We are working on real convergence and reducing development gaps between Member States, regions and citizens in the EU

Ion Galea was born in 1978. He graduated from the Faculty of Law of the University of Bucharest. Then he specialized at the Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne University. From 2000 to 2002, he completed a Masters Degree in International Relations at the National School of Political and Administrative Sciences in Bucharest. He holds a Masters Degree in European Studies in Graz, Austria. He has gained several specializations.

His professional career began at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania as a diplomat and legal expert. In the periods 2002-2007 and 2009-2010 he is the Head of Unit and Director of the European Law Directorate. From 2010 to 2016, he is General Director of Legal Affairs at the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

E. Mr. Ion Galea is an Associate Professor of International Law at the University of Bucharest. He has a number of publications: 10 books (as author and co-author) and about 30 articles in the field of International Law and European Union Law, including: "The Use of Force in International Law", "EU Treaties - Comments on the Texts", "The Right of Treaties".

The Ambassador is a winner of prestigious Romanian awards: National Order "Faithful Service" (2013), National Order of Merit (2009), Medal "Diplomatic Merit" (2007).

From 2016 he is Ambassador of Romania to the Republic of Bulgaria.

- Your Excellency, a priority of the first Presidency of Romania in the Council of the European Union, which is currently running, is “the European citizen" and the life of ordinary people. What is the aim of this priority?

- The Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU is focused on four pillars of action:

1. A Europe of cohesion: ensuring cohesion and cohesion for sustainable and equal opportunities for the development for all citizens and Member States by increasing competitiveness and reducing gaps in development, social progress, promoting connectivity and digitization, stimulating entrepreneurship and consolidating industrial policy.

2. Safer Europe: consolidating a secure Europe through enhanced convergence between EU Member States to address new security challenges that endanger the citizen's safety and by supporting cooperation initiatives in this area.

3. Europe as a stronger global player: further strengthening the EU's global role by promoting an enlargement policy, European action in its neighborhood, further implementing the global strategy, providing the necessary resources for the EU and implementing all global commitments of the EU.

4. A Europe of common values ​​aimed at fostering solidarity and convergence within the EU by promoting policies to combat discrimination, equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women, as well as through increasing citizen participation in European debates.

With regard to the first pillar, Romania's efforts are aimed at strengthening the relationship between citizens and the Union by engaging them in the European decision-making process and by protecting our democratic system through concerted actions to preserve democratic and free European elections from external interference. Enhancing economic and social cohesion by ensuring real convergence and reducing disparities in the development between the Member States, the regions and the citizens by extending successful European policies such as the euro area, the internal market, the cohesion policy and agriculture, which will deliver tangible results to the citizens -that is also extremely important. This is the only way to move towards a more united Europe and a Europe closer to its citizens.

- Romania presides over the EU Council in a complicated period for the Union – the upcoming Brexit, the European Parliament elections, and the process for defining a new European Commission. What is your country's role in these issues?

- Britain's withdrawal from the EU is a top priority on the agenda of the Romanian Presidency. All we can do at this stage is to keep a close eye on the situation. If there is a way out of this impasse, the decision is in London. We must also keep in mind the protection of the EU's strategic interests. Our pragmatic approach requires further preparation for every possible outcome. As a Presidency, we have made significant progress in adopting the emergency measures proposed by the EC.
From a procedural point of view, holding the European elections during our mandate resulted in an intensive program for negotiating legislative dossiers. There are important dossiers on the EU agenda which affect the everyday life of the citizens and the future of Europe as a whole. That is why we have taken steps to speed up and finalize as many legislative documents as possible before the start of the election campaign. In addition, the Romanian Presidency pays special attention to ensuring a safe environment for the organization of the European elections.
We are working hard to facilitate the implementation of the Commission's package to ensure free and fair elections and the Commission's action plan to tackle disinformation. In January, we reached an agreement with the European Parliament to improve electoral legislation to prevent the misuse of European political parties or personal data in the EP elections. This will allow financial sanctions to be imposed on European political parties and foundations that deliberately influence or attempt to influence the results of the EP elections by taking advantage of data breaches.

