On Wednesday 10 May, shortly after the weekly meeting of the college of Commissioners, President Juncker and I flew to Bucharest. During the flight, we discussed the following day’s programme and he asked me many questions on all aspects of today’s Romania.
Thursday was THE big day. We started with the national Parliament and a meeting with the presidents of both houses of the Parliament, Călin Popescu Tăriceanu and Liviu Dragnea. This meeting was followed by President Juncker’s speech in front of the Romanian MPs, a speech dedicated to the future of Europe and Romania’s role in it. The president pointed out that “Romania and the European Union go together” and that he would militate with Romanian authorities to guarantee the irreversibility of implemented reforms. President Juncker also firmly stated that there is no second-rate Europe, as all the member states have the same rights and obligations
Our following stop was at Cotroceni Presidential Palace to meet Romania's president, Klaus Iohannis, at a reception for Europe day. I guess everybody was pleased to hear President Juncker express his belief that Romania will take over the Council Presidency in 2019, and that it will no longer have to be monitored by the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) on justice, given the efforts that Romania has made to reform its judicial system and to tackle corruption. Moreover, he added, Romania will most probably also manage to become a Schengen state, which it very much deserves, taking into account that it has met all the necessary conditions so far. President Iohannis reiterated the benefits that Europe has brought to Romania and I must say that I do agree that they are indeed, undeniable.
We also met Romania's prime-minister, Mr. Sorin Grindeanu to discuss the current challenges at the community bloc level before heading for the last stage of the day, the citizens’ dialogue I was proud to share with Jean-Claude Juncker, at the National Museum of Art.
Now, I speak at many citizens’ dialogue across Europe, but believe me, this one in Bucharest will remain a cherished memory: the room was literally packed with people from all sorts of backgrounds, all of them eager to speak and listen about Europe! President Juncker answered all the questions the audience addressed to him, in a kind and open way, clarifying that the European Union's main aim is not to "dictate" and impose the Member States what to do, but rather to help them.
Romania however does not mean only Bucharest. And president Juncker himself expressed his wish to visit more of Romania. This is why, I am happy that the next citizen dialogue that I will have in Romania will take place in Cluj-Napoca, a hallmark of Transilvania.
Photos from the visit can be found here.