January 19, 2019
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European Union

Romania takes on Council of EU presidency, Juncker warns of Brexit challenge

Bucharest, Jan 11 (efe-epa).- The president of the European Commission on Friday said Romania should prioritize stability as it takes on the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union for the next six months, in which time the United Kingdom is due to withdraw from the bloc.

Jean-Claude Juncker was in Bucharest alongside Romania's president Klaus Iohannis for a ceremony kick-starting the southeastern European nation's tenure.

"The Romanian presidency should focus on the stability of the EU because the UK is abandoning us," the Luxembourgish politician, who himself is to make way for a newcomer this year, told a press conference.

"I have full confidence that Romanian authorities will know how to coordinate this difficult, and even tragic, stage," he continued.

Juncker said Romania needs to strike consensus and cohesion on a national level in order to confront forthcoming challenges, which also include negotiations for the next budget and European Parliament election, slated for May.

He also underscored the threat of a no-deal Brexit, which he said would be a catastrophe.

The UK parliament was due to vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan, the result of two years of negotiations with Brussels, on Jan. 15.

"We must do everything to ensure that vote does not fail," Juncker said.

Iohannis said the presidency presented Romania with a great opportunity.

"We want to use this privilege to become stronger and to construct a stronger EU," he said. "The European Commission is an essential partner. Romania fully shares the pro-European stance," he added.

He said Romania had confidence in an orderly Brexit.

The UK is due to withdraw from the EU on Mar. 29.

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