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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Good cop, bad cop

We seem to have a good cop, bad cop routine going on here in Romania – with the Romanian PM (Ponta) being sweetness and light to Europe; whilst the guy who was positioned first as Senate leader and then, a week later, appointed by virtue of that position as interim President of the country taking a tougher line.
After talks in Brussels on Thursday with, European commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said that Romania's government "must respect the full independence of the judiciary, restore the powers of the Constitutional Court and ensure that its decisions are observed".
According to his press spokesman he also gave Ponta a list of steps he must take to restore confidence in his government's commitment to EU standards of the rule of law including -
  • repealing recent decisions curbing the powers of the constitutional court to check new or amended laws;
  • stopping the politically selective use of the official journal, in which legislation has to be published in order to take effect; and
  • ensuring the appointment of an Ombudsman who has the support of all political parties
But Romania’s interim president Crin Antonescu (National Liberal party), giving his first press conference yesterday in that role said: "The president of Romania, even the interim president, doesn't take orders... from anyone except parliament and the Romanian people." (someone needs to brief this guy about the implications of being a member of the European Union!!). Antonescu denied reports Barroso had given Ponta a "to-do list".
"The 10 or 11 commandments from Barroso don't exist, because we have no such document and because it would represent an unacceptable and unimaginable overreach of the European Commission's powers, which someone with as much experience and prestige as Mr Barroso would not have done." (He may be correct that no document exists but hasn’t he been following the developments in Hungary - some of whose government decisions have been referred by the European Commission to theEuropean Court of Justice )
There is actually some confusion about what actions Barroso actually set out. According to today's Hotnews.ro these are the requests which Ponta has promised to respond to -

  • No head of the National Anti-Corruption Department be designated or no new prosecutor-general named during the interim Presidency of Antonescu
  • No pardon be issued during the interim Presidency of Antonescu - a hint at the homes of former PM Adrian Nastase, the current PM's mentor Victor Ponta, who was recently convicted in the case Corruption
  • no Minister should hold office who has received a sentence regarding their personal integrity (don't ask me what this is).  Deputies who have final decisions of incompatibility and conflict of interests must resign also (as in the case of MPs Sergiu Andon and Florin Pislaru)
  • The People's Lawyer (Ombudsman) must be a person who has the support of all political parties
  • The Powers of the Constitutional Court recently revoked must all be returned and the emergency Ordinance annulled
  • The rules to validated the referendum to impeach the president must be re-established,
  • the Official Gazette no longer must be used for the "selective" official publication of Decisions
Coincidentally the European Commission next week will issue its regular report on the so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, which follows progress in combating corruption and organised crime.
And the president of one of Europe's top bodies on constitutional and human will next week head up a fact-finding mission to Romania. Jean-Claude Mignon, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, or PACE, will be in Bucharest on July 18 and 19, the assembly said in a statement Friday. PACE pushes for improved human and democratic rights across its 47 member states and in other nations. Mignon is set to meet with Ponta, Basescu, the president of the constitutional court and other officials.

And it will be next week before Parliament meets to decide how to reconcile their decision to change the referendum rules (simple majority of those voting decides) with the Constitutional Court's (new) requirement that an outcome will require a turnout of 50% plus one (very difficult to achieve with such an outdated electoral register)

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