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Brussels, May 5 - AGERPRES special correspondent Florin Stefan reports: Candidate of the European People's Party (EPP) for the Presidency of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview with AGERPRES that he hopes that the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) for Romania and Bulgaria will be phased out by the end of his Presidency, if he is elected head of the EU executive body. Juncker sets himself as a goal continuing the important work begun by the current President of the EU executive arm, Jose Manuel Barroso, towards progressively establishing a rule of law mechanism for all EU countries. He said that the CVM was useful over the years in supporting the rule of law and the fight against corruption, but specified that he also believes in the need for an equal treatment for all member states.
Jean-Claude Juncker also said in the interview with AGERPRES that unfortunately, he will not be present in Romania during the campaign for the upcoming European elections, but mentioned that he has visited Romania several times and that he has "many political friends and partners" here. The EPP candidate pointed out that he has great appreciation for the work done by all centre-right parties in Romania that are close to the EPP, voicing hopes that after elections he will be able to work together with them "for the Europe we want in the future."
Referring to the Republic of Moldova, Juncker said that it should carry on along its European path and that the EU must remain open to Moldova's European perspective, even if it will take some time until the final format this perspective can take is definitely established.
Last, but not least, the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg and Eurogroup President spoke about his priorities if he is elected at the helm of the European Commission at the end of this month, and what distinguishes him from his main rival, German Socialist Martin Schulz.

AGERPRES: If you were to think about a single message to set you apart from the candidates of other pan-European parties, in the eyes of the voters, what would that be? Why should Europeans cast an indirect vote for Juncker instead of Schulz or Verhofstadt by their vote choices in the elections between May 22 and May 25?
Jean-Claude Juncker: When Europe was going through a tough time, I was the prime minister of Luxembourg and the president of the Eurogroup. I know what it is to govern in this period of crisis. It is this experience and intrinsic knowledge of European issues - notably in economic policies and in foreign affairs- that I want to put at the service of Europe.
Mr. Schulz says he wants to be the ‘mayor President' but writing letters to Commission staff is not going to cut it. We need more to listen and talk to each other in Europe, and not write letters. The fact that Mr Schulz is also campaigning primarily in Germany and once said to me during a TV debate that other European countries ‘should be more like Germany' also makes me doubt whether he will be able to represent the whole of Europe.
The fact that my candidature was proposed both by the Christian Democrats of Germany and the Nea Demokratia Party of Greece is a strong signal. I can build bridges between North, South, East and West. I want to bring Europe together after the crisis.

AGERPRES: What will be your priorities if you are elected president of the European Commission and how will your commission differ from Barroso's?
Jean-Claude Juncker: In a very difficult context, Barroso and his Commission have worked continuously to put the European economy back on its feet and to stabilise the euro. As Commission president, I will build on this important and in many ways successful work.
As president of the Commission, I will focus my efforts on growth and employment, on strengthening Europe's energy policy and on developing a truly common foreign policy of the Union. I also want the members of the Commission to be politically experienced men and women, who bring clear proposals in order to reach these goals.
My top priority as President of the Commission will be to create growth and jobs that are not based in debt. For that, we have the great opportunity of completing the Digital Single Market, which could generate some 500 billion euros in growth over the next five years. Such number would create a lot of quality jobs and would help us develop a dynamic, knowledge-based society.
Another one of my priorities is strengthening Europe's energy standing. It is imperative that we reduce our dependence of Russia in this matter. We have to find a way to diversify our supplies. If the economic or the political cost of importing oil and gas from one supplier, becomes too expensive, we should be able to switch to different alternatives and ensure that European citizens are not left in the cold for weeks on end because of a lack of energy resources.

AGERPRES: The Republic of Moldova is scheduled to sign the Association Agreement and the DCFTA before end-June, so when the new president of the commission starts his or her tenure and the agreement should be at the implementation stage. If you were elected president of the EC, would you act for the continuation of Moldova's integration with the European Union, and if so, how would you do that? Do you think Moldova and the other countries in the Eastern Partnership should be provided with accession prospects?
Jean-Claude Juncker: I am a strong supporter of the signature of the Association Agreement and the DCFTA with Moldova. The government of Moldova, also led by the EPP by the way, has shown leadership in implementing courageous reforms and that is being acknowledged by the European Union as well with the entry into force of the visa liberalisation programme last month.
I believe that Moldova should continue to walk its European path and that the EU must remain open to Moldova's European perspective, even though it will take time until we can see which will be the final format this perspective can take. A close association of Moldova to the Union is certainly both a realistic and a desirable perspective for the years to come.

