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MEP Ramona Mănescu (EPP): Making Romania a special case in the context of the Council Presidency undermines our chance to be on an equal footing with others

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MEP Ramona Manescu (EPP) speaks in a post on the personal internet page about the opportunities and challenges that Romania faces during the exercise of its first rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, focusing in particular on the diplomatic capacity and administrative capacity of our country to redefine its image and increase the prestige at European level during this unique moment.

When discussing the opportunities presented by the Presidency of the Council, Ramona Manescu refers to the fact that Romania can demonstrate regional expertise on a number of key issues for EU unity and security, such as the fight against cybercrime, combating disinformation and fake news threatening the European elections in May which, as the Romanian experts have warned many times, are part of the hybrid war that originated in Eastern Europe, ensuring stability in the Black Sea region, both militarily and economically, and last but not least, energy security. Indeed, a successful presidency means a mandate whose balance sheet is positive regarding the legislative agreements concluded after the inter-institutional negotiations, mediated neutrally by the member state holding the rotating presidency of the Council, the Romanian MEP clarifies.

In this regard, she recalls the activity of managing key EU files in the first two months of mandate, in which the Presidency obtained the completion of 25 files only in February, in addition to the the successful Gas and Copyright Directives. Building on these results which amazed many Brussels officials, she says, the Romanian Presidency can strengthen its mandate further and prove it can be a trustworthy partner among the Member States.

On the other hand, the challenges Romania faces during the six month mandate, and referred to by Ramona Mănescu as having the potential to affect the image of the Presidency, are generated by the national political struggles that are projected in Brussels, the distrust expressed publicly by Romanian representatives regarding the institutional capacity of the Presidency Corps, but most importantly, by the possibility that Romania itself might miss to fully capitalize on the expertise and the human resources held.

For a more in-depth understanding of those submitted by MEP Ramona Mănescu, we fully reproduce her text:

”The Council of the European Union is a key decision-making body in the European structure, alongside the Parliament and the Commission. That is why the exercise of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union offers Romania the opportunity to bring national and regional priorities to the forefront, of course, in convergence with the European ones. It is also a unique opportunity for Romania to redefine its image and  increase its prestige.

On the other hand, this mandate is a moment when Romania can permanently position itself, beyond doubt, at the heart of the European project as a serious, responsible and trustworthy partner. We need to demonstrate the capacity to handle large dossiers that outweigh the country’s borders.

Achieving the objectives assumed by Romania during its mandate equates to a successful presidency. Certainly, some of our goals favor Romania, our country profile happily fitting themes such as “improving the resilience of the Union to cyber attacks,” “fighting online disinformation and fake news” or “reaffirming the importance of the Black Sea region on the EU agenda, including from the perspective of revitalizing the Black Sea Synergy “.

In the two months since taking office, Romania has already made significant successes. Some would say that “it is a surprise from Romania to the European partners.” I say it is a confirmation of the real capacities that Romania has in the diplomatic and institutional field. The Gas Directive is by far the most powerful example. On February 12, a tripartite dialogue between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission resulted in a formal agreement on amendments to the Gas Directive. The provisional agreement with the European Parliament was obtained only two days after the Permanent Representatives Committee gave the Presidency of the Council the mandate to start the negotiations.

I have already said that Romania offers concrete and consistent examples of a successful mandate while holding the Presidency of the EU Council. But we must not forget where we started.

Just one year before we took over the presidency, we had seen an aggressive campaign against Romania. This campaign had intensified in the last three months of 2018. There had even been speculations that Romania would not take over the Presidency, although there was mechanism to do so. All media campaigns have had an impact on overall confidence. This is also because the general public does not know in detail the functioning of the institutional mechanisms.

Starting from this negative context, it is encouraging to see how the same media subsequently recognized the successes of Romania, pointing in particular to the closing of the Gas Directive dossier.

The Copyright Directive is another file that had been on hold for three years. Romania has succeeded in obtaining the support of the EU Member States for a compromise text on this file and later the agreement of the European Parliament by taking two decisive steps towards closing the dossier, which only awaits the confirmation of Member States within the EU Council.

In fact, if we look today at the results of the Romanian Presidency, we will see at least 25 agreements concluded only in February! The themes are extremely diverse and practically cover virtually all areas of competence of the Council, from security to digitalization and from environment to financial markets.

Romania’s very good start in January and February, which we have all witnessed, makes us even more compelled in the coming months. A successful Presidency is noticed when it proves a number of qualities and has a positive final balance sheet. Although the country holding the Presidency is always changing, it has a permanent and unique character. That is why coordination and continuity between the countries holding the presidency, between the people involved in the Presidency and the various Council formations are essential. This coordination and collaboration should take place not only between Brussels and Bucharest, but also between the central authorities.

