1st Of January 2019 saw Romania take over the EU’s rotating Presidency for the first time.
With EU parliament elections, Brexit and a migration crisis at hand, Romania will help set the agenda for what is expected to be a pivotal moment for the bloc.
Brussels however, has raised doubts about its capacity to lead the block. Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker says he doubts the Romania government can overcome its own internal problems to properly lead the bloc.
“The government of Bucharest has not yet fully understood what it means to preside over EU countries. Prudent action also requires a willingness to listen to others and a willingness to put one’s own concerns in the background. I have some doubts about this. “
Anti-corruption activist Laura Stefan from NGO group ‘Expert forum’ and ex-senior Justice Ministry official agrees adding “Romanian leaders are really obsessed about their own legal problems, about not going to jail. We have seen a government that really only has one priority, that is to keep political leaders out of jail, to keep their fortunes in their pockets, rather than in the state estate. So I think that’s one main concern that EU regards to Romania.”
Romania will hold the presidency until the end of July when Finland will take over.
A rotating presidency
The presidency of the Council rotates among the EU member states every 6 months. During this 6-month period, the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU’s work in the Council.
Member states holding the presidency work together closely in groups of three, called ‘trios’. This system was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The trio sets long-term goals and prepares a common agenda determining the topics and major issues that will be addressed by the Council over an 18 month period. On the basis of this programme, each of the three countries prepares its own more detailed 6-month programme.
The current trio is made up of the presidencies of the Romania, Finland and Croatia.