switch into remote work during lunch break” says Anamaria POPA, General Manager of Soft Galaxy.
It is not enough for the professionals out there (in institutes, universities, private companies, innovators and entrepreneurs) to press ahead with their work, they need to stand together and promote the Romanian excellence in research and education.
Vasile Blaga, MEP: I am convinced that the firm measures adopted by the EP against Covid-19 will not stop here. The EPP Group is already working on a strategy for the rapid recovery of the post-crisis economy
Vasile Blaga, MEP (PNL, PPE) told caleaeuropeana.ro that the EPP group in the European Parliament is already working on a “very clear strategy” for managing the current crisis generated by the new coronavirus, but also for the rapid recovery of the post-crisis European economy,
The unanimous vote of the European Parliament last week on proposals from the European Commission for the management of the European health crisis shows that the hesitant response at the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic was an accident, explains MEP Vasile Blaga, adding that “the answer came to correct the rather timid initial reaction of the European executive in the beginning of this challenging crisis for Europe and all the other states around the world ”.
The 37 billion euros (part of the Corona Initiative) allocated to the Member States through the vote in the European Parliament will be directed towards health systems, local communities, small and medium-sized enterprises and economy sectors seriously affected by this crisis.
“The European Union means, first and foremost, solidarity – for better and for worse, and those who support the opposite are either not aware of what is being done at EU level, or have an interest in destabilising the Union,” says Blaga.
The vote in the European Parliament was also aimed at reallocating 800 million euros from the Cohesion Fund in 2020 to cover emergencies in the medical systems of the EU member state
“I am convinced that the measures will not stop here. The EPP group is already working on a very clear strategy for managing the current crisis, but also for the rapid recovery of the economy once the public health crisis is over. There are countless proposals and projects in progress that will help us all overcome this unprecedented crisis in recent history,” adds Vasile Blaga.
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