The presidency must be neutral and impartial. This is because it can neither favor the interests of other Member States nor push national preferences before European ones.

The Presidency can not be politicized. Such an approach would undermine the capacity and performance of the Presidency, to the detriment of both Romania and the European Union.

It is essential not to fall into the sin of moving the internal political struggle from Bucharest to Brussels. Making Romania a special case, in the context of the Presidency, definitely undermines our chance of being on an equal footing with others. And I firmly believe that the Romanians deserve this chance offered by the Presidency of the EU Council to be treated with more respect.”

 

 

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INTERVIEW Jorge Domecq, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, ahead of a major conference in Bucharest: Our objective is to make the European Union a security provider in a more complex security environment

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© The Parliament Magazine

Romania has a big responsibility this year in taking forward all the different EU defence initiatives, says Jorge Domecq, the chief executive of EU body for defence – the European Defence Agency – before a paramount conference in Bucharest dedicated to research and innovation in the defence sector.

In an exclusive interview for CaleaEuropeană.ro ahead of the Conference that will take place at the Palace of Parliament on Tuesday, Mr. Domecq pointed out that the event aims to take ”stock of where we stand in defence research in Europe” and highlighted to role Romania plays in this framework.

Moreover, the chief of EDA pointed out that in a world where threats are complex and the model of war is changing, Europe needs to do more together on disruptive technologies and, especially, in artificial intelligence.

Teodora Ion: Together with the Romanian EU Council Presidency, EDA is organizing a conference in Bucharest focused on “Capability-Driven Defence Research and Innovation”. What is your main aim and objective with this event?

Jorge Domecq:  The main aim of the conference is to take stock of where we stand in defence research in Europe. In particular, we are looking at three main aspects. One, to look into the state of cooperative defence research in Europe and specifically the efforts the Agency is doing to prioritise research in Europe with through the Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA). The second aim is to highlight the role of EDA as the main forum for cooperative defence research at the European level, with an important portfolio of research programmes. And the third, is to look into funding instruments that the European Commission is bringing to the table to promote the competitiveness of the European defence technological industrial base in the research domain.

Teodora Ion: Since 2016 the EU has started to float several flagship initiatives under the EU defence dream: PESCO, CARD, the European Defence Fund (EDF) or the European Defence Industrial Development Program (EDIDP). How are these initiatives linked together and how can we understand better how they work to bring forward the progress and achievements the EU defence has reached so far?

Jorge Domecq: The starting point for improved European defence came with the endorsement of the EU Global Strategy by heads of state and governments in 2016. The different initiatives you mentioned all lead to the same objective: to make the European Union a security provider in a more complex security environment. The different elements  are important. The Capability Development Plan and OSRA, which I mentioned before, set common priorities, they tell us ‘what needs to be done’. The Coordinated Annual Review on Defence looks at the European capability landscape as it stands today and indicates next steps; finally, PESCO, or the Permanent Structured Cooperation, which allows Member States to together plan and implement those cooperative opportunities that were identified by CARD. Finally, the European Defence Fund as a very important financial incentive for European cooperation, including by promoting cooperation across borders of defence industries. That is the objective of these initiatives which now have to be embedded in national defence planning processes.

Teodora Ion: Coming back to the main theme of the Conference in Bucharest – on research and innovation in defence. One of the main purposes of the event will be to address the positive impact of a fusion on research priorities between the national and the European level. How will you tackle this issue?

Jorge Domecq: The first objective now that defence budgets in Europe are growing should be investment. We need to devote an important amount to research and technologies, because we need to provide our armed forces with the capabilities they will need in the future. We have to reverse the decreasing trend in research and technology investment. The second important point of the conference is prioritisation. We need first to set our priorities in the defence research domain and then in a second step, decide which of them can be tackled on the European level and which can be tackled among groups of Member States or at the national level. The Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA) will help us to identify the technologies that will need to be addressed – if possible on the European level, with a European added- value.

Teodora Ion: On the same page, the first research project financed by the European Defence Fund was Pythia, a project that put together seven stakeholders from six EU members, including Romania. The project is underway and aims to deliver a methodology for improving civil and defence technology foresight. What are the main achievements such a cooperation has brought to the EU efforts on research in defence?

