Romania Softens Line on EU Budget Cuts

Stepping back from earlier talk of vetoing EU budget cuts, Romania’s parliament is now taking a more conciliatory line, merely opposing the cuts in principle.Romania’s parliament on Tuesday adopted a resolution opposing cuts in the EU budget to funds for farming and development.

New EU member states, Romania included, are to lose most from a proposal to cut 75 billion euro from 2014-2020 spending plans. The European Commission will discuss the budget in Brussels on Thursday.

“Any future EU budget must be based on criteria such as solidarity and reducing the gaps between the developed and less developed regions of Europe. Romania has to promote these criteria,” the parliamentary resolution said.

The resolution marks a softening in Romania’s position. Earlier, the government mulled using its right of veto right for the EU budget.

“When something is unacceptable, we have the right to vote against it, in keeping with European treaties,” Prime Minister Victor Ponta said late last week.

President Traian Basescu meanwhile blamed the government for exacerbating matters. “It is a difficult moment for us, as well as for the other states, because nobody is happy about the budget proposal,” he said on Monday.

“But Romania’s potential use of its veto at the budget negotiations in Brussels could harm the country’s standpoint if it is announced beforehand,” he added.

“If we start with the idea of vetoing and we also announce it, we’re are out of the negotiations,” Basescu continued.

The European Council meeting will take place between November 22 and 23. EU leaders will debate the 2014-2020 spending plan amid a row between net recipients of the bloc’s aid and net contributors who seek a leaner budget.

Disagreements between Romania’s President and the centre-left government of Prime Minister Ponta are not new.

Earlier, Ponta and Basescu rowed 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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