During the first half of 2019, Romania holds the presidency of the EU Council. This is the first such important mandate of Bucharest at the European level after the country’s join the EU in 2007. The solemnity of the moment, however, was “blurred” by the internal crisis in Romania and the crisis of confidence of Brussels to Bucharest. Experts believe that it is unlikely that Bucharest in such a weak position will be able to promote the issues related to the interests of Moldova within the EU. Unless, as it has already happened, to act in the interests of their political partners in the name of the Moldovan authorities, closing their eyes to the problems associated with democracy in Moldova, including in the context of parliamentary elections.
The official opening ceremony of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council will take place on January 10 in Bucharest. The motto of the Romanian Presidency is “Cohesion as a common European value”.
The handover of Presidency from Austria to Romania was preceded by a scandal. A few days before the head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, in an interview to the German newspaper Die Welt, expressed doubts the ability of Romanian authorities to successfully cope with the EU Presidency. “I believe that the Romanian government has not yet fully realized what it means to lead the EU countries. Thoughtful acting also requires a willingness to listen to others and the firm will to put one’s own concerns at the end of the queue. And here I have some doubts”, Juncker said.
The Romanian government immediately assured that Romania was fully prepared for its mandate as EU Presidency and urged not to use this topic for internal political struggle. One way or another, Juncker’s statement “blurred” a little the solemnity of the historical moment.
Whether Romania will cope with the first such an important mandate after joining the EU in 2007 is the main topic of discussion in the Romanian media in recent months. Pressone.us noted that lately in Brussels and the main European capitals have criticized Bucharest for retreating from democratic values and the fight against corruption.
“For the first time, an EU member country is warned about a deviation from the basic values of the European Union, and at the same time, it is assigned the task of coordinating such a fundamental European institution”, journalist Matei Berbulescu says.
The expert, former State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania, Valentin Naumescu, in turn, notes that Romania’s Presidency will take a very difficult period: Brexit, elections to the European Parliament, the start of the electoral year and preparation for presidential elections in Romania.
Naumescu believes that Bucharest is not ready for such a complex mandate, especially in conditions when the Romanian government lacks the support of neither the European Parliament nor the European Commission. “Within six months, the whole world of searchlights will be focused on Romania”, he says. And all the failures will be noticeable even more, the expert adds.
Meanwhile not only in Bucharest, but also in Chisinau they pinned great hope with the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council. A few years ago, Moldovan officials and politicians even seriously discussed the possibility of Moldova getting the status of a candidate country for the EU in this period.
According to the political expert Dionis Cenuşa, in another situation, the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council could indeed be a great advantage for Moldova, improving its dialogue with the EU and receiving European assistance. “The reality, however, is different. Romania received the presidency, being technically prepared but not politically. Therefore, this presidency will bring little benefit to the Republic of Moldova”, said the expert in an interview to Europa Libera.
Cenuşa added that Romania is now so weak that it will not be able at the European level to promote the issues related to the interests of Moldova . At the same time, he recalled that the Romanian government has recently demonstrated more than once that it was “on the side of the authorities in Chisinau”, for example, when it blocked critical documents about the Moldovan authorities in the EU Council and the European Parliament. “Obviously, Romania, as the country presiding at the EU Council, may close its eyes to some things that are happening in Chisinau, and we are talking primarily about parliamentary elections”, the expert concluded.
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