News 19 Nov 12

Romania Mulls Vetoing EU Budget Cuts

Romania’s leaders are at odds over whether the country has a right to threaten to veto EU budget changes at the upcoming European Council meeting.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

Romania is threatening to veto the EU budget if the European Commission's planned cuts to the budget for the next seven years slash farming and development funds.

New EU member states, Romania included, are to lose most from a proposal to cut 75 billion euro from 2014-2020 spending. The budget is to be discussed in Brussels next week. 

Romania is threatening radical action. “We have to promote Romania’s interest at the next EC meeting, and we should make this in a clear and firm way, including to use the right to vote against the proposed EU budget,” Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean said on Saturday.

Corlatean’s statement was in line with Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s opinion, who the previous day said Romania could use its right to veto the EU budget.

"When something is unacceptable, we have the right to vote against it, in keeping with European treaties," Ponta said.

On the other hand, President Traian Basescu favours a more balanced attitude in the negotiations over EU budget, blaming the government for exacerbating matters.

“I have to warn politicians that their anti-European attitude puts at risk Romania’s position at the future meeting in Brussels,” Basescu said on Sunday.

“I have also to ask the government to take any necessary measures in order for Romania to better absorb EU funds and to avoid any future blocking of European payments.”

The President was referring to reports that the European Commission could block payments to Romania of 7 billion euro from the Regional Operational Programs, POS, on Transport and Competion.

The program aims to help Romania develop and maintain transport infrastructure and to increase companies’ productivity. The main problems cited are programme flaws and suspected fraud.

The dispute between Romania’s President and the center-left government of Prime Minister Ponta is not new.

Earlier, Ponta and Basescu disagreed over who should represent Romania at EU summits. The premier argued that he should go to Brussels, as decisions taken at the Council are negotiated between governments, not heads of state. The President argued that foreign relations were his special prerogative. In September, the Constitutional Court decided that Basescu will represent Romania at future EU meetings.

The dispute between Ponta and Basescu included a referendum on the impeachment of President on July 29, in which most voters favoured removing him.

Basescu remained in his post, however, as the turnout was only at 46 per cent, which was below the 50-per-cent threshold needed for the result to be validated by the Constitutional Court.

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