Theme: Monday, July 22, 2013
PM Victor Ponta: Spain has in Romania a very determined ally in European policy for economic growth, job creation, in parallel, of course, with structural reforms, budgetary discipline
Joint press statements by PM Victor Ponta and the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy
Mr. Mariano Rajoy:Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon! It is a great pleasure to come before you, together with Romanian Prime Minister, Mr. Victor Ponta to communicate you what we discussed in the working lunch. It is the first official visit of Prime Minister to Spain, although it is the first time that we meet. We met in Bucharest, in October last year, a meeting that I have a pleasant memory about. The main result of these meetings was to notice that Spain and Romania are strategic partners and therefore, we will intensify bilateral contacts in all fields, including high – level meetings, and which will include participation of more Ministers. I would like to make a specific mention for the Romanian community from Madrid, that counts almost 900.000 persons and that is the largest foreign residents’ community in Spain. Spain is an welcoming and grateful country with those coming in our country to work and contribute for us all to exit crisis. I resumed discussion with Prime Minister Ponta about the potential of our relations regarding investments. Mr. Prime Minister knows very well the effectiveness, professionalism and seriousness of our companies in the areas of infrastructure, energy or telecommunications. I am glad that we could capitalize on the presence of Spanish companies in Romania, whose prestige is recognized in the entire world and is a guarantee for future. Both me and Prime Minister thanked reciprocally for the excellent legal cooperation and problems existing between the two states, and we are convinced that on future too, this cooperation will exist. Regarding the economic crisis, Romania and Spain, alike the majority of EU states are within a process of structural changes, which will allow us to approach the future with better results. The modernization of the European states’ economies through structural reforms is the key to success and the guarantee of our prosperity in the future. Furthermore, Spain and Romania cooperate closely in many areas, cooperation being important in the area of European funds. We reiterated Spain’s desire to share from our successful experience in this area. Regarding the European agenda, we decided on the need for EU to take certain measures to encourage the economic recovery of member states.
I have also appreciated the progress made at the June European Council regarding loans given to SMEs and unemployment among young people.
We agreed on the need to tackle the problem of loans. Regarding foreign policy, our positions coincide, and we congratulated each other. I made a summary of the neighborhood relations and I outlined the importance of maintaining relations between our neighbors in the south and east. We exchanged views related to the Middle East issues and we stated our concern for the situation in Syria and Egypt. Once again, I want to say welcome to Mr. Prime Minister Ponta and give him the floor. Thank you!
Mr. Victor Ponta: Good afternoon. I would like first to thank the President Rajoy for the invitation to visit Madrid and to have this meeting. I was received with great friendship, warmth, and I want to express, on behalf of the Government of Romania and the Romanian people, the great appreciation, friendship and connections that make the relationship between Spain and Romania to be an altogether very special one. I am very happy that after a long period of time, seven years, when these meetings have taken place at the level of heads of government, to establish today together, an ambitious calendar of bilateral relations and I want to believe that Romania , along with Poland, are strategic partners of Spain at the European Union's eastern border. The fact that we have common Latin origins, traditions, culture, and such a strong Romanian community in Spain can only be an element in addition to this special relationship.
From the political point of view, between the two countries, the two governments, there are only initiatives and projects. I want to say that Spain has in Romania a very determined ally in European policy for economic growth, job creation, in parallel, of course, with structural reforms, budgetary discipline, moments and decisions which Romania , like Spain, have adopted lately. I'll want to say, as I see things in Romania, that Spain is a great country, a great people, with great potential, to which Romania, and other countries in Eastern Europe, are looking with admiration, with respect. I strongly believe that the efforts made by the Spanish Government to take the necessary measures of economic relaunch, structural adjustment are necessary measures that ensure a future joint development of Spain, all of Europe and I do not think there can be a strong Europe without your country, strong as it was in recent years. We have many joint economic projects, in fact, from the beginning of this year, first semester, there was already a 14% increase in trade, especially the growth is to the benefit of the exports of Spanish companies to Romania, but this thing does not bother me, on the contrary, I think, more bilateral economic relations, more projects that both Spain and Romania may win from, the better will be for both countries. I assured President Rajoy that all major infrastructure projects, in particular, but also projects in other areas, in which Spanish companies are operating in Romania, are projects on which the Government I am leading, bends with all attention, firms, major Spanish companies with a great experience and a great entrepreneurial training are welcome in Romania. We have over the next period, by the end of the year, only in the rail infrastructure, European projects of over 1 billion euros, and Spanish companies’ expertise is extremely beneficial for Romania to develop this area of infrastructure. We have also tried through the efforts made in recent years to ensure a climate of stability and predictability for the business environment. The fact that Romania, from the beginning of the year, has economic growth has acceptable unemployment level, there are some good signs, but these signs cannot be maintained if there is not, at European level, a common growth policy of greater unity and solidarity. I discussed with President Rajoy that we fully share the same option, for a more united and more cohesive Europe. There cannot be a Europe divided between North and South, between the euro and non-euro countries. Our only chance to survive in the global competition is to be one Europe, more efficient, more pragmatic and more cohesive. There are some particularly important institutional collaborative projects in tax administration in Romania, which is at this point in restructuring procedure, we have important cultural and artistic projects and I want to say once again how important is for Romania the fact that these relations with Spain are not only excellent, but growing.