- The Presidency has begun at a delicate point in the relationship between Bucharest and Brussels, where criticism of issues such as the fight against corruption and the reform of the judiciary is being heard. What will Romania want from the EC to overcome this tension?

- Our goal is to finalize the cooperation and verification mechanism in order to properly place Romania among all other Member States, subject to horizontal evaluation and monitoring tools in the areas covered by SMEs. In order to achieve this goal, the Romanian authorities remain open to dialogue both in their relations with the Commission and with the other Member States. Romania reaffirms its commitment to maintaining dialogue and cooperation with the European institutions and will continue its efforts in the area of ​​justice and the fight against corruption. Romania and Bulgaria have fulfilled the technical criteria for Schengen accession since 2011. For Romania, this goal remains a priority and we keep it at the top of the agenda.

- Western Balkans Euro-integration was a priority of the Bulgarian EU Council Presidency, as a result of which the Union paid more attention to the region. What was Romania’s role on this issue?

- Romania strongly supports the European perspective at the Western Balkans. The Romanian Presidency is paying increasing attention to ensuring stability and prosperity in the region by promoting EU values, standards and reforms designed to transform societies to become truly European. Under the Romanian Presidency, the program adopted at the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia, on the 17th of May 2018, continues to be applied. The Romanian presidency at the EU Council aims to pragmatically address the structural causes that threaten the reforms and the democratic transformation of the region. We are organizing a conference on the perspectives of young people in the Western Balkans in May.

- What new can your Presidency add to the Danube strategy, important for both Romania and Bulgaria?

- On the 1st of November 2018, Romania took over the EUSDR for one year from Bulgaria. As the Romanian Presidency of EUSDR partly overlaps with the Romanian EU Council presidency, the slogans of the two Presidencies are synchronized. The motto of the EUSDR's Romanian Presidency is: "The Danube Region: building cohesion for shared prosperity," and the EU Council’s motto is "Cohesion - a common European value." The main objective of the EUSDR's Romanian Presidency is to renew, reintroduce the Strategy into the national policies of the EUSDR Member States, as this would stimulate their more active participation at a technical level.

- It is interesting to understand how and why the wolf was chosen as the logo of the Romanian presidency?

- The logo draws attention to an evolving, self-confident, dynamic EU that, at the same time, remains attached to its core values. The EU is represented by the image of a wolf - an animal that is present in the mythology of most European cultures. The logo also illustrates the EU's commitment to biodiversity conservation. The selection procedure for this logo was created to stimulate young people's participation and expression of their views on the future of the EU, and also to portray Romania's image in the European context. In organizing the competition, the Romanian authorities wanted to convey a message of support for investing in education at a European and national level, and once again underline the fact that Member States are able and need to do more in order to strengthen the cooperation in this area. The concept, developed by a young college student at the Bucharest National College, Ion Luca Caragiale, was enhanced by integrating European symbols into graphic design to ensure a unified visual identity for the promotional campaign launched by Romania for its Presidency at the Council of the EU.

- The motto of the Presidency: "Cohesion - a common European value", sounds very up-to-date...

- Romania's slogan for its presidency at the Council of the EU is "Cohesion, a common European value". As has already been mentioned, it is very important to increase economic and social cohesion by ensuring real convergence and reducing disparities in the development between Member States, regions and citizens. The same goes for the enlargement of successful European policies such as the euro area, the internal market, the cohesion policy and agriculture, which deliver tangible results for the citizens. That is why all EU policies should strictly observe the principle of cohesion between Member States, and the motto "Convergence, common European value" explains this vision. As far as initiatives in this direction are concerned, even before the start of the Presidency - in October 2018, Romania organized a high-level conference on an inclusive cohesion policy for an alliance closer to our citizens. That cohesion policy is essential to achieve convergence across the Union. Such initiatives continue during the Presidency.

The material was provided by the “Standart” newspaperwww.standartnews.com .

Photo: Romanian Embassy