President Iohannis in EP, debate on support for #Ukraine, Schengen outlook, rule of law state

MEPs who attended the plenary sitting of the European Parliament on Wednesday thanked the president of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, for his support to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion, and also promised him support for Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area as a full member. On the other hand, there were also MEPs who raised the issue of corruption in Romania or the issue of forest protection, told Agerpres.

The leader of the European People’s Party (EPP), Manfred Weber, appreciated in his intervention that the Romanian president showed proof of “leadership in the best way” when he increased defence spending up to 2.5% of GDP. He also said that “Romania is a success story after joining the EU.”

“Romania and Bulgaria must fully accede to Schengen, it is good for business, it is good for our citizens,” said the German MEP, who was only the first of the speakers to express their support for the full accession of the two countries to the free movement area.

In her turn, French MEP Valerie Hayer, from the Renew Europe group, also gave assurances in her intervention that the political group she belongs to will fight in the European Parliament for the lifting of land controls for Romania and Bulgaria.

“I welcome Romania’s contribution to the defence of Ukraine. I am glad that these two countries are on the road to the EU,” she said, referring to both Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.

MEP Nicu Stefanuta, from the Green group, drew the attention of president Iohannis to the challenges faced by young people in Romania today.

“Let’s put the future of young people at the core of our efforts in politics. Young people need to be heard, helped, listened to. I want us to fight together for a Romania that offers young people affordable housing, stable jobs, health services, including mental health,” said Stefanuta in his speech.

Stefanuta also drew attention to the danger of the growth of extremism in Romania: “Young people do not want to live in a country with extreme right-wing power. That is why I ask you, Mr. President, not to allow a fascist government in Romania,” pleaded Nicu Stefanuta.

For his part, German MEP Beck Gunnar, from the Identity and Democracy group, said that Romania is one of the countries that benefited the most from EU funds, although it has the index of the second most corrupt country in the European Union.

Rares Bogdan, from the EPP group, told the MEPs that they listened to the speech of “a man with a European vocation.”

“This is Romania, the most important country for security on the Black Sea and one that has a 650 km border with Ukraine,” added the PNL (Romania’s National Liberal Party) MEP.

“President Iohannis is a balanced and rational head of state, deeply European, a president who admirably balanced the interests of his country with those of Europe”, he also appreciated.

MEP Maria Grapini, from the Renew Europe group, asked President Klaus Iohannis if he likes the way Europe looks and if he doesn’t think more could be done to transform it. Among the things that need to be improved, she mentioned the single European market and the Common Agricultural Policy.

Dacian Ciolos, from the Renew Europe group, said in his intervention that Romania has “all the different types of elections [this year – editor’s note] and that this can lead to the total reset of the political establishment.”

“You have the duty to communicate to the citizens of Romania the importance of our European membership,” Ciolos also conveyed to the Romanian head of state.

German MEP Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg, from the Green group, asked Klaus Iohannis to do more to protect Romania’s forests and those who try to bring to light the problems in the illegal logging sector.

Tudor Ciuhodaru, from the S&D group, told the President of Romania that “we are concerned with crises and global solutions, but we have forgotten about the people around us.”

“The grievances of the Romanians are more and more numerous and related to their everyday life. Mr. President, we could have done more for the Romanians and for Romania. I think this is a moment when we have to reconnect with the people’s problems,” stated Ciuhodaru.

PNL MEP Siegfried Muresan also addressed president Iohannis: “You have always showed a strong support for Ukraine, you have ensured stability in the region and you have led European efforts to support the Republic of Moldova. You have helped Europe to understand that we are safe only if our neighbours are also safe.”

“As pro-Europeans, we will continue to offer solutions and tell people that extremism is not a solution to the challenges we face. That is what we stand for as a pro-European majority here in the European Parliament. It is also what we are prepared to we achieve together with you in the coming years,” Muresan said.

Bulgarian MEP Tsvetelina Penkova, from the S&D group, also approached the Schengen accession issue.

“Bulgaria and Romania meet all the criteria for a full accession to the Schengen Area. However, because of some political interests, we are being kept outside the Schengen door, which means that our citizens are being treated as second-class citizens. A partial access is not a success for our countries. So we want to know what are the concrete steps that you are considering to make next together with Bulgaria? This discrimination must stop,” the Bulgarian MEP said.

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