ROMANIA: Ciolos Nominated for Agriculture Commissioner
30.11.2009 Politics | Romania | SE Countries in EU
EC chief defends decision, saying Dacian Ciolos was the most qualified for the job. Bucharest welcomes the nomination as important achievement for the country.
Romania’s former agriculture minister Dacian Ciolos was nominated on Friday for the agriculture commissioner post by European Commission chief Jose Manuel Durrao Barroso, in a surprising move praised by Bucharest and several European officials.
Romania’s chances to get the agriculture portfolio, one of the most significant in the European Commission, which has a large budget to manage, had grown dim as of late, amid criticism of the country’s corruption and doubts that if can effectively handle a third of the executive’s budget (about EUR 50 bln). In the context, it was speculated that France had withdrawn its support for Romania in favour of Ireland getting the agriculture post.
Barroso, who on Friday unveiled the line-up of his new commission, defended his choice to name Ciolos on the post, underlining that the Romanian had the best resume for this position. His comment came when asked to comment how come Romania got the agriculture portfolio, given that the country had suspended funds in the field. “What you said is an insult to a country. And to a person,” Barroso told the reporter who asked the question. “We have a principle in Europe, that of non-discrimination. So, saying that somebody cannot get a certain portfolio because they come from a certain country is against our values,” he added.
The EC head underlined that he was very happy to have nominated Ciolos for the position. “He is by far the most competent name of all the nominations I got for this portfolio,” he said. Barroso added that Ciolos has an impressive resume and has worked in the field almost his entire life. The nomination was also welcomed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who called it a “victory” for France and “our Romanian friends.”
Ciolos, 40, is a specialist in agriculture and agronomy and has worked in the field both in the country and abroad. He was minister of agriculture in 2007-2008, after which he became head of a presidential commission on agriculture strategies.
He is not member of any political party in Romania, but he is part of the European Peoples’ Party group.
After the nomination was announced, Ciolos said in a joint press statement with President Traian Basescu at Cotroceni Palace that he was “the result of Romania’s chance to join the European Union.” He added that his nomination is proof that a candidate from Romania can benefit from Europe’s confidence and get an important portfolio.
“I am happy I have the chance to bring my professional and intellectual contribution to this European construction Romania joined. I hope I can prove that I am able to assume this important portfolio,” he said. Ciolos also voiced hope that the European Union’s common agriculture policy will remain one of the most important pillars of the European construction and that during his term as commissioner, it will be able to develop significantly.
In turn, President Basescu welcomed Ciolos’s nomination as “the signal of trust Romania needed to confirm its position inside the EU.” The head of state said the nomination could also be a signal “as to the need of adjusting the common agriculture policy after the accession of the last 12 states,” in the context in which Ciolos is seen as a reformist who can bring important changes to this field. “It is obvious that the joint agriculture policy must be reviewed and adapted to these new realities. The 12 states that joined the EU in the last few years are motivation to review this policy,” Basescu said.
The president added that the nomination is also a “diplomatic success” and underlined that Ciolos was supported “not only by the presidency and the government, but also by parliamentary parties.”
In comments later on Friday during a meeting with Agriculture Producers’ Association representative at his campaign headquarters, President Basescu voiced confidence that Ciolos has all the chances to obtain the European Parliament’s vote of confidence. “Of course, anything can happen at a hearing, but Ciolos is appreciated in Brussels and especially by the European Parliament’s agriculture committee, and that makes him a candidate without problems,” Basescu said.
The nomination was welcome by several Romanian officials, but also by the country’s first EC member, Multilingualism Commissioner Leonard Orban, who said he would help Ciolos prepare for EP hearings in January, an essential step ahead of facing the assembly’s vote.
Acting PM Emil Boc said the nomination was a real success of the president’s office, the government and the parties and proves that “when we manage to speak in one voice, we manage to promote our national interest.” Senate Speaker Mircea Geoana, with whom Ciolos had a meeting on Saturday evening, said the nomination was an international success which could stand for the beginning to Romania’s efforts to regain international influence. All major political party leaders, including Liberal Crin Antonescu, Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, Social-Democrats and Conservatives, along with ex agriculture ministers and current members of Boc’s cabinet welcomed the nomination as a great victory for Romania.
The new Commission’s political composition reflects the outcome of the June European elections, when centre-right parties did especially well. The list of nominees is as follows: High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security - Lady Ashton (UK - S&D), Competition - Joaquin Almunia (Spain - S&D), Economic and Monetary Affairs - Olli Rehn (Finland - ELDR), Internal Market and Services - Michel Barnier (France - EPP), Trade - Karel De Gucht (Belgium - ELDR), Energy - Guenther Oettinger (Germany - EPP), Environment - Janez Potocnik (Slovenia - ELDR), Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion - Laszlo Andor (Hungary - S&D), Budget - Janusz Lewandowski (Poland - EPP), Enlargement - Stefan Fuele (Czech Republic - S&D), Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship - Viviane Reding (Luxembourg - EPP), Maritime Affairs and Fisheries - Maria Damanaki (Greece - S&D), Regional Policy - Johannes Hahn (Austria - EPP), Climate Action - Connie Hedegaard (Denmark - EPP), Research and Innovation - Maire Geoghegan-Quinn (Republic of Ireland - ELDR), Transport - Siim Kallas (Estonia - ELDR), Health and Consumer Policy - John Dalli (Malta - EPP), International Co-operation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response - Rumiana Jeleva (Bulgaria - EPP), Digital Agenda - Neelie Kroes (the Netherlands - ELDR), Development - Andris Piebalgs (Latvia - EPP), Home Affairs - Cecilia Malmstroem (Sweden - ELDR), Industry and Entrepreneurship - Antonio Tajani (Italy - EPP), Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud - Algirdas Semeta (Lithuania - EPP), Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration - Maros Sefcovic (Slovakia - S&D), Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth - Androulla Vassiliou (Cyprus - ELDR).
Source: Nine o'Clock