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INTERVIEW| Antonio López-Istúriz, EPP Secretary General: Romania, electorally speaking, is a key country that could balance majorities in the European Parliament

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Romania is a key country that could balance political majorities in the European Parliament, EPP Secretary General Antonio López-Istúriz said in an interview for Calea Europeană. Asked on the EPP plans for the upcoming European elections, Lopez underlined the importance of talking to citizens about major issues in a „simplified language”.

„We speak about things that are affecting them (n.r. the citizens) today, questions like immigration, security, jobs and economy, things that everybody is thinking about. So instead of speaking about complicated European treaties or laws, we want to simplify the language, make it more adaptable to the social reality nowadays, that we become defenders of the European Union in a language that is understood by everybody, that is the principle aim of EPP”, Lopez said.

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Asked on who is their main political competitor, Lopez said that he considers it to be „his duty” to explain to people that choose to vote for populists that they only ask questions, without offering answers to the citizens. The biggest threat is „ourselves, if we are not capable of translating to our voters what are the good things about the EU”.

„I am not a politician that considers that I have enemies around; even people that vote for the populist parties or have extreme options, I don’t consider them enemies or guilty. My duty is to convince them to vote again, for our options which are the most reasonable, which want to work for the European project. It is very easy to be on the populistic side for politicians, but not for people who are voting for them because they are searching for answers to beat questions. We have to be capable to regain them because they have gone through very difficult situations, especially people that have been left without jobs or that have suffered for many reasons. We have to be capable to regain them to the European Union”, Lopez said.

„I think in the end, Brexit will be a setback for the populists”

„Time will say if this was a big victory. I want to see the real effect, next year, of Brexit, on the UK. I think that is going to be tougher than they expect and now that they are realising it, many of them, many Brexiteers resigned from their positions after the referendum, scared because they knew perfectly well what are the bad consequences of leaving the European Union for the UK. I think, in the end, it will be a setback for the populists”, said the EPP official on Brexit.

„It’s always the same: populists create the problem and then it’s up to us to find the solutions”

The MEP criticised the politicians that pleaded for Brexit, saying that the populists later ran when facing the consequences of their actions, leaving the problems to the European institutions. 

„So it’s always the same: populists create the problem and then it’s us to find the solutions. Where are the solutions from the populists? Where are the solutions of Boris Johnson for the situation created? no, he quitted. He ran away – these are the populists’ solutions. When they are confronted with the reality, they leave. When they want to criticize, they are first. It is very easy in politics to criticize, I can do it tomorrow morning, and we have to be auto critical with the European Union institutions, of course we are in a continuing reform process and we have to do so. It is not a perfect system, but you have to do the fight from inside, not the outside. The least brave thing to do is to go outside, the brave thing is to stay inside and try to change things for the better security of our people”, Secretary General said.

„Brexit is going to happen”, but it is early, at this point, to say what kind of influence it will have on the European elections Lopez said.

„We’ll see afterwards what are the consequences, very bad ones for the United Kingdom. My worry is 400.000 Romanians living in the UK and working there, that is my worry now, and the 300.000 Spanish, also. This is what I have to worry about, the rest is for them. They are leaving? Ok, goodbye, it’s us 27 that we have to worry about and our citizens also living there”, EPP official added. 

„800 delegates from all around Europe will elect the EPP candidate for President of the European Commission”

„Both candidates are great, the deadline is still open so I can not tell you if this is a close list”, Lopez said, adding that the deadline „it is on the 17th of October, next week at noon”. „Meanwhile, these two officials have presented their candidatures – Manfred Weber and Alex Stubb. And they both have fantastic curriculums, very well known European national and also local politicians in their countries and in the regions which both of them have great postures in campaigning in Europe and it is the Congress. 800 delegates from all around Europe, from our member parties, in the case of Romania from PNL, that will decide at the end who will be our candidate for becoming the next president of the European Commission if the EPP has a good score during the European elections.

