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March 23, 2023

Row over who should represent Romania at May 23 European Council

PSD claims PM Ponta is entitled to go as economic topics will be discussed, PDL and Basescu’s advisers say it is the head of state’s prerogative.

The dispute over who should represent the country at the European Council May 23 is escalating. After on Sunday he promised to continue to talk to President Basescu on the matter, in order ‘to avoid a ridiculous situation’, yesterday, PM Victor Ponta said the important thing was what would be discussed at the European Council and not who would represent Romania for the meeting. ‘To me it is not a question of ego – it has to be me, not Mr. Basescu – to me it is a question of representation of Romania and one of mandate of the person who goes, be it Mr. Basescu or the Prime Minister, it’s all right. The important thing is for us to know what will be discussed about Romania there and the person who will go will need to have a very clear mandate to negotiate on behalf of Romania’, ‘Evenimentul zilei’ quotes Ponta as saying. He said a meeting would be taking place in Bucharest, on June 1, bringing together PMs of countries with a negative contribution to the EU budget, meaning states that need more cohesion and structural funds. The PM added that the heads of government of Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary had already confirmed they would attend. The president’s adviser on security and foreign policy affairs, Iulian Chifu (photo), on his part said that, unless it is dealt with by dialogue between President Traian Basescu and Prime Minister Victor Ponta, the issue of representation at the European Council could even end up before the Constitutional Court. ‘The Constitution clearly and explicitly states that the representation is the president’s prerogative. The fact that one may believe that the subject of certain meetings is closer to the Government’s area of competence is a matter of interpretation. This is also an electoral period and USL, who had also pursued the impeachment of the president, probably wants to maximise the subject. (…) The differences over the representation at the Council can be solved by dialogue by the president and the prime minister. If not, the dispute can only be dealt with by the Constitutional Court’, Chifu told Mediafax. Basescu’s adviser also said that a solution of dialogue at the level of the power could be setting up ‘informal institutions’ of cohabitation to facilitate dialogue and formulation of common positions by the Presidency and Government. Later on yesterday, PM Ponta said in retort that there wouldn’t be any conflict between the president and the prime-minister, as both of them represent the executive power, adding it is not his intention to create an artificial conflict on the representation at the European Council.The subject of representation to Brussels was raised by the PSD and PDL representatives. While Social Democrat Vice President Corina Cretu says Prime Minister Victor Ponta should normally attend the European Council, MEP Cristian Preda says that it is not a tradition of the European Council to have different participants according to what the topics on the agenda are and that, in his opinion, a presence ‘in a duet’ at the EU would not be justified. Cretu’s argument is that this time the Council will discuss economic matters and therefore the PM should participate as it will be he who will need to implement any economic decision made in Brussels. ‘The president has not the levers to implement what is decided by the European Council. It would be in Romania’s best interest that the political actor who implements what is decided there goes’, Cretu said. On the other hand, Cristian Preda says Romania, like any European member state, may be represented at the EU summits by the head of state or the head of government and that, so far, it has been represented by the president. ‘I’m afraid this is more likely pressure being put on Traian Basescu, that would justify a subsequent final attack on the president. I don’t think it would be a good idea to use a European pretext to build a virtual impeachment case’, added the PDL MEP.

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