Back in January, The Euros wrote a piece about the Brussels-bothering, less-than-democratic behaviour of Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. Now, it would appear that his Romanian counterpart and namesake, Victor Ponta, is another Tricky Victor. Since taking the reins as Prime Minister in May 2012, several measures taken by him and his government that have led to the European Commission questioning Romania’s commitment to rule of law and an independent judicial system.
Since coming to power, Ponta has reduced the power of Romania’s Constitutional Court , meaning that is no longer able to reverse internal decisions made by the Romanian Parliament. He fired the ombudsman, who is responsible for investigating complaints made against government institutions and can challenge government decrees, and replaced him with a loyalist, and he also, ultimately unsuccessfully, attempted to impeach his bitter rival, Romanian President Traian Băsescu, in what was internationally condemned as a “coup d’état” and “a humiliating show trial”.
Ponta met with Commission President Barroso on 17th September. The latter urged Romania “to set their focus very firmly on the urgent need to restore institutional and political stability”.
But it remains to be seen whether Ponta will listen or not. And if he does not, what will the EU do ? What can they do ? Once again the EU finds its powers tested, as one of its Member States refuses to conform to its fundamental principles. The EU must be committed to ensuring that all its citizens, in all its Member States, live in a democratic society, and they must therefore be prepared to exert all pressure possible on this Tricky Victor #2.