The replacement of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on July 1, 2020 brought significant expectations for the better in Moldova’s immediate vicinity. The Moldovans, who during 30 years got used to expectations and hopes, which were often dashed, can profit from the experience of significant transformations so that they make changes at home and improve living conditions. At the same time, Moldova is an associate of the EU and this means the transformations in the EU, either good or bad, definitely affect citizens’ lives in a direct way. These aspects were discussed by renowned experts from Moldova and abroad in a public debate entitled “Germany’s Presidency of Council of EU: impact on Europe, impact on Moldova”, which was staged by IPN News Agency.
Dionis Cenușa, a political scientist, researcher at the Institute of Political Sciences at Liebig-Justus University in Giessen, said that Germany took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU that is a European institution represented by the 27 national governments. “On July 1, the Croatian presidency that lasted for six months was replaced by the German one. This is the initiation of a series of presidencies called the presidency trio that includes, alongside Germany, Portugal and Slovenia,” stated Dionis Cenușa, IPN’s senior contributor.
According to him, in 2009, when the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force, it was decided that the Council of the European Union should have a broader representation of the member states. “Consequently, starting with 2009, we have had the presidency trios that represent a pragmatic, coordinated approach of three member states. In this case, we speak about Germany that started on July 1 and will be replaced by Portugal and Slovenia. These three countries will govern the Council of the European Union during the next 18 months. Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU will actually help to coordinate the activities at all the levels of the Council, which will include discussions between ministers in charge of different areas, depending on portfolios – agriculture, foreign policy, etc. Germany will coordinate a part of the brains of the European institutions during six months, evidently in close cooperation with the European Commission and the European Parliament, given that no decision is now adopted without the consent and participation of the European Parliament,” explained Dionis Cenușa.
Ion Tăbârță, expert in international relations, said that a state like Moldova, of small dimensions, which tends to a European future, always orients itself to the large, influential states that decide in the EU. Moldova has European aspirations as a state. “Yes, we can speak about particular societal division in the Republic of Moldova on the East and West segment, but we yet see that a large part, the majority of our society wants a European course. In this European course, we need the support of those who are influential, of the states with weight in the European Union. This does not mean that other states are not important. Evidently, all the states are important in the European construct, but we know very well that there are states that simply promote the European project and the European construct, while Germany is probably the EU’s driving force,” stated the expert.
He noted that after 2010, when the governments of Moldova declared the European course as the main orientation, the number of bilateral high-ranking visits between Chisinau and Berlin increased, especially in 2010-2015, when Moldova was the ‘success story’ of the EaP. There was also the historical visit paid by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2012. Germany, unlike the other European states, is interested in the Eastern border and always devoted attention to the states in this area. Germany has weight for the EaP countries in the European policy.
Ex-director of the European Academy Berlin Eckart Stratenschulte, professor at the Free University of Berlin, said sometimes Germany’s Presidency is overestimated. It is really important, but not decisive as Germany is not the EU’s capital. The EU’s engine is fueled by four very important European organs: the European Council, which represents all the heads of state; the European Commission; the European Parliament, and the Council of the European Union. Germany’s six-month presidency covers all the community areas, except for politics, as the Foreign Affairs Council is chaired by the minsters of foreign affairs. In practical terms, Germany manages the meetings of the Council of the EU, but cannot adopt decisions by itself. Each country has its own position and this should be taken into account.
As regards Germany’s program for the immediate period, this will center on Europe’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and refers to a more innovative, durable and sustainable Europe. It also refers to security, supremacy of the law and common values. All these should be achieved during a very short period of six months. “In fact, the presidency program is of four months and a half as August is the leave period and after December 15 also nothing happens. These are very general, but ambitious priorities,” stated Eckart Stratenschulte.
The German professor noted that the agenda of Croatia’s presidency that preceded Germany’s presidency initially didn’t include the fight against COVID-19 and the real agenda was therefore written based on the happening historical changes. “Germany is a very important country for the European Union as, first of all, it is the largest country of the EU in terms of population as well. Secondly, it is the most powerful country in terms of economic development and the results achieved in this regard. There is also the German Chancellor who has experience and knowledge and knows a lot about trade. Yes, Germany is an important player, but this has nothing to do with the quality of the presidency as the biggest problems and issues are decided at the level of heads of state and government,” said Eckart Stratenschulte.
The debate “Germany’s Presidency of Council of EU: impact on Europe, impact on Moldova” was the 142nd installment of the series of debates “Developing political culture through public debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.