Addressing a one-day "Relaunching Europe" conference in Bucharest organized by the Socialist and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, Mr. Dragnea urged the EU to move beyond discussions within regional and other sub-groups, such as the original founding members or the Visegrad Group.
"Relaunching the European Union must start from its citizens, to consider and pursue the welfare of its citizens and the freedom of its citizens," he said.
Mr. Dragnea warned that a dialogue about the EU's future would have no impact unless accompanied by strong measures to fight poverty and insecurity among many Europeans. "Increasing poverty in recent years in Europe is the main threat to EU unity," he said.
In recent days, the PSD, the largest party in Romania, has unveiled an election platform designed to pull large numbers of Romanians into the middle class. The program calls for major income tax decreases and the elimination of some 102 "non-fiscal taxes" -- various charges and fees for routine state documents and licences. Parliamentary elections in Romania are scheduled for Dec. 11.
Mr. Dragnea said the plan anticipates the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs over the next four years, with a major emphasis on improving the prospects for young people. Among other plans, he listed:
- Measures to raise the incomes of more than 1 million citizens above €1,000 month.
- A reduction in the unemployment rate by at least 3.5%.
- A reduction of 1.5 million in the number of citizens facing poverty or social exclusion.
- Reductions of at least 15% in the disparities between urban and rural development.
Describing Romania as the "most pro-European of the 28 member states," Mr. Dragnea said, "Romanians fought for full European recognition not for 26 years but for 200 years, and the European tradition in Romania is relevant in the reconstruction of Europe. This tradition is as valuable as the values and principles which define today's European standards. We are, therefore, a contributor to solidarity and are convinced that the European society that we want relaunched as soon as possible, including Romania, will prove this."
The PSD program was praised by Socialist and Democrats Group president and Italian MEP Gianni Pittella, who called the proposed elimination of the 102 fees and charges "salutary measures from which Europe has a lot to learn."
Mr. Pitella said he and Mr. Dragnea, who met earlier in the day and addressed a joint press conference, shared "the idea that the Romanian state should assume greater responsibility in terms of its own citizens, primarily through the creation of well-paid jobs and major investments in the economy."
He singled out a PSD plan to create a sovereign investment fund to channel investment more actively to revive the economy and create more than 40,000 new jobs. He cited a similar program in Italy.
"While right-wing governments have led to periods of economic depression and poverty in the population in Romania, PSD has meant periods of growth and prosperity for every citizen," Mr. Pitella said.
About the Social Democratic Party of Romania
The PSD, in Romanian "Partidul Social Democrat", was originally formed in 1992 as a party of the center-left and is currently the largest grouping in both the lower and upper houses of the nation's parliament, while also controlling more than half of the mayoralties and over 65% of local and county councils, including the capital of Bucharest. The PSD paved the way for Romania's historic accession process into the EU in 2007, and today holds 16 of the country's 32 MEPs. Its 2012-15 government was considered one of Romania's best, leading the country's emergence from the economic crisis and achieving rapid growth, together with a sharp increase of people's living standards. Liviu Dragnea, the PSD's current president, was elected party leader in 2015 and has since led a series of reforms that have positioned the PSD to form Romania's next government. Mr. Dragnea is a former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development.
For further information: Steluta Negoita, +40 730 650 545, email@example.com in Bucharest or Zhenya Harrison, +44 (0)20 3397 2825 or firstname.lastname@example.org in London.
SOURCE Social Democratic Party of Romania