On 24th of January, when Romania celebrated 160 years since the Union of Romanian Principalities Moldavia and Wallachia, I had the privilege of being in Italy to participate at the Opening Ceremony of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, organised at the Ispra Joint Research Center, the European Commission's science and knowledge service.
I dedicated the first part of my visit to meeting the Romanians working at JRC Ispra. I seized the opportunity to congratulate them for their hard work and also for their ambitious projects aiming to promote the Romanian culture and traditions in the next 6 months of the Romanian Presidency.
Next, at the invitation of Mr. Director-General Vladimír Šucha, I got the chance to make a tour of the Ispra Joint Research Center and learn more about its work directly or indirectly linked to regional, urban policies and territorial development and also to appreciate fully the wide range of areas and issues covered by the JRC. Even though the general activities of the JRC centre are not unknown to me- given that early in my mandate as Commissioner for Regional Policy I had visited the Seville site- I admit being truly impressed by the diverse activities and research infrastructures hosted by JRC Ispra and its scientific work in the support of our common safe future within the European Union.
The highlight of my visit was the Ceremony of the Romanian Presidency at the Council of the EU, organised by JRC Ispra. I was honoured to deliver a speech and underline how important and fruitful the cooperation between JRC and DG Regional and Urban Policy is, especially knowing how much all EU Member States directly benefit from their scientific work, for instance in the fields of smart specialization strategies and mapping of natural disasters.
By far, the most exciting and emotionally moments for me were the Flag Ceremony- with the Romanian flag replacing the Austrian one as a symbol of the starting of Romanian Presidency to the Council of the EU- and the unveiling of the „Romanian Semester” symbol, the sculpture „The table of Silence”, a tribute brought by Constantin Brâncuși to the Romanian soldiers fallen during the First World War. This masterpiece is also considered as being a symbol of meditation and family reunion before major decisions.