President Klaus Iohannis attended the European Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday in Brussels, reiterating Romania's request to become a member of the border-free Schengen Area as soon as possible.The main subjects of the meeting regarded the latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, rising energy prices and the energy crisis, migration, European trade policy, the European Union's digital agenda and the European Union's external relations.
The Presidential Administration points out that with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conclusions of the European Council adopted by the EU leaders reflect the significant progress made at EU level with the fight against the pandemic as a result of vaccination campaigns in the member states, mentioning that the situation in some member states is worrying. There is also a need to step up efforts to reduce vaccination reluctance, including by combating misinformation, especially on social media platforms.
The European Council conclusions also underline the importance of continuing coordination to facilitate free movement inside and outside the EU. In order to strengthen the EU resilience to health crises, the European Council called for the completion of negotiations on the Health Union legislative package and for ensuring that member states are properly involved in the governance of the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).
"President Klaus Iohannis mentioned the crisis that Romania is facing in terms of an increased number of COVID-19 cases and thanked the EU member states for their support to Romania under the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism," according to the Presidential Administration.
Iohannis also called for intensified efforts to combat vaccination reluctance and misinformation, which is one of the main causes for the low vaccination rate.
European leaders discussed at length the recent developments in energy prices. In its conclusions, the European Council calls on the member states to make urgent and effective use of the measures proposed by the European Commission to protect, in the short term, the most vulnerable consumers and to support European companies. The European Commission and the EU Council are also called upon to consider medium- and long-term measures to secure affordable energy for consumers and businesses, increase the resilience of the energy system and the internal energy market, ensure security of supply and support the transition to climate neutrality. The European Council calls on the European Commission to study the functioning of the European gas, electricity and carbon markets and to consider whether certain trading practices, including in relation to the prices of CO2 emissions certificates, require additional regulatory measures. The subject will remain in the attention of the European Council for its forthcoming summit in December.
President Iohannis mentioned the major concern about rising electricity and gas prices, given the impact on the public, businesses and, in particular, on vulnerable consumers.
The Presidential Administration mentions that the measures proposed by the European Commission for managing the multiple consequences generated by the increase in energy prices are a first step towards identifying solutions.
President Iohannis called for the urgent identification of effective short-term solutions aimed first and foremost at protecting vulnerable consumers and avoiding energy poverty. He also advocated for a responsible approach in the medium and long term, which would not affect the competitiveness of European economies and provide predictability to the business environment.
"The President of Romania emphasised the importance of using all the union's sustainable energy resources in order to reduce the current energy dependence on third party suppliers. President Klaus Iohannis insisted that European energy security depends on the use of a balanced mix of technologies and energy sources that includes natural gas and nuclear energy, which should guide European policies on taxonomy," the Presidential Administration shows.
Iohannis is also quoted as having requested the EC to publish, as soon as possible, the Complementary Delegated Act on Sustainable Financing Rules that will include nuclear energy and natural gas.
The summit also discussed the digital transformation of Europe and the growing trend of malicious cyber activities, which aim to undermine the democratic values and security of European society. The conclusions reaffirm the EU's commitment to an open, free, stable and secure cyberspace, and the world countries are encouraged to join and contribute to strengthening such rules. The European leaders emphasised the importance of developing the European management and response to cybercrime framework and strengthening cooperation with partner states, including in international fora.
Leaders' discussions also focused on digital connectivity, with mention of the development and promotion of a European model of connectivity based on EU values of trust, transparency and accountability, as well as the fact that partnerships with like-minded countries play a central role in advancing the EU interests globally.
Discussions on migration focused on the external dimension of this phenomenon, analysing the progress made in line with the European Council conclusions in this field of June 2021. The European Council calls on the European Commission to urgently advance financial solutions to support actions on all migration routes. The European Council also stresses that it will not accept any attempt by third countries to exploit migration for political purposes and condemns all recent hybrid attacks at the European Union's borders, pointing out that the EU will respond accordingly. It is underlined that the EU remains determined to ensure effective control of its external borders. The European Council also points out that efforts to reduce secondary movements must be strengthened, as well as ensuring a fair balance between responsibility and solidarity among member states.
"The President of Romania reiterated the request of Romania to become a member of the Schengen Area as soon as possible, with this objective being a strategic one, not only for Romania, but also for the entire European Union. President Klaus Iohannis showed that in the more than 10 years since Romania should have become part of the Schengen area, the country has de facto acted as a responsible and efficient Schengen member state," the Presidential Administration shows.
At the level of foreign relations, in the run-up to the EU-Asia Summit (ASEM), the European Council expressed support for the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, and called for its swift implementation. With regard to the Eastern Partnership Summit in December, the text of the European Council conclusions mentions that the Union's relations with this region remain of major strategic importance.
President Iohannis pointed out that the Eastern Partnership remains one of the Union's key policies in its immediate vicinity, and it is of the utmost importance to define a long-term strategic vision of the EU for co-operation with the Eastern Partnership states.
"President Klaus Iohannis called for the adoption of a joint declaration of the EU-Eastern Partnership Summit, to be held in Brussels in December, with a high level of ambition, while deepening co-operation with advanced partner states, based on their performance. Romania underscored the need for the European Union to support, through concrete measures, the three partner countries under the Eastern Partnership that want to strengthen their relationships with the European Union," the Presidential Administration shows.
The chief of state said that Romania supports a more active involvement of the EU in endorsing the efforts of the Eastern Partnership countries to deal with prolonged conflicts and to combat hybrid threats in order to strengthen their resilience. He called for the development of co-operation and dialogue on security issues with the Eastern Partnership countries.
At the summit, the European leaders also had a discussion on the rule of law amidst the recent developments in Poland and a strategic debate on the future of European trade policy, without adopting European Council conclusions on these issues.