Jorge Domecq: The Preparatory Action (PADR) has already demonstrated that it is a catalyst for cooperation among industries and research centers across Europe. It is of clear benefit to European defence. The National Defence University of Romania  has brought its renowned defence expertise to Pythia, which is a big advantage for the project. However, it is still too early to speak about the impact of the project. The final deliverables will be on the table this summer but as far as I’m informed, the project is advancing well and will give us a tool in which we will be able to scout for new technologies that might have an impact for defence research in the future.

Teodora Ion: When referring to the EU Defence many speak about an EU Army, people fighting under the EU flag and so on. But from an innovative stance, we live in a world where artificial intelligence grows indispensably and where non-EU companies drive forward the breakthroughs. Therefore, what does the EU aim with research in Future Disruptive Defence Technologies and what should we do to be a global player?

Jorge Domecq: There is a triple need to address technologies which are called disruptive, but more specifically Artificial Intelligence. In the first case, we need to dramatically increase the level of investment. Just to give you an example: in 2017, the entire research and technologies effort at the European level was of 8.8 billion euros. In Artificial Intelligence only, the United States is investing during the same year, 7.4 billion dollars. So, it is a question of size first and of speed second. We need to really start looking at Artificial Intelligence as well as other domains. What applications will these technologies have in defence? How will they affect defence, what opportunities and what vulnerabilities will they bring to other defence systems. This will affect how we will organise our own forces, and how we organise our work at the European Defence Agency. And the third aspect, which I think is very important: cooperation in defence is indispensable. We cannot think in national categories only, especially if we look at new threats.

Teodora Ion: Romania is one of the founding members of PESCO, participant country to several PESCO projects and also the holding EU Council Presidency. Although we know the EU defence is a CFSP/CSPD matter under the coordination of High Representative Federica Mogherini, how do you appreciate Romania’s impetus on the further development of EU defence?

Jorge Domecq: Romania has a big responsibility this year in taking forward all the different EU defence initiatives. For example, in CARD we have just had a workshop in Bucharest this week to discuss the future methodology we are going to apply for the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence which will start its first full cycle this fall. For PESCO, during this first semester we will have the first report ever of the High Representative on the 20 PESCO commitments on the basis of national implementation plans of the different Member States. The Agency also recently just launched the third call of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research; the finalisation of the European Defence Fund regulations and the launching of the first EDIDP calls are imminent. All that is happening as we talk and the Romanian leadership is going to be paramount. Romania is a very active member of the Agency in several domains. It is involved in EDA research projects and programmes together with other Member States of a value of more than 60 millions euros, and  it has been a pleasure to be able to count on the Presidency to take forward this challenging agenda.

The conference Capability-Driven Defence Research and Innovation Conference will take place on 26 March 2019 at the Palace of the Parliament venue in Bucharest, under the auspices of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The conference is organised by the Armaments Department of the Romanian Ministry of National Defence, in cooperation with the European Defence Agency (EDA), and will welcome representatives from Ministries of Defence, defence research centres, industry and other European institutions.

The European Defence Agency (EDA) is an intergovernmental agency of the Council of the European Union. The Agency falls under the authority of the Council of the EU, to which it reports and from which it receives guidelines. The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union is the Head of the EDA, while the body is also run by a Chief Executive appointed by the member states.

 

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INTERVIEW Manfred Weber launched in Bucharest his bid as head of the next European Commission: ”We have to reconnect Europe, the Brussels level to the citizens”

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©️ Calea Europeană/ Diana Zaim

We have to reconnect Europe, the Brussels level to the citizens, came out from Manfred Weber’s call ahead of the EPP local and regional leaders Summit in Bucharest, were we spoke in an interview for Calea Europeană about the plans that a Weber Commission has for Europe and the program of the National Liberal Party from Romania in the upcoming EU elections.

Speaking before the speech where he presented is vision as EPP lead candidate for the president of the European Commission, Manfred Weber described to Calea Europeană the profile that the next European Commissioners should have in his mandate.

 

Robert Lupițu: Mr. Weber, the current President of the European Commission and the former Spitzenkandidat from EPP did not manage to visit Romania during the EP elections campaign back in 2014. But now you are here in Bucharest for the EPP regional and local leaders. Why is Romania important for you and for your project for Europe?

Manfred Weber: For me there is no Europe of East, West, North, South, small or big, poor or rich countries. There are only Europeans with their concerns, with their emotions and with their hopes for the future of our European way of life. That is why first of all I want to listen. The mayors told me about the problems in their regions, their villages and their cities. To listen is the very most important thing for a European politician and then to act. This is why I am in favour of a strong regional policy. I think we have still to invest a lot, especially in Romania. In infrastructure, in hospitals, to make the life better here in Romania. This is what I want to do, together with the agriculture funds. This is what we need for the future. And again, Europe starts with listening, that’s why politicians have to listen.

