S&Ds call on the incoming Romanian Presidency to treat election interference as a top-priority
S&D Group president Udo Bullmann is in Bucharest on November 21, along with other political groups’ leaders and European Parliament President Tajani (Conference of Presidents), for a presentation of the priorities of the incoming Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, which starts on 1 January 2019. Ahead of the meeting, Udo Bullmann stated:
“I am looking forward to hearing and discussing with the Romanian government the priorities for the upcoming presidency in Bucharest. The Romanian government takes over the Presidency at a very delicate moment in time. With the historical 2019 European elections only a few months away, there will be a lot of pressing topics on the table – from Brexit and the continued threat of interference in elections to the next Multiannual Financial Framework. The task for the next Presidency is particularly big given that the current Austrian presidency has failed or refused to make progress in many important areas. Therefore, we Socialists and Democrats will state clearly in Bucharest that we expect momentum on a number of key issues and stand ready to work with the Presidency in order to achieve this.
“Most notably, we have to tackle the threat of massive digital interference in the European elections. We must ensure that the elections in May 2019 take place in a fair manner and prevent third parties from undermining people’s free will using algorithms and fake news. We are happy to work together with the Romanian Presidency to make this a top-priority and enhance the pressure on social networks to come up with serious proposals on how to prevent disinformation.
“Moreover, we urgently need to see a follow-up on the Article 7 procedures against Hungary and Poland. In both cases, the European Parliament has made clear that it will not accept the consistent and sustained attacks on the basic principles of EU membership. However, the Austrian Presidency led by Chancellor Kurz has done little to act on our call. To the contrary, Chancellor Kurz seemed to do a lot to block meaningful progress in the Council on Orbán’s behalf. These delaying tactics must come to an immediate end.
“We are looking forward to also hearing the Romanian government’s plan for finalising the negotiations on the next EU budget. The European Parliament has sent a clear message to member states by voting a budget for change, and we plead for quality over speed in this respect. We are also happy to work together with the Romanian presidency for an ambitious social agenda to implement the Social Pillar, for a reform of the Eurozone and for progress on fair taxation to ensure a more socially just Europe.
“Against the background of the incoming presidency and the discussion about rule of law in Romania, we once again stress the importance of Romania remaining on a positive European path. We welcomed the commitment taken by the Romanian Prime Minister while addressing the European Parliament in September to follow the Venice Commission’s recommendations. We now expect the recommendations to be implemented in full. We have made clear that our Group will always be at the forefront in the fight for democracy and the rule of law, regardless of the country or government. This will be recalled in our conversations in Bucharest.”