19 Romanians to watch as Bucharest bosses Europe

Romania took over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1 and pressure is already high.

In the coming months, the presidency will need to navigate a changing and treacherous political and diplomatic landscape, from Brexit to the European Parliament election. This comes at a time when the country’s embattled government is accused of backsliding on anti-corruption efforts and pushing the country away from EU values.

Romania has faced early questions on its preparedness — or lack thereof — to take the wheel on EU policymaking on the Council side. To prove the doubters wrong, it will have to give a decisive push to a few key legislative files still waiting for the white smoke to come out of interinstitutional negotiations before the European election. They range from rules on food transparency to efforts to regulate e-commerce.

Here are 19 key Romanians you need to know in Brussels.

Luminiţa Odobescu

Luminita Odobescu | European Union

The Romanian ambassador is well aware of the difficulties ahead. “We will face a lot of challenges,” Odobescu told POLITICO ahead of the start of Bucharest’s presidency. “The legislative window is quite limited, while we have a lot of important files on the table.” She vowed that the Romanian presidency will be “ready and committed” to starting work on the future relationship between the U.K. and the EU. A career diplomat with expertise in energy, economic and monetary union, taxation and trade — she led negotiations on these issues during her country’s accession talks — Odobescu has had a long experience in Brussels. In her current position, she has improved the Romanian representation’s communications efforts and opened it up for events.

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