S&D Group president Udo Bullmann was in Bucharest on November 21, along with other political groups’ leaders and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani (Conference of Presidents), for a presentation of the priorities of the incoming Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, which starts on 1 January 2019.

“I am looking forward to hearing and discussing with the Romanian government the priorities for the upcoming presidency in Bucharest. The Romanian government takes over the Presidency at a very delicate moment in time. With the historical 2019 European elections only a few months away, there will be a lot of pressing topics on the table – from Brexit and the continued threat of interference in elections to the next Multiannual Financial Framework. The task for the next Presidency is particularly big given that the current Austrian presidency has failed or refused to make progress in many important areas. Therefore, we Socialists and Democrats will state clearly in Bucharest that we expect momentum on a number of key issues and stand ready to work with the Presidency in order to achieve this,” Udo Bullmann stated ahead of the meeting.

“Most notably, we have to tackle the threat of massive digital interference in the European elections. We must ensure that the elections in May 2019 take place in a fair manner and prevent third parties from undermining people’s free will using algorithms and fake news. We are happy to work together with the Romanian Presidency to make this a top-priority and enhance the pressure on social networks to come up with serious proposals on how to prevent disinformation. Moreover, we urgently need to see a follow-up on the Article 7 procedures against Hungary and Poland. In both cases, the European Parliament has made clear that it will not accept the consistent and sustained attacks on the basic principles of EU membership. However, the Austrian Presidency led by Chancellor Kurz has done little to act on our call. To the contrary, Chancellor Kurz seemed to do a lot to block meaningful progress in the Council on Orbán’s behalf. These delaying tactics must come to an immediate end,” he added.