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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: We cannot achieve the green economy goal without gas and nuclear energy as transitional fuels

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© Vasile Blaga / Facebook

MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) argues that the goal of a green economy cannot be achieved without gas and nuclear energy as transition fuels. He also said it isimportant for Romania to support the European Commission’s proposal to include gas and nuclear energy on the list of transitional fuels.

According to the MEP, Romania, both through the voice of President Iohannis and Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă, has taken a position in favour of the European Commission’s proposal to include gas and nuclear energy on the list of transitional fuels.

“The context of the war in Ukraine, however, has given rise to voices in the European Parliament but also in other quarters who argue that the inclusion of gas in the delegated act would directly support Russia and its gas exports,” he added.

“It is an interpretation that creates a causal chain between two elements that are only circumstantially connected. The fact that gas is still considered a transition fuel to green energy does not mean that there is no gas other than that imported from Russia. Basically, the conflict in Ukraine is being used as an opportunity to reject a balanced and moderate vision of the transition to green energy”, said the Romanian MEP for www.caleaeuropeana.ro.

“Some colleagues who already had a position contrary to that of the Commission saw the conflict in Ukraine as an opportunity to argue. It is categorically false. We cannot achieve the goal of a green economy without gas and nuclear energy as transitional fuels. In any case, it is in Romania’s direct interest to support the European Commission’s proposal”, concluded MEP Vasile Blaga.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: Ukraine and Moldova will be part of the European family

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© Vasile Blaga/Facebook

MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) welcomes the fact that the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine have obtained the status of candidate states: “It represents the certainty that both will be members of the European Union, a huge step for the two candidate states, but also for the European Union.”

According to the MEP, the vote in the European Parliament and the decision in the Council say one thing: “the decisions are not symbolic gestures of consolation but certify that Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova will be part of the European family.”

He draws attention to the pro-Russian rhetoric that downplays the impact of these decisions: “To those who promote these ideas we say simply: the road of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova is a one-way street. At the end of the road lies integration into the European Union. It is, of course, a road that will require sustained efforts on the part of both candidate countries, but also on the part of the EU institutions.”

“Romania has used all institutional means to ensure that the Republic of Moldova is not decoupled from Ukraine in this decision. It was vital that the two states were granted the status of candidates for EU membership as a package. This is an extraordinary outcome that is well worth mentioning”, he added.

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MEP Vasile Blaga supports a fair green transition for Romania: Gas and nuclear energy must be considered transitory

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© Vasile Blaga / Facebook

MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) reaffirms his support for a fair green transition for Romania, in which gas and nuclear energy are accepted in order to achieve the objectives set by the European Ecological Pact.

The European Parliament hosted yesterday, 30 May, a public hearing whose guests were several experts who debated, together with members of the two committees ECON and ENVI, the inclusion of gas and nuclear energy in the taxonomy of the European Union. Many of the opinions expressed push the debate towards a rejection of the European Commission’s proposal of March whereby nuclear energy and gas are considered, under certain conditions, green.

I reaffirm my support for the version proposed by the European Commission. There are many reasons why gas and nuclear energy should be considered transitional in order to achieve the objectives set by the European Green Pact. One of the reasons, and perhaps the most important one, relates to the realities on the ground in each Member State. France has a significant share of nuclear power, just as Germany is heavily dependent on gas. The decisions that the European Union needs to implement in order to achieve the objectives – already set and agreed by all Member States – need to be balanced first and foremost”, EPP MEP Vasile Blaga told European Way.

“Countries like Romania or Poland need a realistic transition towards the targets set by the Green Pact. Cohesion and solidarity in the European Union means that each Member State must take into account the other and, as a whole, decisions must not ignore any reality, be it further West or further East”, added the EPP MEP.

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