By Ioan Bucuraș
“I would like to thank President Iohannis and his entire team for an energetic and successful presidency. You managed to have 90 pieces of legislation agreed in the last 100 days before the European elections, including border protection, reducing CO2 emissions and building a digital Europe. That is impressive! You made good progress on the MFF package. And of course you hosted last month’s EU summit in beautiful Sibiu… a Europe Day that we will always remember. Mulțumesc, Klaus! Mulțumesc România!”
Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, highly praised the great work done during the Romanian presidency. The arduous working capacity and expertise of Romanian diplomats and advisors paid off and the Romanian presidency is being regarded as one of the most efficient ones – at least at technical level.
I still remember the skeptical smirks I received from various governmental affairs experts, lobbyists and officials before the presidency started. Was it probably related to and because of the generally negative image that Romania has, or was it because the governing party adopted a clearly anti-European stance and rhetoric through its MEPs, just before the presidency started? Well, it surely was the latter.
The case they made about Romanians (politicians or citizens) being treated as “the lesser people”, was successfully buried by Tusk during his famous speech delivered entirely in Romanian during the opening ceremony of the presidency in the Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest.
This was further reinforced now, when the former Romanian PM Dacian Ciolos, was elected as president of the newly formed Renew Europe group in the European Parliament – being the first Romanian to have ever headed a group in the Union’s parliamentary institution. To the collective consciousness of the Romanians, this means a lot, as the “2nd class citizen” narrative which was used by the Communists, still haunts the country today, albeit to a much lower extent.
If Finland is not ready to take over the presidency, we may continue
There is great enthusiasm among Romanian officials who contributed to this success story. I spoke to a few of them to get a better picture of what the presidency meant for them.
“It was a unique experience, given the fact that presidencies repeat themselves every 14 years. Being part of a young and dynamic team, I was nervous in the beginning, you know, that typical nervousness that you have of the unknown, because it was our first presidency, but we started at full throttle, with professionalism. The team was prepared and this could be seen and observed from the very beginning” said one Romanian advisor.
“In the blink of an eye, despite the heavy workload, we were halfway through the presidency and now we can’t even realise that the 6 months are over. We would like to continue now, if we could. Maybe if Finland is not ready to take over, we may continue” said another advisor jokingly, beaming with enthusiasm as this is their success story – and the country, and Europe, should be grateful for their service.
As a Romanian citizen myself, I can only hope that one day I’ll be as proud about my government as I am about my fellow Romanians, who showed the Union that we can be entrusted with the highest of responsibilities.
Rumour has it
Speaking of trust and thankfulness, it seems that Romanian President Klaus Iohannis is not entirely rejecting the possibility of taking the reins from Donald Tusk at the end of this year. We’ll learn more about that sooner than later.