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EPP Secretary General Antonio López-Istúriz: 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

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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.

Alexandra Loy este redactor și specialistă în afaceri europene. Deține un doctorat în domeniul științe politice, dobândit în anul 2018, cu tema analizării impactului președinției României la Consiliul Uniunii Europene asupra sistemului național de coordonare a afacerilor europene. Alexandra este membru al comunității academice din cadrul Școlii Naționale de Studii Politice și Administrative.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: EU must create solid programs in order to rebuild the labor market

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MEP Vasile Blaga, a member of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, stresses that the European Union must create solid programs for consolidating and rebuilding the labor market after the COVID-19 period.

“Economic data for the second quarter of 2020 show a worrying decline in the labor market across the European Union. In Romania, the number of closed employment contracts has increased alarmingly – we are approaching one million closed employment contracts, and the number of closed contracts on 15 July is double compared to 1st June 2020. The most affected sectors are manufacturing and it is possible that in the next period we will see a massive increase in contracts in the hospital industry, still affected by the restrictions generated by the pandemic “, said the MEP for Calea Europeană media platform.

According to the Liberal MEP, protecting jobs must be the number one priority for the European Union.

“It is clear that the European Union must be massively concerned with protecting existing jobs and financially stimulating the creation of new ones ”, he added.

Private sector employment must also be a priority for the European Commission: “Direct funding through various forms of private sector employment must be a priority for the Commission in the next period, complemented by the stimulation of sectors severely affected by pandemic – the hospitality industry and the arts and entertainment sector are a priority in this regard “, said the EPP MEP Vasile Blaga.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: The European Parliament was divided between East and West in the vote for the Mobility Package

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MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) points out that the European Parliament was divided between East and West in the vote for the Mobility Package during the week’s plenary session and criticizes protectionism in a market declared “free”.

“The East lost the vote even if, this time, the ideological separations were erased and it voted in corpore for the defense of the rights of the eastern carriers. All amendments tabled to address some of the discriminatory provisions contained in the legislative proposal have been rejected. Anyone with common sense understands that thousands of trucks that drive even empty every eight weeks to the country where they are registered are a major source of pollution, a substantial addition to traffic, and an aberrant waste of resources. Some provisions appear to be dedicated to Eastern carriers, which do nothing but operate fairly and honestly in a freely competitive market. In essence, protectionism is practiced in a market declared free “, the MEP said in a press release.

The Liberal MEP hopes that the analysis of the European Executive will turn the whole process upside down: “There is still hope that the European Executive will show the truth in the impact analysis it has to carry out by the end of the year “, added Vasile Blaga.

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EC Communication chief warns: Disinformation is a real threat to public health during COVID-19 crisis

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Disinformation has presented itself as a real threat to public health during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, the head of the DG Communication of the European Commission, said on Wednesday.

During the conference “Communicating Europe: corona, recovery and beyond”  the director of CaleaEuropeană.ro platform, Dan Cărbunaru, asked the Director-General of DG Communication of the European Executive, regarding the European Union instruments used in the hybrid warfare, but also how the European Commission intends to act through its expertise against misinformation and to protect the citizens against fears.

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, as Director-General DG Communication, explained to CaleaEuropeană.ro the steps that the European executive has taken, in order to take effective measures against disinformation and mitigate the real threat to public health.

 

Dan Cărbunaru: ”As you finished your presentation, initially, talking about misinformation, I would like to ask you something about it, because each crisis that hit Europe was treated as an opportunity usually to develop new tools for providing an increased European approach in solving European citizens problems. And in the last years, we saw the pressure, we felt the pressure heavily put by the propaganda and the tools of hybrid war. And my question for you is, as we know that we have some tools; EU is stuck on the task force, for instance, do you intend does the Commission intend to protect the public’s fears, using this expertise, this kind of expertise already, let’s say tested in combat, and which is on the European Union, the major risk identified so far in terms of hybrid war in Europe.”

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen: Thank you very much for this very important question.

