Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, the host of the EU informal Summit in Sibiu has praised the meeting in his closing speech, stating that Romania has become the center of the debate on the EU’s future and that he is content Romania sends a message of unity to enhance the Union. In his view, the discussions with the EU leaders strengthened the conviction that “we can write the EU’s future together”, yet adding that a better, more intense communication with the European citizens is needed.
“Romania, as a country currently holding the Presidency of the Council of EU and as a member state deeply invested in the strengthening of the European project has become the centre of the debate on the future of the EU today. Europe has come to Romania. Historically speaking, this is the first meeting of the European Council Romania has got a chance to host. Today’s discussions made us stronger in believing that we can write the future of the European Union together. We wished – and now we can finally say that we did it – to have a summit of unity, where to prove our determination to pursue the European integration project as a democratic project like there was no other before, a project of peace and prosperity, a project of both domestic and external stability. I am glad that Romania is sending a positive, unitary message to the member states and the European institutions to strengthen EU based on a clear set of principles and values,” President Iohannis told the joint press conference with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.
The Romanian head of state has voiced hope that the Declaration adopted at the Sibiu Summit will remain a significant one in the EU history.
“According to what we agreed two years ago on the occasion of the celebration in Rome of the 60th anniversary since the signing of the treaties, the most important message of the Sibiu Declaration is the confirmation of our will to continue the European project together. We are sending thus a message of political will of unitary action on May 9, Europe Day. I congratulate you on Europe Day,” Iohannis pointed out, stressing that the principles and objectives in the Declaration are about strengthening the European unity.
“In an ever-changing European and global context, it is important that the future strategic agenda provides a common understanding of the priority goals that we must focus on, while at the same time ensuring flexibility of our instruments and resources to reach them,” President Iohannis further said.
On the other hand, the Romanian President stressed that the necessary tools must be also provided in order to shape the future of a more efficient Union, speaking about the future Strategic Agenda that should focus on a more ambitious action, on an Europe of growth and convergence, an enhanced Single Market and internal security of the EU and ensuring an efficient external action. “We want a better, more intense and more transparent communication with the European citizens”, he concluded.
Juncker: The summit proved solid unity, not one just for the show
The Sibiu Summit showed unity not just for show, but a solid unity, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told the same joint press conference, while confessing he wanted to make participants fall in love with Sibiu.
While reviewing the economic developments across the EU, the EC head Juncker argued that saying that everything is going wrong wouldn’t be exact, preferring to rather say that everything is well, but not complete.
“I found out today that my slogan <To be big on big and to be small on small> has been also adopted by the other actors. It’s important to look more closely to things and to acknowledge that, as against 2014, the unemployment dropped and returned to a level comparable to the one before the 2007 crisis. Deficits are also down. To say that everything is going wrong is an error. But we cannot either say everything is fine. It would be incomplete”, Juncker also said.
“There is no EU without the rule of law”
At the same time, apart from committing to the European Union unity, the top officials attending the Informal Summit in Sibiu have also emphasized the importance of the rule of law within the Union’s architecture, stating there is no EU without the rule of law, with the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, hinting that it’s up to Romanians to ensure that the rule of law is observed and with President Iohannis mentioning he knows what the Romanians will say at the upcoming referendum on justice.
Tusk said that the rule of law is the quintessence of the EU and it will be a strategic goal of the Union. “There cannot be Europe without the rule of law, not because it would be an ideological doctrine. This is Europe’s quintessence as a political entity. It is not my place to interfere in a domestic political dispute, but I know one thing, if you are ready to defend the idea, the principle of rule of law, then you can be optimist, and only then. It’s not a problem just in certain member states. We can talk about a concerning and dangerous trend worldwide. Here things are in your hands. If people care about the rule of law, then governments will give in and that’s why we hope that the idea of rule of law is preserved in Europe”, Tusk stated.
In his turn, President Iohannis pointed out that the rule of law underlays the EU values. “We also have politicians who don’t want rule of law in Romania, but the decision is up to the Romanians. I know what this answer will be, I can’t help to receive it”, the Romanian president said.
On a separate, more relaxed note, Donald Tusk admitted he had fallen in love with Sibiu. “I simply fell in love with Sibiu,” Tusk said in Romanian during the joint press conference with Iohannis and Juncker.
Tusk also brought the gloves he had received from the Romanian football legend, Helmuth Duckadam, former goalkeeper of Steaua Bucharest football club. Tusk mentioned and praised Duckadam during a speech in January when Romania officially took the Presidency of the EU Council, for his performance in 1986 when the footballer, dubbed as the “Hero of Seville”, saved four consecutive penalty shots in the shootout during the European Cup Final match in 1986,won by his main club Steaua Bucharest.
“When we met in January, I spoke out of my heart about Romania, because I am convinced that you are remarkable. You have organised an exceptional summit,” Tusk added in Romanian.
Macron: Some decisions by the Romanian Gov’t led to the undermining of the rule of law
Moreover, French President Emmanuel Macron said at the end of the Sibiu informal summit that, in his view, there are decisions taken by the Romanian Government that led to the undermining of the rule of law.
Asked by a journalist if his previous concerns over the non-liberalism in Romania have worsened and if he thinks Romania has already embarked on the same road as Poland and Hungary, the French President has reiterated that he will be vigilant in this regard.
“The European Commission had the opportunity to say this and we are vigilant in this regard. But I also noted that president Iohannis has been always here, vigilant, strong, to keep things afloat“, Macron stated.