Update – Klaus Iohannis, at the EU summit in Bratislava: It is important to avoid EU fragmentation. Reserved optimism on Schengen accession prospects

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Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has said, ahead of the informal EU summit in Bratislava, the first one without the UK, that the initial deadline for Romania to adopt the EUR in 2019 was too optimistic, even non-realistic. Iohannis stressed the target is to join the eurozone, but warned that a too hasty approach would harm Romanian economy. “We aim to join both the eurozone and the Schengen areas,” Iohannis said.

On the other hand he said in Brussels some national leaders talk about the EU in good terms, about its future. Nevertheless, the same leaders have an opposite speech at home, accusing the EU for the mistakes they made at national level, for their failures at home. “Serious, credible communication is needed, such things should not happen,” Iohannis said during a briefing on Thursday at Cotroceni Palace. He added that such approaches make populist and extremist parties have success.

President Iohannis said a flexible approach towards European integration is needed, aimed at cohesion, credibility, both in front of the citizens but also in the foreign approach.

“The EU is considered as one of the global leaders and is one of them, nevertheless we find out from the leaders we talk to that the world asks questions about the union’s future, about the way the unions answers the crises. It is important to avoid the EU’s fragmentation, to focus on the issues that bring us together, which deepen the east-west and the north-south vision,” Iohannis said.

The Romanian head of state underlined that Romania envisaged the deepening of European integration. “We want Romania to be deeply integrated in all EU processes and we believe a deep integration is one of the solutions for the multiple European crises,” the Romanian head of state concluded.

President plays down enthusiasm regarding Schengen accession

Upon arriving in Bratislava for the summit, President Iohannis said: “I believe that slowly but steadily our partners have realised that Romania is a marginal country only in geographic terms. Actually, we are well prepared, we have proved we can face any migration wave, we have protected our borders, and on the other hand we have succeeded in integrating a number of migrants arriving in Romania.”

In spite of the positive signals during the state visit paid by the President of France Francois Hollande, the issue of joining the Schengen area is not solved, talks with lots of partners are needed. “Things are never simple. Talks with lots of partners are needed. Let’s not imagine the problem is solved. It has turned positive, but there’s a lot of work lying ahead to solve it,” Iohannis said.

Referring to the agenda, the Romanian head of state mentioned that the talks aim more than the Brexit issue, also a wider strategy for the future of the EU including border protection, fighting terrorism, the common market and employment. “Today we would start to elaborate a plan, which will be completed in the following months, until March (2017 – our note) when 60 years since the Treaty of Rome are celebrated. Until then we want to have a plan for the EU. Romania will bring issues related to the national strategy, to deeper integration, to the integration in the Schengen area and in the eurozone,” President Iohannis further said.



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