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News 28 Jun 12

Romania PM Wins EU Summit Battle With President

Tussle between the President and Prime Minister over who should represent Romania at EU meeting finally ended with the victory of the latter.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

Conceding defeat in the unseemly political row, President Traian Basescu said he had “decided not to go at the European Council because I didn’t want to create an embarrassing moment for Romania.

"But it is important to say that after eight years in office, this was the first time that I was prevented from acting as President of Romania,” Basescu added.  He didn’t elaborate.

Basescu’s statement came just one hour before the start of an important meeting in Brussels, where heads of state or government of all EU member states were expected to discuss measures to promote growth in the crisis-hit eurozone.

In recent days, the President and Prime Minister were at loggerheads over who should represent Romania at June 28-29 EU meeting, with both claiming the right to go.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta left for Brussels on Thursday morning, after the Constitutional Court decided early this week that the President should represent Romania at the European Council.

But Ponta ignored the ruling, saying the Constitutional Court was biased, as most of the judges openly favoured the President.

Ponta also argued that the European Council agenda includes issues that needed to be addressed by the country’s government.

In recent years, Romania was represented at all EU summits by President Basescu, as the former Prime Minister, Emil Boc, willingly ceded that role to the President.

The European Council is a bi-annual meeting of heads of state or government of all EU member states, i.e. Prime Ministers or Presidents, as well as the President of the European Council and the President of the Commission.

Of the 27 members of the EU, only Cyprus, France and Romania are usually represented by their Presidents at European Councils.

The standoff over the Brussels summit is not the only issue dividing Basescu and Ponta. A new round in the fight between them began on Tuesday, when parliament passed legislation making it easier to impeach the President.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has accused President Basescu of being behind the plagiarism allegations that have been made against him.

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