It is a real pleasure to be with all of you in Bucharest and I would like to thank Minister Carmen Dan for the fruitful exchanges we had today, just a few weeks before Romania takes up the Council Presidency.
Taking the presidency of the European Union is always both an opportunity and a responsibility.
The European Commission and I personally are here to support Romania to make a success of its first presidency of the EU.
Managing migration better and building a Europe that protects are among the top priorities for the Commission and they are also top priorities for Romania.
These are issues on which we still have important work ahead of us to conclude pending legislative proposals before the European elections next year, and I am confident that the Romanian Presidency will move ahead quickly.
We have made great progress in building a comprehensive European migration policy over the past 4 years.
We now need to find an agreement on the last building blocks, to ensure full EU solidarity on migration and better protection of Europe's external borders.
I will work closely with the Romanian Presidency to advance in the reform of our common asylum system, in order to fight abuses, reduce secondary movements and speed up the assessment of asylum applications.
It is in everyone’s interest to create a level playing field on all asylum rules.
Final agreement and adoption is within reach for almost all pieces of the comprehensive reform, so we must move ahead at once.
We also need to agree on the revised EU rules on return the Commission proposed in September to speed up return procedures, better prevent absconding and irregular secondary movements and increase effective returns in full respect of fundamental rights.
I am glad that strengthening the external borders is a shared priority.
I count on the support of my Romanian colleague to work together to ensure the strengthened European Border and Coast Guard that we proposed in September becomes reality.
Its enhanced operational capacity and powers are needed to effectively support Member States on the ground.
We all know that better protected external borders will allow us to safeguard a Schengen area without internal border controls.
A Schengen area, which I hope Romania will be able to join soon.
Finally, if we want our approach on migration to be a balanced one, we also need to develop legal pathways. I count on the support of the Romanian Presidency to move forward on the new EU Blue card scheme we proposed in 2016, so we can better attract highly-skilled workers according to the needs of our economies.
When it comes to building a secure Europe that protects its citizens, it is the area of our work, which shows the European Union at its best.
Concrete, operational, substantial support to our Member States to help them address challenges which are common, and touch all of us equally.
Whether it is closing down the space in which terrorists and criminals operate OR denying them the money, weapons or explosives to commit their crimes, , OR ensuring that cyberspace is safe:
This is where our citizens demand action and a greater role from the EU.
This is what we are delivering – and I am sure the Romanian Presidency will move ahead quickly on the remaining security files still being discussed.
First, to prevent and remove terrorist content online – an urgent issue.
Second, to make all our migration, borders and security databases interoperable. This is a flagship file which will be the legacy of this Commission AND the Romanian Presidency.
And third, on restricting explosives precursors – all the chemicals that terrorists have been buying from hardware stores and websites to build bombs in their basement.
All of these elements are crucial building blocks to achieve a REAL Security Union – the only answer to overcoming insecurity in Europe.
Romania's Presidency comes at a crucial moment because in 6 months, Europeans will have an important appointment with democracy as each single one of them will be called to go to the polls and elect a new European Parliament.
Ahead of this important moment, it is essential that the EU Member States demonstrate their ability to address common challenges together.
Because the added value that all our efforts on migration, border and security bring, will count twice when Europeans consider whether and how they vote in May for the European elections.
Thank you for your attention.