”Of course indeed as you also stressed there are several actors in this at the institutional level in the European Union. You are right,  that it’s absolutely something that has grown very rapidly since the beginning of the crisis, and it has continued to spread, as we saw the crisis the coronavirus crisis, playout and indeed, it has been playing very much on people’s fears, in relation to this particular crisis and, and the increased use of social media. And it has, in the context of the coronavirus crisis, it has really even presented a real threat to public health, as well as, indeed, and that’s not new. Those who have propagated this information have taken advantage of the situation to sometimes push political agendas. As far as the action that we have been taken. We have definitely reverted also in this crisis many myths, a lot of misinformation because there’s misinformation and then there’s disinformation this deliberate malign attempt to manipulate opinion and information, but I mentioned, everything that has been circulating about the health aspects of the disease, of course, or the, the disease itself or the treatments or the vaccines I referred to it already, as well as also. And there are, indeed, some foreign actors have come in as well. When it comes to the perceived lack of EU response or perceived lack of solidarity.

Our president was very conscious of this from an early moment and asked us to have as part of this website that she asked us to create, to communicate what Europe is doing to fight the coronavirus crisis. She also asked us to have a disinformation section there.

So that we actually in all languages, and in a format that makes it very easy also to share these stories setting the record straight if you like on social media.

This is one part of the, of the strategy, it is of course to provide the stories, and the facts in a very accessible way also when it comes to the crisis but in a broader frame when it comes to dealing with this information it’s also about informing and educating the public about this disinformation itself, how it works as a phenomenon, and indeed the danger that it poses in this case both to public health, and to democracy, and this is something that this commission is also very concerned about, you will have heard our vice president Jurova also in addition to the president herself and other members of the college have been very strongly voicing their concern in this area. So, communicating actually very actively and regularly, about how you actually identify disinformation, and how a typical online user can protect himself from disinformation is also part of the response. So, without having the time to go into all the details, a very multifaceted approach is needed. Also involving working with platforms as we do and we have done for some time now, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and since this month, also Tick Tock on developing standards to maintain the online information environment clean from harmful misinformation and disinformation.

And then we have our code of practice which is actually the first of its kind of a self-regulatory effort in this area which is definitely called upon to grow even more important and ambitious as we as we go along, and we will see to which extent, it needs to be complemented with with with regulation.

We also need to fund, and that’s what we’re doing, we’re funding researchers and civil society organizations that are dedicated to studying also the phenomenon of disinformation and to finding solutions and, and fact-checking is also very independent fact-checking of course it’s not something we do, but we support it, as well as developing new technologies we will also be able to be helped by artificial intelligence in this respect, definitely. And therefore, and then also protecting elections and public information to do this.

You refer to the EEAS and it’s true that the EEAS has played a truly a crucial role in fighting disinformation as a foreign policy threat, you refer to that and that has expanded to now, including more teams that are focusing on different regions outside the EU, where this information might originate, and you will find in relation to the corona crisis, which quite comprehensive information on where we are stepping up the action, and this includes also doing more on social media in the debate and the Member States.

On the 10th of June when we published a document on how we intend to step up the action and learn the lessons, from the coronavirus crisis when it comes to disinformation. But by the end of the day, it’s also about building trust in institutions having a strong communications environment, and this support to independent media that I mentioned, in addition to because it happens, it starts with ourselves and how do we actually explain things that we know to our friends and families and how do we think about sharing social media posts that we see, this is something that all of us have to pay very much attention to. So, checking your sources and thinking before sharing I think is also the part of the reflex that everyone needs to embrace so promoting that is very important as well.”


OpenEUDebate is a Jean Monnet network of academic institutions (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain; the National University of Political and Administrative Studies – SNSPA, Romania; Institut d’études européennes de l’Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; The Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium and Agenda Pública, Spain.
”We intend to create a self-sustainable network of experts of varying degrees of seniority working as mediators with national communities of beneficiaries and users that will influence the public debate. The OpenEUdebate community will address two types of fragmentation: between the local-national and the European public sphere, and between specialized knowledge and public debate.”
OpenEUDebate ”will be an accessible and inclusive community where issues are debated critically with a wide range of views. It will “translate” expert knowledge (about contents and procedures) into relevant information for public debate; it will explain the terms of its politicization (above partisan lines); and will enhance the level of public deliberation about it.”
Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen sits at the meeting point of EU communications and policy. She has been Director-General of DG Communication (COMM) since March 2019 and has been overseeing the communication around the European Commission’s response to the coronavirus crisis. Previous roles have included Deputy Secretary-General of the European Commission and Chief Spokesperson of the European Commission. She holds a Master of Science in International Business Administration and Modern Languages, Copenhagen Business School, with a dissertation on European Identity.

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