Finally, Spain is a country very special for Romania, because nearly one million Romanian citizens are living in Spain, work honestly, pay taxes, put their effort in the effort that Spain as a whole makes to regain economic growth and development for years to come. I want to especially thank the Spanish Government, the Spanish people for the example of non -discriminatory integration of Romanians to say that I wish that everyone who came to Spain from Romania to participate in the effort of this country, that we make joint efforts to preserve cultural identity but for a very good integration.
We obviously have an excellent collaboration in terms of less good things to say, illegal acts. I think the cooperation between Spanish and Romanian police is an example of efficiency. I think this cultural identity, this close mentality, the language that unites us, with Latin roots are things that make Spain and Romania not just two partners in Europe and worldwide, but two friends, two countries with a lot in common and a special growth potential.
It was, for me, an opportunity to discuss with President Rajoy all concrete elements - political, economic, integration of the Romanian community - and I have every confidence that, over the next period, these political and economic relations will be reflected in better living standards, in economic development in both countries and joint projects. I want to thank President Rajoy for reception and say that he is always expected in Bucharest with the same warm feelings and the same friendship.
Mr. Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Romanians are working, contribute to the development of this country, but the same Romanians from July 2011 have very drastic restrictions at labor chapter. Is there any chance that until January 1st, when the deadline expires, this restriction to be lifted as it is only a decision of the Spanish Government? (…)
Regarding restrictions on the labor market, January 1 will be the moment when not only Spain but Great Britain and the other countries will lift the last restrictions. I think it is not so important this moment, January 1st, because in compliance with all independent studies we conducted, there is not more at this time a significant number of Romanian citizens who want to go working abroad. There will not be a significant increase neither in Great Britain, Spain or elsewhere. I want to appreciate the fact that Spain, in difficult moments economically, proved to be a welcoming country with Romanians, we had never faced there a problem of discrimination, racism. I think it is an extraordinary sign of the Spanish society’s capacity to be open and I think I very much want that Romanians living here to participate, to contribute to Spain’s effort of economic recovery.
For Romania, the fact that an important dynamic part of the population in Romania – I speak about active people, with good training – are working in Spain, is a reason of pride, but maybe there is a loss for our economy, but a help and a support for the economic recovery effort of Spain, which will be reflected in Romania too, positively. Once again, I tell that Spain proved to be a welcoming country. I hope and I want Romanians living here to do only good things, and those who do bad things, we will sanction them together.
Regarding the question you asked me, you know very well and as I could see, it seems to me that you carefully followed the Spanish political life, and I do not know if you noticed, I come to Parliament, attend all debates, and as you ask, I will answer, as it happened in my previous presentations. Surely, when I speak about this topic, and I always answered anytime they asked me. Yesterday, I spoke with the President of Cortes and I told him that I will put forward a demand to intervene within the Parliament, at the beginning or end of August, with the main objective to explain the situation our country is facing, both economically and with new economic data we know at this date and also the political situation. Surely, and logically, I will speak about what you asked me, especially that I consider it is the right time to see how things will evolve in the future and what is happening with the Government and what the Government will do in the next months.
I have two questions for the President of the Government …
Mariano Rajoy … this crisis and surely, that the citizens will want some explanations. In connection with this issue, as I told your colleague, I will appear before Parliament to give any explanation, because I think there I need to explain these things, I think we should give explanations about what has happened and give them my version, because I believe that Parliament is representative of national sovereignty and therefore the Parliament, there, I will tell you everything I have to say on the subject, as we want to retrieve confidence.
We are for one year and a half term, it was a tough stage, we encountered very strong economic deficit situations, external deficits, economic imbalances, and the economic situation is not good.
I think I made many decisions, some complex, difficult to make, some were not understood by people, but I think I started to have positive data in the Spanish economy. So what am I to do next? I will continue working to serve the general interests of the Spanish people. I would like the Spanish economy to recover soon, and it will happen in the future, and I would like Spaniards to see that all these policies implemented, which they often have not enjoyed, will have positive effects.
Reporter: Two questions: What are the agreements to be signed? For the Prime Minister Ponta. You asked protection measures for the Romanian community in Spain.
