Romania takes over Presidency of the Council of the European Union

On 1 January 2019, Romania will take over from Austria at the helm of the European Council. This will be the first time since the country joined the EU in 2007 that it will hold the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Romanian and EU flags hang side by side in Brussels.

Romania joined the EU in 2007

Photo: Thierry Tronnel/Corbis via Getty Images

Romania’s Presidency marks the start of a new "Presidency Trio". Romania will be followed by Finland for the second half of 2019 and Croatia, which will hold the Presidency for the first six months of 2020. Liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law, human rights and minority rights are core elements of the Trio Programme. These are the values that are the common foundation of the European Union.

The Romanian Presidency will see both the elections to the European Parliament, and in all probability the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU. Romania has set the following priorities for its Presidency:

  • Europe of convergence: growth, cohesion, competitiveness, connectivity
  • A safer Europe
  • Europe as a stronger global actor
  • Europe of common values.

European elections, Brexit and summit in Sibiu

The European Parliament is scheduled to meet in April for the last time before the elections, meaning that ongoing legislative procedures must be finalised swiftly.

Thereafter there will be scope to work on longer-term legislative projects. The agenda also provides for continued negotiations on the multiannual financial framework; these were originally launched during Austria’s Presidency.

At their most recent summit on 13 and 14 December 2018, EU leaders discussed the multiannual financial framework for the period 2021 to 2027. The aim is to reach an agreement at the meeting of the European Council in autumn 2019.

One major event during the Presidency will be the informal European Council meeting to be held on 9 May 2019 in Sibiu, the home town of Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis.

Good economic growth

With a population of 19.5 million, Romania is one of the larger EU member states. It is one of the poorest EU states, but recent economic statistics have been good. Its GDP rose by 7.3 per cent in 2017, which was the highest rate recorded by any EU member state. (More information here on Romania compiled by the Federal Statistical Office)

Close German-Romanian cooperation

During a visit to Romania in August 2018 Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas called for the reform process to be continued,  as well as consistent anti-corruption and a peaceful dialogue between the different political groups in Romanian society. The German Federal Foreign Minister said:

"We are concerned that a dispute over values has been polarising politics and society within Romania for one and a half years. It is not the discussion per se – there must be discussion in liberal democracies. It is the harshness of the debate, which has even led to violent confrontations. I am convinced that it is possible to find the right balance in the separation of powers between the legislative, the executive and the judiciary in the judicial reform, and thus to find a compromise that will bring society together."

One thing is clear. Germany needs Romania as a stable, reliable partner that is committed to shared European values.