The President changes Romania’s strategy in the Schengen file, one newspaper reads on Thursday. In the same vein, Head of the Representation of EC in Romania chief Nicolae Idu talks about the progress Romania undertook since it became a EU member. Last but not least, the number of Romanians who spent New Year’s Eve in the country dropped by 18% and money spent by 40%.

President Basescu changes Romania’s strategy in the Schengen file, Evenimentul Zilei reads. The President urged the government not to unilaterally denounce the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism in justice and not to block Croatia’s joining the EU.

His statements contradicted the statements made by Romania’s Foreign Affairs minister Teodor Baconschi who previously declared in an interview for daily Adevarul that Romania should oppose Croatia’s joining the EU since Germany and France oppose Romania.

However, yesterday, Baconschi declared for Agerpres that Romania supports Croatia to join the EU and added that the speculations in the media had no basis in his declarations for Adevarul. The President nonetheless, revealed that Romania wishes to continue its political struggle to join Schengen in March.

He said that Romania could chose not to spend 271 million euro to secure borders for EADS – a company in which Germany and France have great stakes – if authorities are not sure when the country will join Schengen. Instead, Basescu proposed to re-direct the money to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to stimulate the economy.

In the same vein, Romania libera interviews Nicolae Idu, head of the Representation of European Commission in Romania on the progress registered by Romania since it joined the EU. For Idu, the most important success is that Romania joined the EU in the first place.

In the interview, Idu says that in the first two years of membership, Romania took advantage of its new status but afterwards, disappointments gathered. In his vision, the only excuse is the economic crisis which can explain the low absorption of EU funds. However, he underlines that this cannot explain failures in justice.

Regarding Schengen, Idu said Romania is technically ready to join but warns that there is also a political side to it.

Gandul reads that the number of Romanians who preferred to celebrate abroad decreased by 20.2% to 8,370 tourists and the total sum spent dropped by 15.2% representing 4.1 million euro. In the country, tariffs decreased by 20-25% compared to last year while for foreign offers, prices decreased by 10%.

Even so, the number of tourists decreased to reach the level of 2004. The main causes were the short holiday break this year, a lower purchasing power and high tariffs compared to the salaries. In Romania, most wanted tourist destinations were on Prahova Valley where the occupation rate hit 98%.

Romanians preferred big cities for New Year’s Eve as there were 20,000 tourists in hotels and restaurants and in the rural areas there were 22,000 tourists.