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Mariano Rajoy: I did not ask and I will not ask any guarantee from Prime Minister. What I said was that Spanish companies are companies with experience, competitive, willing to work, going to competitions and competing with many other companies in other countries, but what I explained what I knew from many people, is that there are companies that have shown they are competitive. They have worked many years in Spain. Since we joined the EU, we had more cohesion funds, many highways, many roads were built. There has been huge investment in the railway sector. Spanish companies know to do these things, participate in auctions in many countries. We did, for example, high-speed trains between Mecca and Medina; we went to Latin America, in Africa, just as other foreign companies come to Spain. I told the Prime Minister that there are Spanish construction firms or public works companies in the railway, banking, energy that will come into this fight, will help things go well and course, take their benefits, but also contribute to the development and progress of countries and the progress and welfare of Romanian citizens.
Victor Ponta: It is a fact that in major infrastructure projects currently taking place in Romania, Spanish companies, along with those of Italy, have the largest and most important projects. Obviously, the award of contracts is based on European law, but what we guaranteed to the Prime Minister Rajoy is that we have a positive experience so far, in terms of projects already carried by Spanish companies, that bureaucratic obstacles, sometimes legal ones, we have them in mind, we have removed the most. We continue to be informed and take action to remove bureaucratic obstacles.
The fact that we succeeded, after a difficult period for Romania to unblock European funding programs, so that on the one hand to pay debts to companies, including Spanish ones, who have already worked in Romania and we start new projects. When we talked about the projects over one billion euro, in rail infrastructure only – we talk about new projects based on the new European Commission decision to unblock the Transport Operational Programme in Romania - obviously that the projects involve all European companies and the legal regime is equal. It is important, however, for Spanish companies to just know that there is equal treatment, because they are competitive companies, with experience in Romania, and there are, according to all official data, successful projects, especially in infrastructure. I think it is an advantage for Romania to work with Spanish companies. If you ask me about the Romanian community, exactly the fact that in a difficult time as you said, an year and a half, there was no discrimination against Romanians, is more important. The fact that we have special programs, for instance in the area of education, you know we have that project of Romanian language and culture in schools from Spain, through cooperation between the two Governments – is a thing to outline, a positive one. Here depends on the Romanian Government’s capacity to invest more in these programmes. We have all support from the Spanish Government. It is important especially for Romanian children in Spain, to integrate well in society, learn Spanish, without forgetting the country of origin. These are sectoral projects: in education, healthcare. We have a support which we try to approach in a balanced way and the religious communities here, because I know very well what religious tradition means for Romanians too, but the most important is the fact that Romanians integrated well, they are working, they participate in this economic effort, and in Spain, there was never a policy or an idea of discrimination or denigration of Romanians as unfortunately, I have seen elsewhere.
Regarding the first question, I think that what mattered was told. I think that it is high time for me to explain in Parliament the situation and the survey of all actions in that period, so as to clarify some doubts that legitimately appeared in more persons or citizens, to give you an explanation regarding fears concerning the public opinion, and also to see what we do in the future. In these moments, there are multiple opinions. I have been asked many questions in Parliament and Senate, and here, nobody asked about this. They did not ask me during the debate of the situation, and those who had the opportunity to ask me, I answered everything I was asked, regarding this problem, but, in any case, I think it is a good time to make a survey of the situation and to clarify some ambiguities of the citizens. Regarding whether or not I was influenced by the non – confidence vote, not, not at least. The non – confidence vote can take place in any moment of legislature. I did not present any vote of confidence at the right moment, as I did not think it is convenient, therefore, there is no problem in this respect. Only that I understood that because of doubts that many Spanish citizens may have, I should give explanations in the Spanish Parliament.
Regarding the second question, I would like to integrate the answer in an ampler context.
In a moment of economic and political difficulty for Spain and especially of political difficulty, I think that the renovation of the Constitutional Tribunal was done well, and it was well that it was done; I think it was good it was renovated, both as term and form. It was an agreement, a majority agreement between the persons making it. The decision was adopted by the general Council of judicial powers on the same day.
Tow of the council were appointed and all appointments were made on the same day, in due time, because I have to remind you that the next day, on Saturday, the other members’ mandate expired, and this was not easy. You very well know that in other circumstances, it was difficult for us to reach all an agreement. I think that in such cases, things were well done and the President of the Constitutional Tribunal – and I have to remind that Madam Vice-President was elected in unanimity, and the plenary of the Constitutional Tribunal, last week, expressed a clear position unanimously in this matter and this position is the same I have, and I think it is not good to make other comments on this problem.
I want to tell you that I share the opinion of the plenary which was adopted last week. Thank you!