Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

Romanian government downplays EU to-do list

  • The Romanian parliament is to reconvene this week (Photo: Wikipedia)

The Romanian government has downplayed the urgency of list of measures demanded by the EU commission as it seeks to restore confidence in the country's rule of law and avoid political sanctions.

Back from a trip to Brussels where he sought to allay concerns of top EU officials over the latest moves of his government, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said the commission had formulated "some questions", to which he would reply in writing.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The 11-point list, obtained by Gandul newspaper, demands "immediate compliance" with rulings of the constitutional court and the abrogation of governmental decrees limiting its powers.

Interim president Crin Antonescu - Ponta's political ally who was appointed chairman of the Senate during the ongoing impeachment procedure of President Traian Basescu - said there were no "ten commandments" from the EU commission because Romania is a sovereign country.

"The president of Romania, even the interim president, doesn't take orders... from anyone except parliament and the Romanian people," Antonescu said.

And yet sanctions are being considered, including the 'nuclear option' of suspending Romania's voting rights. Court cases at the European Court of Justice and the suspension of EU funds are also on the table.

But the most likely outcome is a continued monitoring of Romania's justice system and the indefinite postponement of its membership to the border-free Schengen area.

Romania and Bulgaria had hoped to be rid of the extra monitoring of their judicial systems and join the passport free zone this year.

But a report to be published on Wednesday by the EU commission is unlikely to recommend either move. In addition, the political infighting in Bucharest has raised concerns in Brussels and Germany that institutions such as the constitutional court as well as the ombudsman and the official journal are being politicised as they were during the Communist regime.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week summoned the Romanian ambassador in Berlin and told him her "great concern about the political developments in Romania," a press statement of the chancellery reads.

Merkel considers that the emergency decree issued by the Ponta government to limit the competences of the Constitutional Court "seriously threatens the principle of separation of powers."

She also insisted that the court's ruling be respected when it comes to a minimum turnout for a referendum on the impeachment of the president to be valid.

But Ponta replied that it is up the parliament to change the referendum-organising law to bring it in line with the court ruling, even though it was the government that issued the decree - saying that a majority of those that turn out to vote is enough to remove the president - in the first place. The parliament is to reconvene from summer recess on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Meanwhile, human rights bodies are also monitoring the situation. Jean-Claude Mignon, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, is due in Bucharest later this week.

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.

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.

Brussels accepts Ponta's promises but warns on implementation

The European Commission is to take into account pledges by the Romanian government to bolster the rule of law in today's highly anticipated monitoring report, but warned it will keep a a close eye on whether the promises are kept.

Analysis

Romania: Will strong words be enough?

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has condemned the Romanian government for undermining trust in the rule of law but there is little Brussels can do.

Poland snubbed twice in EU summit fiasco

[Updated] Poland tried and failed to block EU summit conclusions shortly after failing to block Tusk’s re-election as Council chief, prompting bitter accusations.

French candidates avoid EU debate

In their first TV debate, the main candidates for the April election only briefly discussed the country's EU policies, with far-right Le Pen and centrist Macron taking aim at each other.

News in Brief

  1. EU summons Turkish envoy over threats to Europeans
  2. British police make first arrests in London terror probe
  3. EU commission has received Facebook reply on WhatsApp
  4. Rome expects thousands of protesters at summit
  5. Dijsselbloem says his comments had 'Dutch directness'
  6. Ukraine spy agency bars Russian Eurovision singer
  7. Turkish president Erdogan threatens Europeans
  8. Russia invites EU diplomats to occupied Crimea

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EJCExpresses Concern That Extremists Still Have the Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  3. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  4. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  5. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  7. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  8. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  9. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  11. Malta EU 2017Consumer Protection Laws to Be Strengthened by EU-Wide Cooperation
  12. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted

Latest News

  1. Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save the EU
  2. Poland unlikely to face EU discipline on rule of law
  3. Rutte courted Wilders' voters, now he must deliver
  4. Barnier to UK: trade talks will come after settling accounts
  5. EU declaration to voice unity in troubled times
  6. Terror attack shuts down UK parliament
  7. Catalonia and Scotland at core of Europe's geopolitical conundrum
  8. La présidentielle française sous cyber-alerte maximale