Romania takes over EU presidency

Romania has taken over the EU’s presidency at the start of this year. This is the first time the country will take the role of setting the EU’s agenda. And with Brexit and a migration crisis to face, there will be some challenges. There have been mixed reactions over Romania’s ability to cope with the presidency, which will last for six months.

European Council President Donald Tusk commented on Twitter that he has confidence in Romania. He said he is confident that the country “will deliver”. In a tweet, he said: “Happy New Year! I wish Romania all the best with your first EU presidency. I am confident you will deliver and look forward to working with you.”

However, the Commission has expressed doubts over whether Romania will be able to lead successfully, with the main concerns being over rule of law and corruption. Recent clashes, in particular during protests last year, in which the reaction was described as “violent and disproportionate intervention by police, have caused scepticism among some EU officials.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview: “The government of Bucharest has not yet fully understood what it means to preside over EU countries. Prudent action also requires a willingness to listen to others and a willingness to put one’s own concerns in the background. I have some doubts about this. Thoughtful acting also requires a willingness to listen to others and the firm will to put one’s own concerns at the end of the queue.”

Anti-corruption activist from the NGO group, Laura Stefan added: “Romanian leaders are really obsessed about their own legal problems, about not going to jail. We have seen a government that really only has one priority, that is to keep political leaders out of jail, to keep their fortunes in their pockets, rather than in the state estate. So I think that’s one main concern that EU regards to Romania.”

The role of EU presidency requires neutral decision making in terms of legislation. Whether the Romanian government will be able to step up to the challenge will become clear in the coming months. However, Prime Minister, Viorica Dancila said she is confident to “demonstrate that Romania is a reliable partner in consolidating the European project and ensuring its cohesion.”

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