„That promise will be accomplished”, Lopez said, asked on a statement from the EPP regarding a future presence of the EPP’s lead candidate (Spitzenkandidat) in Romania, during our presidency of the Council of the European Union. Romania is a fundamental country and our PNL party for us, here in Brussels. So it is going to be, I am sure, a presence of the candidate in Romania during the campaign. (…) Romania, electorally speaking, is a key country that could balance majorities or not in the European Parliament and we are taking very seriously our roles, our friends”.

„Who best to speak about Europe than mayors, local counselors, regional ministers or politicians? Or members of the European Parliament. Because the are hundreds of political positions and on local and regional they have direct contact with the citizens everyday. It is better that they speak about Europe and explain Europe much better than I can do it. Because I am a European politician (…) And I believe that people who speak the same language and have the same culture have to translate the European ideals to the people. And I am very respectful of that, that is why I believe in the principle of subsidiarity which means that local politicians are the ones doing this job for the European Union.”, Lopez said regarding the EPP Local Dialogue Series. 

 

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MEP Vasile Blaga welcomes the European Commission’s plan for post-pandemic economic recovery: Romania on the 6th place in Union in budget size

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MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) welcomes the European Commission’s 750 billion euro plan for post-pandemic economic recovery: “The level of sums allocated to Romania for economic recovery shows that our place in the EU has strengthened. We are on the 6th place in the union in the size of the recovery budget after the COVID-19 crisis ”.

According to the MEP, this amount of 740 billion euros is “welcome for the recovery of the economies affected by the pandemic crisis.”

“The allocation of 750 billion EUR  is a good signal that proves that European solidarity is not just a word in the wind that feeds the chorus of Eurosceptics. We also welcome the allocation to Romania of over 30 billion euros for economic recovery, an amount that puts us in sixth place in the top of budgets allocated post-pandemic “, he added.

Vasile Blaga emphasizes that out of the total of 750 billion EUR, 33 billion euros are allocated to Romania, approximately 19 billion EUR represent non-reimbursable grants: “In the next stage it is extremely important to develop the programs that make this budget an engine of the relaunch of the Romanian economy. There are major problems in the sectors that were automatically closed during the emergency and alert period – here we must work with priority “, the MEP noted.

For Romania to have a balanced reconstruction of the economy, Vasile Blaga claims that “the money must be spent in full.”

“Romania has the chance to restart large sectors – such as infrastructure – which may themselves be the spearheads to pull the economy in the coming years,” he said.

At the same time, Vasile Blaga hopes that the plan proposed by the European Commission will be accepted, even if there are different opinions among the 27 states of the Union regarding this ambitious economic recovery plan: “I bet, however, on a unanimous political agreement, which follows to be initialed at the next European summit, which will most likely t

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Green Village Resort, the Danube Delta impressive location, opened for tourists under maximum safety measures

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© Anca Duse
Green Village Resort opened its gates on May 15th, in maximum safety for its guests, according to an official announcement on the resort’s Facebook page.
The Danube Delta, which most of it lies within Romania, is one of the continent’s most valuable habitats for wetland wildlife and biodiversity. It is a unique ecosystem in Europe and consists of a labyrinthine network of river channels, shallow bays and hundreds of lakes.
Green Village is a stranded location, divided into 3 accommodation areas, located at a great distance from each other, and the access to the rooms is made from outside, without having to go through common halls. Thus, social distancing is ensured by the hotel’s pavilion-type concept and the surface of over 30.000 m² .
Hygiene procedures are strict and strictly observed, both for guests and hotel staff. Dispensers with disinfectant solutions have been installed at all public entrances, and the cleaning of public spaces and their contact surfaces (handles, support bars, etc.) will be performed with a much higher frequency, using professional disinfectants.
As for the Express Check-In procedure, it has been modified so that the interaction with staff or other guests on the spot is reduced as much as possible.
Also, transport by boat will be carried out in accordance with the rules in force, and the serving of meals and drinks will be carried out according to the provisions of the authorities, in the room, on the terraces of the houses, or on the balconies of the rooms.
Last but not least, Green Village Resort assures future guests that the service staff is and will continue to be thoroughly trained in cleaning and disinfection procedures.

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.

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Romania Remains Attractive As Software Outsourcing Destination in COVID-19 times

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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.

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