Romanian EU Council Presidency: Fighting for a stronger voice

Written by Victor Negrescu on 15 February 2019 in Opinion
Opinion

Romania has been part of the EU for ten years. Its EU Council Presidency is an opportunity to reinforce the country's European credentials, writes Victor Negrescu

Victor Negrescu | Photo Credit: Natalie Hill


My entire political career has been built around my faith in the European project.

My country has progressed immeasurably since joining the EU member in 2007. We owe it to Romanian citizens to continue and accelerate this progress.

The only way forward for Romania is more Europe. I started my professional career as a journalist and social entrepreneur after studying abroad for almost nine years.


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Witnessing the worrying lack of investments and coherent policies in the educational and healthcare system, I decided to enter politics as an activist, building a pro-European platform in the Social Democratic Party (PSD), which later became a network of more than 10,000 members (PES activists Romania).

In 2014, I was elected to the European Parliament and later, in 2017-2018, I became part of the Romanian Government, as a Minister-Delegate for European Affairs. I continued to work to bring Romania closer to the core of the EU, to reduce the gap separating us from older members and to increase our participation in the EU decision making process.

I have always been proud that our social democrats were crucial in Romania’s accession to NATO and the EU. I am certain that our political family can lead Romania to fully realise the benefits that all our citizens expect and deserve. Nevertheless, for the first time the EU faces criticism in Romania.

In recent months I have witnessed increasing numbers of public and political voices leaning towards Euroscepticism. The EU institutions are being blamed for issues outside their remit. Our European partners are being turned into electoral scapegoats.

This is not the vision nor the desire of the Romanian people; almost four million Romanians live in other EU countries and more than 60 percent of public investment projects in Romania in the last 10 years were supported by European funds.

I believe that Romania can do more in the EU. It can be more active while respecting common European values, practices and traditions.

Following Brexit, we will be the sixth-largest member state; it should now understand its responsibility towards all European citizens. Romania’s first Presidency of the EU Council is an excellent opportunity to show what we can do to improve Europe; unfortunately, not everyone shares this perspective.

"In recent months I have witnessed increasing numbers of public and political voices leaning towards Euroscepticism. The EU institutions are being blamed for issues outside their remit. Our European partners are being turned into electoral scapegoats"

The lack of true political commitment and consensus in supporting Romania’s European path pushed me to send a wake-up call by resigning as minister for EU affairs. I am sure this has been heard, I hope it will be followed.

The PES Manifesto for the European elections promotes a new social contract based on seven strategic dimensions: a Europe with justice for all, supporting freedom, democracy and equal rights. A sustainable and progressive Europe for the young and strong on the global stage.

These are principles that Romanian citizens support and believe in. The PES Romanian organisation supports my current candidacy for the European Parliament, because we want to continue to support Romania’s European path. We believe we can do so best from the Parliament.

Together with my colleagues, I will continue to fight for a strong, progressive, developed Romania that acknowledges its strengths and its role on the EU scene, willing and able to live up to its potential.

I believe this is Romania’s most important challenge now and for the coming years. After contemplating its potential as an EU member for more than a decade, our country must finally make its mark.

It can do so by encouraging and promoting the Romanian creators, forward thinkers and innovators and by supporting, improving and guaranteeing the rights of honest, hard-working Romanians at home and across the EU.

"After contemplating its potential as an EU member for more than a decade, our country must finally make its mark"

We should also create more opportunities for the most dynamic economic sectors, whilst accelerating the rate at which we close the development gaps affecting the most vulnerable regions and social groups and articulating clear priorities for our future within the EU. Romania has worked tremendously hard to transform itself, and in many aspects is more advanced and modern than otherwise perceived.

As an MEP, I fought hard to change this perception in Europe and also to improve connections to European opportunities in the infrastructure, education, research, health, energy and digital sectors.

I have also fought several injustices against Romanians, such as discrimination or the continuing - and completely unwarranted - denial of Schengen accession.

As a cabinet member, I worked hard to prepare the current Presidency of the EU Council and to connect our country to the current debate about the future of the EU. Now, I want to continue to promote and connect my country with Europe, giving it a stronger voice within the EU and to live and feel European.

About the author

Victor Negrescu is a former S&D Group MEP and Romanian Minister Delegate for European Affairs

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