EP debates amendments to Romania country report
Rompres - 24 November 2004
The members of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday voiced support for Romania's closing EU entry talks this year according to the timescale set and the signing of the Accession Treaty as early as possible next year (most likely on May 9, 2005).
The committee members analysed the draft report on the progress made by Romania on the EU accession path put forward by France's Pierre Moscovici, the new rapporteur on Romania, and said they will follow the entire process closely.
Moscovici said he recommends the closure of the accession negotiations at the end of 2004, the signing of the Accession Treaty as early as possible in 2005 and accession in 2007. This is a political decision that will express the real efforts made by Romania, said Moscovici, a member of the parliamentary group of the Party of European Socialists.
The closure of negotiations this year is correct, he said, adding he was against an amendment putting off the closure of negotiations for 2005. We should assert the need for a safeguard clause and the wish to retain parliamentary control over this period, Moscovici said, while stressing that uncoupling from Bulgaria is not a solution.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Elmar Brok, a member of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) - European Democrats (EPP-ED), set the timescale for the European Parliament's agreement for Romania to sign the Accession Treaty next year. He explained the first exchange of opinions will take place in January 2005, the Parliament will give its approval in April and the Treaty will be signed on May 9. Brok said he will ask the Committee to give the preliminary text of the Treaty as early as possible next year.
It is the moment to support Romania and bring it into the EU family, said baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne, a member of the ALDE Group (the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe). She said she expected Romania to become a member in the first part of January 2007.
Nicholson, the former European Parliament's rapporteur on Romania, stressed she firmly supported the viewpoint that the process must be closed and that the safeguard clause may be used if major irregularities occur.
German Jo Leinen, of the EP Socialist Group, chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, said he had been a member of the committee for Romania ever since 1999 and the country is no longer the way it used to be, as huge progress has been made, the report is excellent and it should be approved. He added that the process should be carefully watched.
In his speech, Dutch MEP Joost Lagendijk of the Group of the Greens said MEPs should be as critical about Romania as it was done with other countries that have become EU members.
I agree that Romania's accession to the EU as soon as possible is to our joint interest, said in turn Hungarian MEP Istvan Szent Ivanyi, a member of the European Liberal Democrat Party. According to him, Romanians should be aware that they must double their efforts, should the report be accepted and the negotiations wrapped up.
Greek MEP of the EPP-ED Group Giorgios Dimitrakopoulos underscored the fact that Romania is an old civilisation and it is part of Europe. Let us not forget that this country has suffered a lot due to one of the worst dictatorships in the past century...If Romania does accede, we only stand to gain from that, Dimitrakopoulos added, saying that figures are not the only thing to be considered.
Hungarian MEP Kinga Gal of the EPP-ED party, born in the northwestern Romanian city of Cluj and a member of the Hungarian opposition Fidesz party, explained that through the tougher amendments she tabled, she wished to make the text tougher, as this is better for the Romanian people.
British MEP of the EPP-ED group Charles Tannock voiced support for the report drawn up by Pierre Moscovici, saying that Romania could join the EU at the beginning of 2007, yet pleading for a much better judicial system.
Matthias Reute, a director with the European Commission, congratulated the rapporteur for Romania, saying that after the alarm bell sounded by Parliament, huge progress was made.