José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement of President Barroso following his meeting with Traian Băsescu, President of Romania
Joint press conference with the President of Romania, Traian Băsescu
Bucharest, 9 November 2010
Thank you, Mr President. It is a real pleasure to be back in Bucharest and once again be hosted by my good friend President Băsescu. We have just had a very good discussion on all the key issues facing Romania. President Băsescu is a committed European and I have made clear that we will work with him to help modernise Romania and strengthen its role in the European Union. Our immediate priority is to bring stability to the economic situation. We know that Romania has taken very difficult measures, tough measures, but the alternative would be even more difficult. The key now is to stay the course and implement the fiscal consolidation measures and structural reforms that the country needs. Romania has one of the highest borrowing costs in the EU and without this kind of reform, the conditions for attracting investors, building trust and thus creating growth and jobs will not be met. I have discussed with President Băsescu on how we can best protect the most vulnerable groups in society and on how we can stimulate growth. I believe European funds could play a crucial role in stimulating the economy, and therefore help to reduce poverty.
We need to speed up the flow of European funds so the funds can be used to the full. I have spoken to President Băsescu to see how we can give a new impetus to this area through an “EU investments delivered initiative”. This involves an action plan to accelerate delivery, increased political oversight in Romania and further technical assistance from the Commission to improve the administrative capacities at all levels in Romania. I will be writing to President Băsescu in the coming weeks to set out this initiative in more detail and I am very happy to see that the President's reaction has already been positive.
As President Băsescu indicated, we have discussed Romania's desire to join the Schengen area next year. The Commission has always taken the position that it supports Romania joining Schengen, provided all conditions are met. This has not changed. The key now is to make sure that all the technical requirements are satisfied so that the Council can make the evaluation and decision. As you know, the decision needs to be taken unanimously, by all member states of the Schengen area.
Building trust in the member states is crucial. That is why showing progress on judicial reform and the fight against corruption is so important. I want to congratulate President Băsescu for his quick reaction to our recommendations in the July cooperation and verification mechanism report. Commission experts will be here next week to assess the progress in the seven priority areas we have identified. I hope that they are able to conclude that the country has again embraced the mechanism as a positive support to its own reform agenda.
I would also like to congratulate Mr Băsescu for signing the Treaty on the border regime with Moldova. The treaty has also an important practical value as, on the one hand, it clarifies aspects related to Romania's accession to the Schengen area, and, on the other, it demonstrates the support for Moldova and for its closeness to the European structures. I would like to thank the President of Romania for inviting me to take part in this Danube Summit. I believe it was an excellent initiative of Romania and I would like to tell you that in the next month we will prepare and publish some proposals and some of them have been already mentioned for the first time today.