On a visit to Bucharest on Friday, Deputy Minister for EU Affairs Matti Maasikas reaffirmed Estonia's support for Romania joining the EU's Schengen area.
Maasikas praised the discussion and vote in the European Parliament on Wednesday in which MEPs supported the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area, spokespeople for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The European Commission also weighed in positively on the proposal.
According to Maasikas, Estonia also supported these two countries joining Schengen. "It will contribute to closer police cooperation and more effective border controls, which in turn will increase security for all of us," he noted.
Maasikas briefed his Romanian counterpart Victor Negrescu, members of the EU affairs committees of the Romanian Senate and Chamber of Deputies and presidential adviser Leonard Orban on the developments thus far as well as future plans during the current Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union. As Romania will itself assume the presidency in January 2019, they are interested in all aspects of Estonia's experiences, knowledge and lessons learned as the current holders of the presidency, ministry spokespeople said.
Also discussed at the meeting were Brexit and the future of the EU. The officials agreed on the need to preserve the EU's unity and continue the implementation of joint priorities and putting the welfare and security of its citizens at the forefront.
According to Maasikas, a number of key issues are awaiting solutions, such as bringing migration flows under control and asylum policy, cybersecurity, increasing defense cooperation, and the rights and responsibilities of posted workers. "These are issues that affect the daily lives of all Europeans, and we must deal with them in earnest and find solutions to them jointly and together," he said.
Maasikas said that Estonia and Romania's views were similar on many topics, and that the two countries are close allies in both the EU and NATO. Estonia and Romania jointly support the achievement of more concrete results in the Eastern Partnership, stronger defense and security cooperation as well as the development of transatlantic relations.
The officials also discussed EU enlargement and energy policy, migration and other currently salient foreign policy topics, as well as bilateral Estonian-Romanian cooperation.
Together with Romanian Minister-Delegate for European Affairs Victor Negrescu, Minister of the Bulgarian EU Presidency Lilyana Pavlova and President of the European Forum Alpbach Franz Fischler, Maasikas participated in the Aspen Institute Romania's Bucharest Forum 2017 in the discussion on the future of Europe. The Bucharest Forum took place from Oct. 4-6.
Editor: Aili Vahtla