Press statement of President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, at the end of his meeting with President of the European Council, Mr. Donald Tusk

17:00 | 31 January 2018 |

President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, on Wednesday, 31 January, in Brussels, the Kingdom of Belgium, held a press statement after meeting with President of the European Council, Mr. Donald Tusk.

The transcript of the press statement (as translated) is as follows:   

„Good afternoon! I have just had a meeting with President Donald Tusk, a very good discussion focussing on two issues: the first part of the debate was shortly about preparing the informal Council on 23 February when we are going to start the first tests on the multiannual financial post-2020 exercise, and here he presented a few approaches that I judged to be good, but, as we are still preparing them I will not give further details, the second part referred to matters related mostly to  the Union’s future, precisely to the elections taking place in 2019. Here, as well, there were some more technical issues. For example, the question has risen whether it is convenient or not to go further with that pattern called „Spitzenkandidat”, that is, every political family have a top candidate, who is advanced and hopes that eventually he will be taken into consideration for the leadership of the Commission. It is a pattern that has been experienced, that has had good results and I consider appropriate to continue the pattern „Spitzenkandidat”. We had another very concrete matter to debate. You are aware that after Great Britain has exited the Union, there will be a few available seats in the European Parliament. During the debates within the European Parliament a suggestion has been raised that, for example, means an extra seat for Romania. This is a proposal that, in my opinion, is a good compromise and I would agree to put it into practice.”

Question and answer session:   

Journalist: With regard to President Jean-Claude Juncker’s previous declaration about lifting the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism and Romania’s accession, eventually, to the Schengen zone. Obviously, these are declarations that rise optimism,  enthusiasm even in Bucharest, but unfortunately it is not in the power of the President of the European Commission to do it, to solve such files. This is about a political decision, it needs that the leaders of the member states aquiesce. When in Bucharest there happens what happens and our country has become a reason of concern, how feasible, solvable do you consider these two files are, within a reasonable period of time?

President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis: Now we have got two files, the VCM is connected to the European Commission and, obviously, it is connected to President Juncker’s point of view and here we can be optimistic. I repeat what I have stated before, it depends to a great extent on us whether we are enough wise to deliver a justice legislation both modernised and sensible that is accepted and it offers the best and it works properly, then the issues related to the VCM could be easily settled. Anyway, the negotiation framework on these issues is given by the VCM, institutionally, and the negotiator on behalf of Romania is the Government. We have to stress this very clearly. Regarding the other file, the Schengen, that is a file about which the Commission expresses its opinion but the resolution is taken within the meeting with the Internal and Justice ministers, about which, obviously, the opinion of the member states is very important. These discussions on justice are obviously not in favour of the Schengen file. Whether they harm or not, we shall see. My opinion is that we have to deal with the justice laws, to make them good. Good for the Romanians, first of all, not for anybody else, and after that we will be able to continue the debates on the Schengen matter, hopefully somehow successfully.      

Journalist: Why do you think the ministers and the Government have renounced the SPP (Protection and Guard Service)? 

President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis: I don’t know, I haven’t thought of it. It seems a non-problem to me.

Journalist: Regarding the discussions with Donald Tusk on the next Multiannual Financial Framework, there is a declaration or a position of the Commissioner for Justice, Vera Jourova, about a potential dependence of the rule of law issue on the allotting of European fund, I wanted to ask whether there is a risk in this respect, another question, what will be Romania’s position at the informal Summit on 23 February, mostly as we could close the Multiannual Financial Framework during Romania’s presidency?    

President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis: The treaties do not stipulate this, and if there is a discussion, it is held in political terms and I don’t think a conclusion can be reached for the negotiations taking place now. I was able to notice this approach within the EPP, which has pronounced on this matter recently and the EPP voice does mean something in this equation, where the rule of law criterion cannot be taken into account, at least for now, for very many reasons.  I don’t believe any concern for Romania will rise out of it. Nor that anybody has started to question whether in Romania the rule of law is still functioning. There is no reason for us to panic ex officio and on any topic.  Our present debates on the justice laws is a matter of Romanian politics and I am optimistic it can have a resolution. The rule of law is vital for Romania, as well as it is vital for Europe, and it was not questioned or doubted about either at home or in Brussels.    

Journalist: Does Romania share the idea of the transnational lists for the European Parliament elections next year for the vacant seats after the Brexit?  

President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis: About the transnational lists, there are two aspects. First of all, this political approach is a new one, and when speaking about politics I am generally enough open to approaches that must not be excluded, at least not until they have been tested. But it is also a matter of European legislation whether to use the transnational lists, as they are defined in the electoral system as well, therefore the discussion must be delayed for another electoral campaign, because treaties would have to be changed, they would have to pass validations in the national parliaments and, in my opinion, it is unlikely that this could happen by the beginning of 2019. So, about this discussion, I think we can be quite open-minded, we can start with a political debate and see what may come out of it.   

Journalist: Liviu Dragnea has declared that you had a discussion after the swearing-in ceremony at the Cotroceni Palace. Can you tell us what you talked about?

President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis: Yes, we did have a talk.

Journalist: What was about?

President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis: Thank you! I wish you a nice day!