The president was very tough on PM Victor Ponta’s position that Romania should use the veto in the European Council if the budget of the European Union is not good for our country. Yesterday, Basescu accused the head of the Executive of making irresponsible and anti-European statements. Victor Ponta was also quick to respond.
President Traian Basescu and Prime Minister Victor Ponta have duelled with statements in the last couple of days, this time the apple of discord being Ponta’s statement in favour of Romania using the veto in the European Council due this week if the EU budget is not good for the country. Yesterday, President Traian Basescu issued a press release accusing Prime Minister Victor Ponta of making irresponsible and anti-European statements, placing his electoral and personal interest above the national interest. In the same press statement it is pointed out that some politicians’ positions, including Ponta’s, ‘make our country’s position vulnerable in the negotiations of the next EU budget period 2014-2020 and seriously affect Romania’s image abroad, primarily with negative consequences on investors’ groups’. As an answer to the press release of the Presidential Administration, the government issued its own communiqué which affirms that the prime minister does not intended to enter an electoral dispute with the president of Romania, “given the latter’s interest to become involved with the campaign for the parliamentary elections of December 9, using to this regard any pretext to cause new conflicts.” Premier Victor Ponta accuses President Traian Basescu of misinforming the public and imperatively demands him to stop interfering with the electoral campaign and to represent Romania in the European Council in accord with the country’s national interest.The release the president issued yesterday came after a statement PM Ponta had made on Friday, saying that ‘we did not join the EU so that they make us an ANI and a DNA. Like other countries – Spain, Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria, and Hungary – we joined because the European Union is all about cohesion and proposes common growth’. ‘As long as a Romanian farmer receives three times less subsidy than the French or German one, what solidarity are we talking about? (…) If we had been told back in 2007 <you are not getting any roads, hospitals or agriculture like in the West, but you will get ANI and DNA>, maybe we would have thought twice.”
“I am a convinced pro-European and I think hat, with everything he does, he inspires an anti-European feeling in the population,’ Ponta also said. On Friday, the president ironically said that, ever since the announcement made by Ponta that Romania might use the veto in the European Council, all the leaders of the contributing states ‘had been hiding underneath their desks’. He said that ‘one cannot go to Brussels in such a lame shape’. ‘I, too, am ready to use the veto if the Treaty is broken. In eight years I have seen no state use the veto in the European Council when the Treaty was not broken. I have seen no such thing.”For the rest, the mission of European leaders is to sit there until they come up with the solution. I would remind of the 2007-2013 budget negotiations I attended. It took three days and two nights and Romania eventually obtained a budget it seems incapable to spend,’ he said. President Basescu also said one cannot go to the contributors and tell them: ‘Mrs. Merkel, if you don’t give me this, I am going to give you a veto that you won’t even leave Berlin.’ ‘It is not Mr. Gherghina’s budget, it is the political decision of the leaders, it is a political decision on everyone’s contribution to the budget, because Romania also contributes and it is also a political decision on how to redistribute that. For such negotiations you don’t need accountants, you need good politicians,’ Basescu also said. He noted that no one can ‘scream in anticipation’ on the subject because that would be ‘impolite’. The veto must be used by a country when the Accession Treaty is violated or when it is subjected to different criteria than other member states,’ Basescu said. Asked what minister he would take with him in his delegation, Basescu said: ‘I don’t need any political ministers, what I need is a team – in 2006 I didn’t have that because I had not enough experience – that should stay outside the meeting room, in the space reserved for Romania and who, when we discuss adjustments of 0.01 or 0.03, to tell me quickly what the effect of that would be in the state budget.’ The president noted that he could take care of the political part very well and that the only thing he would need was ‘a team of people with laptops’ and with a good knowledge of what he requires of them.After the talks at Cotroceni on Thursday, PM Victor Ponta had said that the government officials engaged in the negotiations would give the president all the information he needed to be able to express a decisive position in the EC proposals in Brussels.Asked whether he would meet with PM Ponta while in Brussels, the president said he could always buy him a coffee at the hotel where he would be staying. Asked if he felt disarmed ahead of the EU summit by the prime minister’s position regarding the using of the veto, the president answered: ‘No, because I am smarter than what has been proposed, I am better prepared, I have solutions’. ‘I have never made any position statements. It’s the biggest mistake for a state to make position statements in advance, because it goes there disarmed. You can present what will be discussed, the topics – that’s what all leaders do – but it would be a naïve thing to go there naked. It was probably good for COMECON, but it is not good for the EU,’ said Basescu.Ponta: Romania loses EUR 8 bn from Van Rompuy’s proposal
Prime Minister Victor Ponta warned on Saturday that the EU budget proposal made by the President of the European Council means EUR 8 bn less for Romania, ‘EUR 400 less for every Romanian’ and insisted on the fact that Traian Basescu must vote against it. ‘Van Rompuy’s proposed budget comes with an allocation of EUR 5 bn for cohesion and EUR 3 bn for the agricultural policy, less than the EC proposal,’ Ponta explained. ‘I wish President Basescu would stop going to Brussels only to cater for his private interests as he has done so many times. I wish he goes there to represent the national interest,’ Ponta also said. ‘President Basescu’s statement was flimsy and ridiculous, at the level of mockery one cannot afford to go down to. Given what he said about using the veto in the EU, the head of state seemed more interested in his relationship with German Chancellor Merkel than in the interest of Romania,’ Ponta also said. At the same time, the premier replied to Basescu’s statement saying that using the veto on the European Council would be a big shame, reminding the president that he had intended to use the veto this year, before the Spring Council in the Serbian matter. In the same context Ponta said the president counted on ‘the ignorance of journalists and Romanians’ when he speaks of the ‘shame’ of using the veto at the European Council, not telling them that countries like France, Great Britain or Denmark have also done it.
Echoes pro and against using the veto
Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean says in a release posted by the Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) on Saturday that the expectations the Romanian society has of the high official who will represent Romania at the European Council were that he supports ‘unequivocally and as firmly as possible’ the interests of Romania, ‘which includes using the veto’. The leader of PSD MEPs, Catalin Ivan, also said on Saturday that President Traian Basescu had the duty to fight at the European Council in Brussels to make sure Romania’s funds are not cut even if such position would place him in opposition to his friends from the EPP. On the other hand, PDL Vice President Anca Boagiu says PM Victor Ponta has compromised the negotiation President Basescu was planning to have on the EU budget in Brussels and notes that using the veto would mean blocking the EU budget altogether. At the same time, ARD spokesman Train Ungureanu said during a press conference on Saturday that Romanian Premier Victor Ponta is a kind of ‘European anti-everything’ who doesn’t seem to understand that, in the EU, things go on and are decided by negotiation and compromise.A position regarding using the veto also came from PNL MEP Renate Weber, who said on Friday that Romania had to build a position that should not be singular, but part of a group of countries sharing the same view. Theodor Stolojan who leads the PDL delegations of MEPs, said the use of the veto by a EU member state in the Union decision-making process is ‘the atomic, nuclear option’ one can only use ‘in extreme situations’.