Under the motto „A Europe that protects”, Austria has assumed its third presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 July 2018.
In a press conference in Bucharest on Monday, the Austrian ambassador to Romania, Isabel Rauscher and Romanian FM Teodor Melescanu have launched the Austrian Presidency of the EU Council at the HQ of the European Commission Representation to Romania.
Ambassador Rauscher has detailed the priorities of the Austrian Presidency of the EU Council, saying her country will focus on tackling such challenges as security and stability of the European space, including the economic stability, the fight against illegal migration, and on securing prosperity and competitiveness through digitalisation.
The Austrian diplomat also said that her country is the last one to held the EU Council Presidency before the elections for the European Parliament and that’s why another focus will be ensure preparations for the European Parliament elections. Negotiations on Brexit and the multi-annual financial framework also top the priorities’ list of the Austrian presidency.
„In the recent years the EU has had to deal with several crisis that have shaken the citizens’ confidence in the EU as an union that guarantees peace,” the ambassador stated, adding that, for this reason, the Austrian Presidency of the EU Council is prioritising the protective role of the European Union, the fight against illegal migration, while aiming to guarantee regional stability and prosperity.
On Schengen topic, the Austrian ambassador in Bucharest said that Austria is not opposing Romania’s accession, saying though that „consensus is needed among all EU member states” and there are difficulties from this perspective.
Furthermore, asked to comment the latest developments on the Romanian judiciary scene, (Kovesi’s revocation and amendment of the criminal laws), ambassador Isabel Rauscher denied to comment, saying it’s an internal matter of Romania that has no direct effect on Schengen accession or on the Romania’s upcoming presidency of the EU and that is not authorized to comment on this situation.
FM Melescanu: You can count on Romania
In his turn, the Romanian Foreign Minister, Teodor Melescanu delivered a message to Austria that it can count on Romania to support and continue their priorities at the helm of the EU Council, considering Romania will be taking over the Presidency of the EU as of January1, 2019.
While praising the „excellent work of the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council, extended over the past six months and the good results in concluding several important files of the EU,” the Romanian FM stated that, from the perspective of Austria’s takeover of the EU Council, „coordinated solutions are the only way to succeed a successful presidency”.
„Your motto is giving a clear idea about things that can be achieved during your presidency, I underline that they have to be enforced through pragmatic and consensual policies of the EU. We’ll continue activities on these issues being in close contact and dialogue with the EU members and with the European Commission as well. You can count on Romania to continue and support your priorities,” Melescanu underlined.
The foreign minister announced that Romania will dedicate its efforts to enhance the unity cohesion and inclusiveness of the EU, a topic that will be tackled during the summit in Sibiu in the spring of 2019, and will assume the continuity of the European dossiers under negotiation and a smooth transition.
On the multi-annual financial framework, Melescanu voiced hope that „Austria will continue discussions and will provide the chance for the budget to be adopted during the Romania’s presidency of the EU”.
„We are very grateful for all the work that you will do. We’ll use all the legacy incorporating for constructive and substantial negotiation process. For Romania, the European budget should be balanced and also a convergent process,” he mentioned.
„We appreciate Austria’s focus on the external dimension of the migration and defence of EU’s external borders. The reform of the EU’s asylum and migration policy is one of the great challenges of the Austrian EU Presidency. We believe we need a consensual basis for our discussions. From this point of view, Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen space will represent the very important consolidation of EU’s internal and external borders,” the FM stated, while arguing that all the efforts on security and defence should be an inclusive, coordinated and complementary approach.
The head of the Romanian diplomacy concluded that another important topic is the Danube strategy. „We hope this issue on Danube will be one point of interests during the Austrian presidency, from our perspective one of the key issues is to ensure the financing of the projects already elaborated in our cooperation along the Danube River.”
Referring to the Austrian Government’s intention to decrease the foreign child benefits, the Romanian FM Melescanu argued that the Romanian side’s stance is that no discrimination should be made among EU citizens, regardless they come from the west or from the east.