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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Remarks by President Barroso following his meeting with the President of Romania, Traian Băsescu
Brussels, 14 February 2014
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
I am delighted to welcome President Băsescu back to the European Commission today.
We had, in fact, a very fruitful meeting where we discussed important issues for Romania and for Europe.
President Băsescu and I have discussed the economic situation in Romania. The macroeconomic outlook has improved; the risks related to balance of payments have receded significantly. I made clear to President Băsescu that the Commission remains strongly committed to supporting the necessary reforms in Romania through – amongst others – the new Balance of Payments programme and the Country-specific recommendations.
We have also discussed today how we can best get EU funding to Romanian citizens and businesses by improving management and control. Good progress has been made in this sense but efforts have to continue.
We also had an exchange on the Romanian proposal to further develop the technology cluster in Cluj – the 'Cluj Innovation City'. I could see the enthusiasm that President Băsescu puts in that project. The Commission welcomes this kind of initiative, which fosters the transfer of knowledge and innovation and also the cooperation between research and business. I told President Băsescu that the European Union funding may be made available, provided, of course, that the proposed investments are in line with the objectives and priorities identified in the future operational programmes.
We also talked about the latest Cooperation and verification report which the Commission has adopted three weeks ago. I welcome the fact that Romania has made significant progress in many areas. At the same time, some concerns remain on the independence of the judiciary and on the implementation of anti-corruption measures. It is essential that a consensus is reached in continuing efforts to achieve the objectives of the Cooperation and verification report. The reform process must be maintained, and the results that have been achieved so far should be consolidated.
I have once again reiterated the Commission's long-standing position that Romania should join the Schengen area as soon as possible, as all the criteria have been met.
I would like to make a more general point on the free movement of citizens. It is an issue where President Băsescu and I very much agree: namely that you cannot have a single market without freedom of movement. Of course, we will work hard with Member States to tackle abuse, but – and I say this very clearly – the core principle of free movement of citizens must not be called into question.
We have also discussed the Commission's first anti-corruption report and our ideas for the forthcoming proposals to develop a framework to address Rule of law issues.
Also discussed was the Moldova situation. This is not only a regional issue for Romania – an important one – but an issue of strategic relevance for Europe. I want to pay tribute to the investment made by Romania and by President Băsescu in this matter.
As you know, last November, at the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit, the commitment was made to sign the Association Agreement with Moldova as soon as possible. I am very pleased with the significant achievement that has been made to initial this Association Agreement. This is a very important signal we are sending. The Agreement will be a real breakthrough in terms of Moldova's European path. Together with European reforms, it will strengthen the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova.
I intend, following the invitation by the government of Moldova, to visit Moldova, still in the first semester of this year.
I want to thank President Băsescu for the very open and friendly conversation we had and for the analysis he gave of the very important challenges that his country, the region and Europe are facing. And I want to thank him in this occasion for the cooperation that you have been showing to the European Commission and to the European institutions in general.