POLITICS

Ruling coalition backs Constitution changes, opposition deems them unnecessary

President Traian Basescu’s call for the Constitution to be amended so as to abide by the decisions made at the EU summit were welcomed by the ruling coalition, but the opposition said the measures should be included in a special law and the fundamental law should be changed only after the elections.

LABOUR MINISTER SULFINA BARBU said on Saturday procedures to amend the Constitution in order to include provisions regarding the budget deficit should begin at the start of the next parliamentary season. She added that a political agreement between all parliamentary parties is needed to revise the Constitution, meaning that consensus has to be reached between the power and the opposition. Barbu added that until the Constitution is amended, the deficit target will remain the one stipulated in the draft budget for next year: 3 per cent of the GDP.

TOURISM AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER ELENA UDREA also voiced support for constitutional review, but voiced her opinion that the opposition would not back such a move. “The opposition is looking for pretexts to say no all the time. I think that only as a consequence of the obligations coming from the decision made in Brussels will they accept a Constitution change so as to accept a maximum deficit limit and perhaps other amendments. But it’s very unlikely, I don’t expect them to act responsibly, as they think the role of the opposition is to block everything in Parliament,” Udrea said.

And the ruling coalition’s NATIONAL UNION FOR ROMANIA PROGRESS (UNPR) welcomed the president’s call for talks on the European Council summit decisions and voiced willingness to attend consultations. “In the current economic context at European and world level, political dialogue is absolutely necessary and is a solid prerequisite for the immediate and efficient application of anti-crisis measures, both at national and EU level,” UNPR said in a press release carried by Mediafax news agency. The party added that the fiscal governance agreement is an important step forward taken by European leaders and the requirement that national budgets within the EU be balanced is a long-term winning solution.

But the opposition SOCIAL LIBERAL UNION (USL) said it would only agree to Constitution review only after elections and demanded that Parliament be consulted on the commitments taken during the European Council. Detailing the USL’s demands, SOCIAL DEMOCRAT LEADER VICTOR PONTA told a press conference yesterday that setting a maximum deficit limit can be achieved by a special law, not necessarily by amending the Constitution.  He also criticised the fact that Basescu in Brussels “signed” the fiscal governance treaty without being mandated to do so and without an internal debate on the matter. Ponta underlined that USL agrees to the implementation of the decisions made by the EU Council and presented the opposition’s five-step plan in this regard: the creation of a power-opposition-central bank crisis committee to find the fastest solutions to implement the EU decisions and to cut deficit, passing a special law on this matter instead of amending the Constitution, setting up a technocrat government that would implement anti-crisis measures and prepare early elections, organising snap legislative polls and having the newly elected Parliament review the fundamental law. Ponta also explained that introducing a maximum deficit limit by special law would be faster than amending the Constitution and called on President Basescu to organise serious political consultations on the matter “as soon as possible.”

In his turn, NATIONAL LIBERAL PARTY’S (PNL) VARUJAN VOSGANIAN, former finance minister, said Basescu should not call parliamentary parties for consultations on the EU economic governance agreement, because this would do “more harm than good.” “I believe the president, if he loves this country, should leave parties be, not invite them anywhere. The idea that the president calls the parties for talks, (…) has proven not to be the best solution. It’s clear that Cotroceni Palace is not a good place for political consensus,” Vosganian wrote on his blog. He added that political dialogue on what the EU Council decided should take place in Parliament and that only if parties fail to reach agreement can they resort to the president’s mediation.

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