For the first time, Romania is chair of the EU for six months. From 1 January to 1 July, the former Eastern Bloc country that joined the EU in 2007 determines the agenda and sets the priorities.
The Romanians take over the baton from Austria. The Minister for European Affairs, George Ciamba, counts on “an intense period” by the British departure from the EU (Brexit) on 30 March and the European elections in late May. Negotiations on a new multi-annual budget from 2021 to 2027 will also be stepped up.
In May, Bucharest will organize a special summit in the city of Sibiu on the future of the EU. The 27 leaders will determine the political strategy for the coming years.
Moreover, Romania has been a member of the European Commission’s supervisory program because of shortcomings in the rule of law, but is rather behind than ahead. Vice-President Frans Timmermans thinks the situation is “distressing.” “It is essential that Romania immediately gets back on the right track with the fight against corruption and guarantees an independent judicial system”, he said in November. He also pointed out the importance of a free press.