Robert Lupițu: PNL list of candidates for the EP elections looks like a solid one – 6 current MEPs, two important mayors and on top of the list there is one of the finest Romanian journalists. Why should the Romanian citizens vote for PNL candidates and not for others?

Manfred Weber: First of all, it is about the concrete program of PNL for the future of Romania inside of Europe. I have to say, the last years under the Socialist government, Romania was more perceived as a country we spoke about the weak engagement in the fight against corruption and other developments that were negative. Romania was not anymore in the first row of the European development and this why I think PNL has a good chance to show that Europe must be the first row. Romania is a strong European country and we want to see a strong Romanian voice on the European level. And the second is about the list. I think it is a good mixture, with professionals that have a lot of experience at a European level, six of them are active current members of the European Parliament and also fresh air: mayors who are very professionals and know what to do from a local point of view and others such as journalists. I think is a good mixture and is good to see that PNL is going up in the polls. We are having a good momentum. Everybody must now: when you vote for PNL you will be part of the largest political family in Europe that makes a lot of impact to the decision-making process.

Robert Lupițu: One final question. You mentioned about your program for Europe. How will the Weber Commission look and what type of profile should the next Romanian Commissioner have for your Commission and for your program for Europe?

Manfred Weber: I don’t wan to propose anything. We need a good mixture in the next European Commission between men and women. I think we have to respect the gender balance in the European Commission and we have to think about the practical impact. Is someone capable to deliver what it has to do? So, the next European Commission must be, first of all, a democratically legitimated Commission and it must be a Commission who is really listening a lot. We are not Brussels bubble, we are not elites in Brussels. We should be close to people and that is why all the Commissioners, I myself as a Commission President, must be close to people. And all the project must be linked to the concerns of the people. That is what I deeply believe. We have to reconnect Europe, the Brussels level to the citizens. 

Manfred Weber has served as Leader of the European People’s Party in the European Parliamentsince 2014. He has been a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Germany since 2004.

On the 5th September 2018, Weber declared his intention to run for the position of President of the European Commission and was elected as the candidate of the EPP on November 8th.

 

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The National Liberal Party has nominated its candidates for the European elections. The list includes six MEPs, two important mayors and distinguished leaders with the journalist Rares Bogdan on top

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The National Liberal Party is the largest center-right party in Romania and a member of the European People’s Party, has nominated today the list with the candidates for the 23-26 May European elections. The National Liberal Party adopted the list of those who will compete for as many mandates as possible of the 33 mandates which are allocated to Romania. The list has been made under the motto “Romania in the first place” with two days before hosting in Bucharest the Summit of regional and local EPP leaders about the European elections in 2019.

On the list of the Liberals for the European Parliament elections, there are, according to the seats occupied by the internal vote: Rareş Bogdan (TV producer), Mircea Hava (Mayor of Alba Iulia), Siegfried Mureşan (MEP and EPP spokesman), Vasile Blaga (former co-president of the National Liberal Party) AdinaVălean (MEP), Daniel Buda (MEP), Dan Ştefan Motreanu (vice-president of the National Liberal Party), Gheorghe Falcă (Mayor of Arad), Cristian Buşoi (MEP), Marian-Jean Marinescu (MEP and deputy chair of the EPP Group in the European Parliament ), Vlad Nistor (vice-president of the National Liberal Party), Mihai Ţurcanu (MEP) or Violeta Alexandru (former minister).

“The National Liberal Party is the political force, in fact, the only political force that is respected and  appreciated at European level, which has the capacity to influence the decisions at European level in favor of Romania. It is up to every member of the National Liberal Party to be seriously involved in this campaign, to open and have an open ommunication with every citizen of Romania. We have to send  to our message very clearly, that  “Romania in the first place!”, said the leader The National Liberal Party, Ludovic Orban,  in the debates of the Liberals meeting.

After the list of candidates for the European Parliament has been set by BEx, it will be validated by the National Political Bureau of the party, which will be held also on Thursday in Parliament.

A total of 49 liberals entered the race for the European Parliament.

At present, MEPs in the European Parliament are: Daniel Buda, Cristian Buşoi, Marian-Jean Marinescu, Siegfried Mureşan, Traian Ungureanu and Adina Vălean.

Continue reading: EPP Regional and Local Leaders to debate future of Europe with Manfred Weber and Klaus Iohannis on 16 March in Bucharest

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