Romanian president champions European unity, opposes veto system in European Parliament speech
Romanian president Klaus Iohannis gave a speech in the plenary of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, February 7, during which he approached subjects like European unity, the war in Ukraine, and his opposition to the veto system in the EU decision-making process.
The speech was part of the “This is Europe” debate. Iohannis was invited by the president of the European legislative, Roberta Metsola.
“I want to reaffirm my and the Romanian people's confidence in the value of united and solidary European action, in the undeniable power of ‘a single Europe'. The effects of the pandemic, Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, and the conflict in the Middle East are just a few of the dramatic developments that have tested us in recent years, not just our response capacity, but also our sincere commitment to the Union and to the values and principles that hold us together. Ladies and gentlemen, my country is probably one of the best examples of the transformative power of the European Union. Membership has brought us undeniable and concrete benefits. European funds that have entered Romania since our accession have allowed us to carry out essential infrastructure projects,” Iohannis said in front of the European Parliament, cited by Digi24.
He also noted that the EU means “a space of safety, protection, prosperity, and diversity,” and a “space of free movement.” On this occasion, the president argued that Romania must be made a full member of the border-free Schengen area as soon as possible.
Klaus Iohannis also talked about the challenges facing the EU, namely the war in Ukraine, the conflict between Hamas and Israel in the Middle East, and the Houthi raids on commercial vessels in the Red Sea. He also mentioned climate change and illegal migration.
“Strengthening our internal resilience is a fundamental condition for a stronger Union and for its increased geopolitical role. [...] It means developing sectoral policies, such as technology, including in terms of artificial intelligence, combating climate change, and boosting competitiveness through industrial production and sustainable supply chains. I am convinced that the success of the efforts in these areas depends on a strong Single Market, which can offer solutions to many of the problems we face, encouraging creativity and widespread development,” the Romanian president said.
Security was also a topic of interest in the president’s 20-minute speech. “We are strongly involved in supporting Ukraine, as well as the Republic of Moldova, severely affected by the crisis in the region. Furthermore, we must continue to focus on security. We are now moving towards joint, long-term planning, and increased convergence in the field of European security and defense."
Iohannis also came out as a champion of EU enlargement and the simplification of decision-making at the EU level. He argued for the removal of the veto and his preference for qualified majority voting on certain issues. In this way, the president hinted at Hungary’s opposition to the EU aid package to Ukraine, or Austria’s sole opposition to including Romania in the Schengen area.
"It is not acceptable that one member is using a veto to stop all of us helping others," Klaus Iohannis told the MEPs.
The "This is Europe" series of debates within the European Parliament was initiated in 2022, shortly after the outbreak of the war against Ukraine. From 2022 to 2023, 12 such meetings with European leaders took place, with the aim of reaffirming European values and unity, strengthening democratic debate on current topics, and generating a consistent vision regarding the future of the European project.
(Photo source: Klaus Iohannis on Facebook)