Romanian MEP: National reputation at risk over 2019 EU presidency plans

New EU Affairs Minister Ana Birchall (C) is set to coordinate her country’s chairing of the EU presidency in 2019. It is news that has not been met with universal acclaim. [PSD/ Flickr]

Romanian MEP Cristian Preda has denounced his country’s planned coordination of its stint holding the EU rotating presidency in 2019, insisting Romania’s reputation in Brussels will suffer greatly. EurActiv Romania reports.

Preda (EPP) has voiced his concerns after it came to light that Romanian politician Ana Birchall will coordinate Bucharest’s six month presidency in the first half of 2019.

Birchall is the new government’s minister for EU affairs, a new portfolio created by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeau after his Social Democratic Party (PSD) was sworn into office.

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Preda also took aim at current Romanian Commissioner Corina Creţu in a Facebook post yesterday (10 January), criticising her for “embarrassing” Romania in the European Commission.

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His EPP colleague and fellow countryman, Siegfried Mureșan, also wrote that “if Ana Birchall is EU affairs minister during Romania’s first EU presidency […] I’m afraid she will not cope”. The MEP cited the large workload that comes with the job of EU minister during a presidency.

Neither politicians are members of the PSD and are independent and PMP-affiliated, respectively.

Birchall has been a member of the PSD for 11 years and has served as an advisor to some of the party’s main players, including the former prime minister, Victor Ponta.

The current holder of the EU presidency is Malta, which took over from Slovakia at the beginning of the year.

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Malta on Sunday (1 January) became the smallest country ever to take on the presidency of the Council of the EU.

Estonia, Austria and Bulgaria will take turns setting the agenda of the Council in six month stints before Romania has its first crack at the job from 1 January 2019.

Its time in the limelight will come earlier than expected, after the United Kingdom voted the leave the EU in June, therefore forfeiting its previously allotted slot of the second half of this year.

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