AGERPRES: You were the chairman of the Eurogroup when the European Union witnessed the most serious economic and financial crisis, playing a pivotal role in the decision-making process. Do you think this to be an asset or a hindrance in the electoral campaign for the presidency of the European Commission? Do you reckon Europe is definitely out of the crisis?
Jean-Claude Juncker: As President of the Eurogroup I gained immeasurable experience in dealing with this crisis. I chaired the meetings in which we decided on our recipe of 'solidarity for solidity' with regard to the countries in financial distress.
This recipe has proven to work. The worst of the crisis is now behind us and we are starting to see signs of recovery everywhere this recipe has been applied: Ireland has left the bailout programme and so will Portugal this month, while Greece is going back to the financial markets and the prospects of growth in Spain are gaining momentum.
We are not out of the woods yet, but we are turning the corner. I think my experience in this respect is very much an asset.

AGERPRES: If you are elected to head the European Commission, what will your stand be on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanisms for Romania and Bulgaria? Do you think this instrument should be kept in place or that there are other community-level mechanisms to monitor the fight against corruption and the reform of the judiciary in the two countries?
Jean-Claude Juncker: The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism has been helpful over the last years in supporting rule of law and fight against corruption.
An efficient and trustworthy judiciary will improve the legitimacy by the public as well as bring economic benefit. Only when entrepreneurs and investors have trust that the rule of law is fully upheld will they have the confidence to invest in the economy of a country. Predictable, timely and enforceable justice decisions all have a crucial impact in making a country an attractive location for business and investment. That is why reforms need to continue.
I believe in the rule of law, but also in the equal treatment of all Member States.
I therefore welcome the initiative of José Manuel Barroso, our current EPP President of the European Commission, to progressively move towards a Rule of Law Mechanism for all EU Member States.
I will continue this important work when I am Commission President. And this will, I hope, allow for the phasing out of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism by the end of my Presidency.

AGERPRES: You have suggested the establishment of a European army in the light of the events in Crimea. Do you think such idea is all the more topical amidst the latest developments in Ukraine? How will the actions of such an army be conducted in relation to NATO and how will it be funded under the current austerity conditions, given that many countries barely meet their financial obligations to NATO?
Jean-Claude Juncker: We have 1.5 million soldiers in Europe - more than the United States. And yet, for example the British-French interventions in Libya were only possible with the assistance of the U.S.
I believe that we have to start taking into consideration the provisions of the Treaties that allow for a progressive development of a common European defence. I know this idea is not popular everywhere, but the Treaty also allows for countries which are willing to do it, to move forward, and they should be encouraged to do so.
Indeed, Western States already cooperate through NATO and in Europe, we already have closely integrated military structures such as the Eurocorps, European battle groups, an EU military staff, and the Franco-German Brigade. A European army would be a logical final step, even though it will take some years to materialise.
Pooling resources also makes sense financially: a common European Defence policy could save between 3 and 9 billion euros a year.

AGERPRES: In Romania, there is a wide fragmentation of the Center-Right spectrum, as new formations of the same leanings have emerged over the past years, all competing to accede to the European People's Party (EPP), such as the Civic Force (FC) and the People's Movement Party (PMP). Do you believe this Right fragmentation will affect the electoral score of EPP in Romania that matters for the success of your bid for the presidency of the European Commission? Will you come to Romania for the electoral campaign for the European elections?
Jean-Claude Juncker: Unfortunately, however much I would like to, I am simply not able to visit all 28 EU Member States during the short time period of this campaign. This means that I will not be able to go to Romania during the campaign but I have a big appreciation for the work that all centre-right parties in Romania close to the EPP are doing. And fortunately, I have been to Romania at several occasions in the past, I have many political friends and partners in Romania, and I certainly plan to come back to Romania once elected as Commission President.
After the elections, we will all work together for the Europe that we want in the future. A Europe whose growth is not based on accumulating more debt, a Europe less dependent of foreign actors in the energy sector, a Europe with a vibrant and prosperous Digital Single Market. These are all objectives that I believe are shared by all parties close to the EPP family, and increasingly also by other political forces.

AGERPRES: Is there any possibility of you collaborating with extremist forces in the future European Parliament, which are gaining ground and will certainly win more seats than in the previous elections, given that the European Parliament's vote on the future president of the European Commission promises to be very close?
Jean-Claude Juncker: None. I have already made very clear: I will not cooperate with extremist parties in the European Parliament. These parties are not compatible with the European values that we have built throughout the years. I will not count on their votes to be elected President of the Commission and I would expect my Socialist counter-part to do the same in regard to left-wing extremists. AGERPRES

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