"Renew Europe": Dacian Cioloş Leads the European Liberals
The former Romanian Prime Minister and EU Commissioner of Agriculture, Dacian Cioloş, was elected in Brussels as chairman of the newly founded liberal group “Renew Europe”. He prevailed with a slight majority over Sophie in’t Veld of the Dutch party D66. Thus, he holds the highest political position on the European level that a Romanian ever had since the country joined the EU in 2007.
After assuming the mandate from his predecessor Guy Verhofstadt, Cioloş emphasized that “Renew Europe is more than the third largest group in the European Parliament but also new hope for Europe and for all Europeans”. Renew Europe was only established in June 2019 as a liberal group in the European Parliament. It arose out of an alliance between the former liberal group Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), the European Democratic Party (EDP), the French party En Marche as well as the Romanian Alliance 2020 USR PLUS. As its chairman, Cioloş wants to render Renew Europe tangible to all citizens and offer concrete solutions for all those who are placing their hopes into the liberal group. “Our focus will be to come closer to our citizens and live up to their legitimate expectations at the best, from social security and entrepreneurship via climate and energy to migration, competitiveness, and digital transformation”.
Over the last weeks, many indicators pointed to a potential election victory of Cioloş, who is married to the French agriculture expert Valérie Cioloş-Villemin. Among others, he was the favorite candidate of French president Emmanuel Macron to whose party En Marche (“Forward”) he maintains close contacts.
Cioloş, who served as Romanians interim Prime Minister from 2015 and 2017, founded the Freedom, Unity and Solidarity Party (PLUS) with former members of his cabinet in January this year. While his party is criticized by some as too “leftist” and “bureaucratic”, Cioloş himself claims to represent “ethical liberalism”. By forming the Alliance 2020 with the liberal Save Romania Union (USR), they achieved 22,4 % of the Romanian votes for the European Parliament and thus 8 of 33 seats.
Since the success of PLUS in the Europen elections, Dacian Cioloş has even been touted as a most promising candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in Romania against conservative president Klaus Johannis. Currently, the alliance of PLUS and USR is negotiating about their candidate for the presidential elections as well as the future of their cooperation.
Cioloş, whose election as chairman for Renew Europe was celebrated as a major victory in Romania, declares: “The presidency of the Renew Europe group is only the first step in the political project on which I have been working for the last two years. It is an important step but only the beginning.” According to him, the next step will be an internal political development to build the future that Romanian citizens deserve. However, his words still leave the question open if or if not he will stand as a candidate for the presidency in Romania.