The Romanian Community in Brussels, the Capital of the European Union, is the Second Largest One
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the “The World of Romania” project, occasioned by what you define as the “(Inter)National Maturing Centennial of the Romanian Society and Statehood”.
2018 is an important year for Romania, with a symbolic weight for the entire Romanian society, including the Romanian community here in Brussels. 2018 marks 100 years since the Great Union, and also 140 years since the proclamation of our country's independence. The Centennial, one of the most significant anniversaries in our history, represents a time for reflection, paying a tribute to the past and honouring it, but also an opportunity to look into the future with confidence.
The Romania on which this Centennial dawns is a historically mature country, which has strong cultural and economic ties with its neighbours and EU partners, actively involved in strengthening the European project and, at the same time, a reliable partner within NATO. 10 years after joining the European family, Romania is active in the European decision-making process, and we are looking forward to holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, from the 1st of January 2019.
We are in full process of preparing the Presidency which requires an important administrative effort and a good coordination at inter-institutional level. The ability to present balanced solutions in order to facilitate, as much as possible, the consensus at EU level is at the core of an effective Presidency.
The Presidency of the Council of the EU represents a turning point with a symbolic weight for our country. For six months, we will be focusing on solutions, on making decisions which are relevant to our citizens. The Presidency is about responsibility and common interest. It is about our citizens and values. It is also about unity, solidarity and a common future. We have to deal with many challenges related to the major issues such as Brexit and the Multiannual Financial Framework post 2020 and we, the EU as a whole, are ready to face them. We have shown that united we can face any difficulty and find solutions to move forward.
The main mission of our diplomatic Representation here in Brussels is to promote the interests of Romania in different fields, such as economy, foreign policy, justice and home affairs etc. Besides coordinating our position with EU institutions and Member States, the dialogue with the Romanians living and working in Brussels is equally important to us.
I am delighted to say that we have an active Romanian presence in the EU institutions, the statistics showing that almost 1.300 Romanian civil servants work there, our country ranking 8th in the Union. Their presence here, in the heart of the European Union, is an added value to the overall EU decision making process and shows the level of professionalism and commitment to the EU project. Furthermore, the Brussels region is home to 179 different nationalities, altogether more than 400.000 people, out of which 66% come from EU member states. According to the latest statistics, the Romanian community in Brussels is the second largest community after the French one.
On a more personal note, I confess that I have a very special, personal connection with Brussels – this is the place where I gained important EU experience, working as a diplomat in the Romanian Mission to the EU, between 2002-2007. Back then, I had the privilege to be part of the team which contributed to the preparation process for Romania's accession to the European Union. Since September 2015, I have had the honour of being the Permanent Representative of Romania to the European Union and I am confident that together with my colleagues we contribute to a successful Presidency of the Council of the European Union, in 2019.
My expectation is that the Romanian Presidency will be recalled as a reference point in the debate that shapes the future of a Europe that is stronger, more united and convergent. I am optimistic and I believe that the fundamentals of the European project are as solid as they were in Rome, 61 years ago, when Europe opted for peace and shared values.