August 23, 2012
23 years after the bloody destitution of President Ceaucesco from power and five years after joining the EU, Romania`s credentials as a fully democratic country respecting the rule of law continue to fall short of EU constitutional standards as laid down in the Lisbon Treaty.
This has become visible in the most recent power fight between Prime minister Victor Ponta and President Traian Basescu, which ended with Basescu`s destitution by the Romanian Parliament, which was, however not confirmed by a referendum, due to a lack of quorum. On 21st August the Constitutional Court has confirmed the validity of the referendum and asked for the re-instatement of President Basescu.
Though Prime minister Ponta and the acting President Antonescu have declared to respect the Court`s ruling they called it “unfair” and “undemocratic”. Worse, considering him as “illegitimate” both have announced they will mobilise public pressure to enforce his resignation,though his mandate will only expire in 2014.
Moreover, Prime Minister Ponta has also announced his intention to introduce a constitutional reform providing for a new balance between the state institutions, President, Constitutional Court, Parliament and Prime Minister.
After his effort to curtail the competence of the Constitutional Court in June 2012, in particular depriving it of the authority to check parliamentary acts as to their constitutionality, there is every reason to sceptical about the true motives behind such a move.
What matters now is to fully restore the constitutional order and re-install, without any delay, President Basescu in office with his full presidential authority.
It is up to the European Commission and all member States to ensure the respect of democracy, human rights and the rule of law throughout the Union. Unfortunately, we cannot exclude the risk of further violations of article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty by the Romanian government and parliament. Article 7 provides for the appropriate remedies, including the suspension of Romania`s voting rights and, why not, of its participation in meetings of the Council or the European Council.
The EU should make it crystal clear to Victor Ponta and his “friends” that it is very serious when it comes to the compliance with basic constitutional rights.Author : Eberhard Rhein