EU Romanian Presidency

On 1st January Romania took over the Presidency of the European Council, which it will hold until the end of June.  We have therefore decided to highlight in this week’s newsletter the main priorities of the Romanian work programme that are of relevance for the construction industry and for FIEC. For more information on the Romanian Presidency the website can be accessed by clicking on the button below.



The Digital Agenda

As regards the digital chapter, the Romanian Presidency identifies, amongst others, the following priorities:
  • Promoting Council conclusions aimed at encouraging a long-term vision for the EU’s industrial policy, under the angle of digital transformation and artificial intelligence, as they are the main factors that will define 2030’s industrial policies.
  • Encouraging debates on the opportunities and challenges of artificial intelligence and the development of digital skills, with a view to reducing digital gaps.
  • promoting a smart economy and enterprises’ mobility by updating the EU’s company law through the directive on the “use of digital tools and processes in company law“.



The Economic Agenda

As regards the economic chapter, the Romanian Presidency identifies, amongst others, the following priorities:
  • Defining the main principles of the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, which is supposed to be agreed upon by autumn 2019; the future EU budget should provide the Union with the resources it needs to achieve its many objectives for the next seven years.
  • In particular, the Romanian Presidency will focus on the negotiations on the post-2020 Cohesion Package, with a view to stimulating greater economic and social convergence across the entire Union.
  • It will also ensure continuity in the implementation process for the 2019 European Semester, which will end with the adoption of Country-Specific Recommendations in June 2019.
  • Continuing efforts to modernise the VAT system; although the “reduced VAT rates” and the “VAT and SMEs” proposals – the most relevant ones for FIEC – do not seem to be high on the agenda…
  • Advancing negotiations on the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF 2.0), with the aim of funding infrastructure and related projects under CEF to support the objectives of developing the Trans-European Transport network (TEN-T).
  • In particular, the Romanian Presidency will aim at advancing the negotiations on the proposal for a “Smart TEN-T” Regulation, which will streamline the project authorisation process and consequently accelerate the implementation of TEN-T Priority Projects.
  • It will also continue negotiating the three mobility packages, with the aim of finalising the “Road Infrastructure Safety Management” file; however, the “Eurovignette” and “driving times / tachograph” proposals – also very relevant for FIEC – do not seem to be high on the agenda…
  • Regarding the Internal Market for goods, the Presidency will aim to complete the legislative files on “compliance and enforcement of Union harmonisation legislation on products” and on “mutual recognition”.
  • Finally, the Presidency will organise debates on the opportunity of revising and updating the Small Business Act for Europe, in order to adapt it to the digital era.



The Social Agenda

As regards the social chapter, the Romanian Presidency identifies, amongst others, the following priorities :
  • Promoting the labour mobility principle as a driver for competitiveness on the single market; this will include a focus on cooperation between public employment services and labour inspectorates in the Member States, with the main objectives to mitigate the risk of discrimination and undeclared work.
  • Continuing the negotiations on the proposal for revising the Social Security Regulations 883/2004 and 987/2009, aiming to find a solution that is fair, non-discriminatory and in line with the fundamental objective of free movement.
  • Exploring the best options for defining the roles and responsibilities of the future European Labour Authority and completing the negotiations on this file.
  • Preventing workplace risks and ensuring safer and healthier working conditions, by amongst other things, continuing the negotiations on the proposals to amend the “Carcinogens” Directive 2004/37/EC.
  • Providing equal opportunities for women and men on the labour market, by reducing the pay gap between women and men and by implementing measures to help workers maintain a balance between family and professional life.
  • The “Connecting Education” initiative will be a central theme of the Romanian Presidency and will be based on 3 major dimensions: mobility, inclusion and excellence. It will include a proposal for a Regulation on the Erasmus+ Programme with the aim of increasing the mobility of pupils, student, teachers and administrative staff, as well as of promoting European values through education. Special attention will be given to establishing and developing European universities’ networks and centres of excellence in vocational and technical education.



The Technical and Environmental Agenda

As regards the technical and environmental chapters, the Romanian Presidency identifies, amongst others, the following priorities:

  • Reduce research and innovation performance gaps between EU Member States, by increasing participation in the Horizon Europe programme. Although any attempt to improve participation is welcome, this approach, focused on country participation rates does not particularly help to address the gaps in participation according to industry.  Efforts to tackle the latter might be more relevant to the construction sector.
  • In advancing negotiations on the above, the Romanian Presidency is aiming to facilitate a fair, accessible, transparent and efficient framework, which will simplify access for participants.  As FIEC believes that current rules deter participation of contractors, this is welcome.
  • Following up the Paris Agreement to encourage climate change actions. Apart from tackling emissions from road transport and the maritime sector, the programme does not propose specific measures, taking a rather broad approach, focused on a shared EU vision on a long-term strategy.
  • Working on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which gives the framework for global, national, regional and local development.
  • The above will include work aimed at finding innovative solutions for consumption and production, which is an issue for construction as the industry uses vast amounts of materials and natural resources.
  • The programme also emphasises the sustainable management of chemicals, promoting in particular the EU’s vision on the interface between chemicals and waste.
  • Stepping up action on waste plastic, which is threatening water and marine environment quality.