Thank you very much for your warm welcome. I am happy to be in Romania and very pleased to have this opportunity to speak at your yearly meeting of ambassadors.
It is a special pleasure for me to visit Romania at this crucial point in your country’s history. Romania has a long and proud European history. While Denmark was historically often at the Northern periphery of major European events and currents, Romania was often in a hot spot: On the border of the Balkans. On the border to the Orient. At the intersection of the Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman empires. And unfortunately for several decades on the Eastern side of the iron curtain which split Europe in two.
Romania is now leaving the shadows of its most recent history behind. The dark chapter of Totalitarianism has been closed. And a new chapter has begun. Great changes have taken place in a short period of time. The agenda of Romania today is about reform, rapid growth, and international cooperation. Romania’s accession to NATO and its recent seat in the UN Security Council are just a few examples.
And today Romania is about to enter the European Union. Since the decision during the Danish EU-presidency in 2002 to maintain Bulgaria and Romania as part of the 5th enlargement of the EU I have had numerous opportunities to meet with my Romanian colleagues – both in Bucharest and in Copenhagen, as well as at meetings of the European Council. In that time Romania has come a long way towards EU membership.
I know that the Romanian government has been working hard to implement the necessary reforms. Denmark therefore looks forward to welcoming Romania in the EU in 2007 once the final requirements have been fulfilled. As you know we are still awaiting the report of the European Commission by the end of September, which will form the basis of the final decisions with regard to Romanian and Bulgarian accession. I expect that the Danish Parliament will ratify the accession treaty by the end of the year.
Like other candidate countries Romania has experienced that the road to EU membership is not a walk in the park. Accession takes great determination and hard work. And so does membership. Some would say that the really hard work starts once membership has been achieved. In that sense accession is not like an exam after which one can relax. It is more like a wedding followed by married life. The wedding is a party, but then comes the everyday life and companionship. It is committing. It is probably productive and fruitful. It may be fun. But it is not always easy. And it doesn’t work without common values and clear common rules.
The hard work, which comes with membership of course, has to do with the character of the EU itself. The European Union is much more than an international organisation. It is about close, institutionalised and committing cooperation. It is about integration. It produces not only statements and declarations like most international organisations. It opens borders and produces detailed legislation common to all Member States, which in turn produces prosperity and solidarity throughout the European continent. This is quite unique. And it does require a very special degree of commitment.
The one thing, which really defines the European Union, however - is that it is a community of values. The members of the European Union share a basic set of values, which are at the core of our cooperation. Values which unite Danes and Romanians, as well as Germans, French, British and all other Europeans. It is democracy. It is civil liberties and human rights. And it is the rule of law.
These common values are at the centre of European Union membership. I am happy to see that Romania embraces these values as strongly as all the present Member States. And I look forward to seeing Romania in the midst of our European family.
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Romania will become member of the most successful experiment on the European continent for centuries. By any standards the EU has been a resounding success. Since World War II, the EU has held principal responsibility for securing freedom and peace, growth and prosperity in Europe. And in recent years, the Internal Market, the Single Currency and most recently the huge enlargement with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have been great successes of the Union.
And yet, we have recently witnessed the Union going through a turbulent period – if not a crisis - after the negative results of the referenda on the Constitutional treaty in France and the Netherlands. The results were a reminder that, while overall the EU has been a huge success we should not take the confidence of our citizens for granted.
Romania is thus entering the Union at a crucial point in the history of the Union. Fundamental questions for the future of the Union are on the table for debate. How do we ensure that citizens support the development of the European cooperation and feel that the EU is of benefit for them? How can we make the Union work effectively with 27 members or more? What should be the future line with regard to continued enlargement of the Union? To me there is little doubt. The results of the two referenda demonstrate that the main task of the Union in the coming years is to deliver concrete results in a number of areas. Visible to our citizens. In recent years the EU has been focussed on its own development. 5 new treaties in 20 years. And from 12 to soon 27 members in the same period of time. Many citizens have a feeling that the EU has been more a matter of institutions, procedures and paragraphs than of specific progress for the benefit of the citizens.
Focussing on concrete results does not mean that we are to abandon the vision of strong and committing cooperation. To the contrary - I believe in a strong and integrated community in the EU. However, the work on achieving specific results must not be overshadowed by airy political projects.
Our citizens want to see a European Union, which delivers results in terms of economic progress, in terms of internal and external security, in terms of environmental protection etc.
The main challenge for the Union in the coming years is exactly that. To deliver concrete results to the benefit of its citizens. Delivering results is absolutely crucial if we want to ensure the support of our citizens. And the support of our citizens is fundamental if we want to continue to develop the Union in face of the many challenges Europe faces.
That is why earlier this year I proposed an ambitious work programme for the Union in the years to come; A programme for a Europe of Results. And I am happy that at the European Council in June we agreed on just that.
