Friday

20th Apr 2018

Romanian PM ignores court, heads to EU summit

  • Victor Ponta (c) rushing through the corridors of power (Photo: Kancelaria Prezesa Rady Ministrów)

EU leaders may be at odds over what to say at today's key summit, but Romanian politicians cannot even decide who should attend.

A court ruling was supposed to end the matter. But the dispute between the president and the premier is tumbling along despite the verdict.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The country's top judges said the president should attend the two-day meeting in Brussels. However Prime Minister Victor Ponta has already left for the EU capital, claiming the judges are the president's "men."

Ponta insists that most countries are represented by their heads of government at EU summits. But Romania is a semi-presidential republic where the president has the ultimate say in foreign and security matters.

The current dispute is a repeat of the 2004-2008 period when Basescu also had to share powers with a prime minister from a different party. Calin Popescu Tariceanu, the then PM, insisted on coming to EU summits too. The duo were often at odds during joint press conferences.

But it is the first time a Romanian official openly ignores a ruling of the Constitutional Court.

"I will go to Brussels tomorrow. I am backed by the legitimacy given to me not by five judges appointed on political criteria, but by the Romanian Parliament," Ponta said, pledging to appoint apolitical judges.

Meanwhile, his government - a coalition of the new Social-Liberal majority formed in the parliament - took over the office of the Official Journal - so far under the authority of the parliament.

This meant the Official Journal had not published the Constitutional Court's ruling by Thursday morning.

EU officials are looking on with some bemusement. "This is will definitely not help Romania in getting rid of its monitoring in justice and corruption matters," said one senior official

Romania, along with its southern neighbour Bulgaria, are the only EU members still being monitored by the EU commission in a bid to keep anti-corruption reforms on track.

Plagiarism

Meanwhile Romanians are also gripped by another saga - this time involving plagiarism claims.

Former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase was jailed on Wednesday for corruption, the first time a top official goes behind bars for embezzling public funds.

Still a heavyweight in the Social-Democrat Party Ponta chairs, Nastase was first put in hospital for a week after having tried to shoot himself upon receiving the verdict. A court ruling on Thursday may still take him out of jail until an appeal is ruled upon.

Nastase was also Ponta's professor for his PhD thesis - a thesis Nature magazine earlier this month said was largely plagiarised.

But Ponta has no intention of stepping down. "The only reproach I have is that I did not list authors at the bottom of each page, but put them in the bibliography at the end. If this is a mistake, then I am willing to pay for it."

Meanwhile President Basescu decided to stay in Bucharest. He was due to hold a press conference later in the afternoon. Romanian media were citing sources indicating he may file a court case against Ponta for a power grab.

As in 2007, the anti-Basescu majority in the parliament will try to impeach him. Back then, he was suspended for a month and risked to be ousted from power. A referendum on the matter reconfirmed him as president, however.

Parliamentary elections are due this fall, with the Ponta majority likely to win. Basescu's mandate ends in 2014.

EU warns Romania on rule of law

The EU commission has warned the Romanian government not to undermine rule of law amid political infighting in Bucharest.

Romania's political turmoil may hit Schengen bid

Romania's current constitutional turmoil may ultimately result in its longed-for entry into the EU's passport-free zone being delayed still further, the European Commission warned Wednesday.

Analysis

New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

The EU's latest funding rules for European political parties and their think tanks fails to address the underlying problems of abuse. Instead of tackling the loans and donations culture, it has simply made access to EU funds a lot easier.

MEPs set limits to Macron's ambitions

The French president tried to woo the European Parliament but found that his quest for leadership will have to abide by the rules set by the European political groups.

Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a political deal on organic farming, following 19 months of behind-closed-doors negotiations. EUobserver here details a five-month odyssey to get access to the secret documents that led to the deal.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists