Dutch PM Mark Rutte, who met President Iohannis and PM Dancila in Bucharest on Wednesday, said after meeting the Romanian President that his country is concerned about the rule of law in Romania, while underlining that this is the basis of the European project.
Questioned about the call made in June by 12 embassies, the Dutch one included, to Romania to not weaken the rule of law, Mark Rutte said his country had watched the latest developments in Romania and it has certain concerns regarding the rule of law, and the same concerns have been voiced by the European Commission.
„For all of us, for the entire European Union, the rule of law is a key issue, is the basis of the European partnership, the legal and judicial safety for companies and private individuals. Let’s see what the European Commission will say and we’ll see each of us if progress had been made and to what extent,” the Dutch premier stated.
During the meeting at Cotroceni Palace, President Iohannis reiterated the fact that Romania would like to join Schengen area as soon as possible.
“I underlined Romania’s support for more efficient management of the EU’s borders. I reiterated Romania’s desire to join the Schengen area as soon as possible,” Iohannis told the joint conference with the Dutch PM Mark Rutte.
The Romanian head of state reminded that the Netherlands is the first foreign investor in Romania and that many jobs are created as a result of direct Dutch investment in Romania, while also stressing the role of the Romanian community in the Netherlands.
“The community of Romanians, about 30,000 Romanians living in the Netherlands, is a predominantly young, well-prepared, well-integrated community that can contribute to the the Netherlands’ development in a positive way,” said Iohannis.
Iohannis further stated that, even if Romania and the Netherlands don’t always share the same opinions, they are working towards the same common goal, meaning enhancing the European unity and promoting the solidarity among EU members.
He said the talks with the Dutch PM also tackled the priorities of the Romanian presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2019 and the preparations for the Sibiu European summit on May 9, 2019.
“I agreed with Prime Minister Rutte that the future agenda of the EU must find an appropriate reflection in the European Union’s budget for the post-2020 period. I underlined that Romania, as the next country to assume the presidency of the EU Council, will prioritise negotiations over the multi-annual financial framework. I also showed that Romania is ready to get involved in advancing debates on other important topics, such as strengthening the economic and monetary union, an important subject that I detailed. Romania maintains that it is essential to ensure transparency toward non-euro area member states and we are pleased that the Netherlands supports such approach. A particular subject we tackled was EU’s internal security, including migration. Romania will continue to get involved, including as holder of the EU Council presidency, in consolidating the tools the EU has to handle these topics,” said Iohannis.
Rutte’s answer to his Romanian counterpart
During the meeting of the Dutch PM with his Romanian counterpart, Viorica Dancila has asked Mark Rutte to endorse Romania’s bid to join Schengen, arguing this topic should not be related to the Mechanism of Verification and Cooperation (MVC).
„Considering Romania meets the technical criteria to join Schengen, a fact confirmed by the European Commission, I asked the Dutch PM to support Romania in meeting this goal. I strongly believe Romania deserves to be in the Schengen area and we should not relate the MVC issue to the Schengen standards,” PM Dancila said.
She added the bilateral relation has a considerable potential to grow. „I don’t want to talk about domestic political disputes. It’s important for me that you trust the capacity of the Romanian Executive to correctly carry on its mandate, to have as good as possible bilateral relations”, she told the joint conference with her Dutch counterpart.
Dancila underlined that it is the first visit paid by a Dutch premier in Romania in the past 15 years and it aims at „expanding bilateral relation in such fields as investments, research and defence cooperation”.
On the other hand, Mark Rutte retorted that, although the Netherlands doesn’t agree on Schengen, it agrees in may other aspects that are related to bilateral cooperation and the involvement of the two countries in the European project, considering Romania will take over the EU Council Presidency as of January 2019.
„During Romanian Presidency of the European Council discussions will focus on Brexit, migration. I think Romania will be remembered for many reasons, as president of the EU Council, but one of the most important reasons will be the EU budget for the next 5 yeas, So, Romania will leave its mark on Europe’s agenda for the upcoming five years, after the elections for the European Parliament, and its inheritance will be seen very clearly. I have all confidence in the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council and the Netherlands will always work constructively with Romania, when there are problems,” Rutte pointed out.