As I see it Europe face three important challenges:
Firstly, we need to enable Europe to promote growth and employment - and thereby social security – in the future. We must develop the internal market further with a focus on competition – in areas such as services, energy, and research and development. We must increase our investments in education, research and innovation. These are the drivers of economic growth in the future. And we must combat economic nationalism and protectionism.
The second main task is to ensure the safety and security of citizens vis-à-vis transnational problems. Pollution and international crime don’t know geographic boundaries. There are obvious advantages of dealing with these issues at the EU level. And the Union can do more to prove its worth to the citizens. We must ensure a strong and coherent effort with regard to combating terrorism, organised crime and illegal immigration. We must step up our efforts to ensure food safety. We must do our utmost to protect the environment and face up to the problem of climate change.
The third main task is to strengthen the ability of the EU to pursue the interests of Europeans on the international stage. Over time the economic size and strength of the EU should be better reflected on the international scene. We need more decisions by majority vote in the common foreign and security policy. We need to fully utilise the Commission’s many foreign policy tools.
EU Member States share a common set of values. It is important that we pursue those values together internationally. And it is vitally important that we defend our values and our freedoms against those states and organisations that challenge our beliefs and our way of life. We therefore need to develop and strengthen our strategic partnership with our allies, not least the United States. We have our differences with the US. But the important thing is that there is much more that unite us than what divides us.
I would like to strengthen the transatlantic partnership even further both politically and economically. On the basis of my discussions with President Bush when I visited him in Camp David in June I am convinced that this is a common objective. And I am confident that Romanian membership of the EU will contribute to a strengthened transatlantic partnership.
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In the past, the enlargements of the EU have been the most important foreign policy tool of the Union. It has been a resounding success. Democracy, economic progress, and stability have spread all over Europe to the benefit of both old and new member states. The most recent enlargement of the new ten Member States was nothing less than historic. And with the decisions this fall on Romania and Bulgaria we will have completed the historic 5th enlargement.
The Enlargement of the Union will continue in the years to come. This applies not least to the countries in the Western Balkans. Over the last 15 years, the EU has made a tremendous effort to stabilise the region. It is important that we continue to take our responsibility seriously towards the countries in the Balkans. They are part of Europe.
Membership negotiations with Turkey should also be continued. We must deliver on the promises we have made.
However, that said, it is also obvious that there are limits to the enlargement policy as a stability generating instrument. There are limits to how swiftly and how far the EU can be enlarged if the Union is to maintain its ability to provide solutions to the challenges facing Europe.
Therefore the question of the external borders of the EU is becoming more urgent. I do not believe that it is possible, once and for all, to draw a line across Europe. However, we will have to give far more serious consideration to the capacity of the EU to include new members. This applies in relation to the Union’s decision-making power, to its common policies, and to the support of the Union’s citizens. But it should be done in a way that does not close the door for new members. That would be a mistake.
We will therefore have to make a much greater effort to develop an attractive neighbourhood policy. A policy that offers instruments for reform to countries that may not be considered for membership of the EU in the immediate term, while not excluding it in the longer term. Instruments that improve neighbouring countries ability to cooperate with and thereby bring these countries closer to the Union. I am happy that the Commission and incoming presidencies have begun to develop these thoughts further. And as a new member state Romania will have plenty to offer in these discussions.
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If we succeed in delivering results to the benefit of our citizens and to pursue enlargement in a responsible manner I am confident that we will also be able to solve the question of the fate of the Constitutional Treaty.
Whatever happens it will be extremely difficult to engineer a solution, which will be acceptable to all Member States. As you know 15 – soon 16 – Member States have already ratified the Constitutional Treaty. They are of course very hesitant to change or renegotiate the treaty. It is understandable.
I also continue to believe that the Constitutional Treaty is a very good treaty. I support the treaty. It contains concrete progress in relation to the challenges and tasks facing the EU, which we need to hold on to.
On the other hand large majorities in France and the Netherlands have rejected the same treaty. And let us face reality: The French and Dutch governments cannot be expected to present the same texts to their populations one more time.
We need to make a great effort to find intelligent compromises, which will help bring us forward again. I am confident that the upcoming German presidency will be able to tackle this delicate issue wisely.
It would be premature to say what a clarification of the situation may lead to. Irrespective of how it ends, the challenges facing the EU remain the same. The enlarged EU must be able to function effectively and attend to the interests of Europeans. That is why many of the proposals of the Constitutional Treaty are obviously right and need to be maintained to the greatest possible extent.
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In conclusion, Romania has come a long way towards EU-membership. Much has been achieved during the last years. I am confident that Romania is ready to continue to play a constructive role in the EU. I look forward to closing the last chapter in the 5th enlargement. Together we can develop and strengthen European Cooperation to the benefit of the Europeans. Together we can strengthen our transatlantic partnership and face up to the many challenges we face at the international stage. I very much look forward to welcoming Romania as an active partner and close friend in Europe.