Romania threatens to veto EU's long-term budget

  

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta has threatened to veto the EU's 2014-2020 budget, calling the planned cuts in regional policy and agriculture “unacceptable” for his country.

Ponta made the remarks on Thursday after presenting his government's position on the EU budget to President Traian Băsescu, who will represent Romania at a summit next week dedicated to the EU's long-term finances.

Under the Van Rompuy proposal, first published by EurActiv France on Wednesday (14 November), severe cuts are foreseen in agriculture - a move immediately rejected by Paris - and in cohesion policy, which would certainly antagonise the member states from Central and Eastern Europe.

On the Common Agricultural Policy, Ponta said Romania wanted to reach a convergence level as regards subsidies or “direct payments”, in order to gradually reach the European average by 2020.

He also insisted on receiving a much higher amount in regional funding than is currently the case, as Romanian regions are among the poorest in the EU.

Ponta indicated that Romania’s objectives had been met by the European Commission’s initial budget proposal. In contrast, he called “unacceptable” the cuts in the subsequent compromise proposal made by Council President Herman Van Rompuy in the fields of agriculture and regional policy.

The Commission proposed €382.3 billion for agriculture and €376 billion for cohesion, or regional, funding. In contrast, the Van Rompuy proposal puts the figure at €364.5 billion for agriculture and €309.5 billion for cohesion.

Ponta said the government's position was "not negotiable", adding that Romania would express its opposition "in all the negotiations on this issue, by also invoking the use of the right of veto" in the event that Van Rompuy's proposal were adopted, Act Media reported.

He added that Băsescu shared the same position and ‘there is no disagreement' between the president and the government over this matter. He announced that Băsescu would represent the country at the summit.

On previous occasions, Ponta and Băsescu have disagreed over who should represent Romania at the highest EU table. This time, Ponta said he had accepted Băsescu’s argument that the head of state had a longer experience and was better fit for the task of defending the country’s interest at the budget talks. Băsescu has been president since 2004, while Ponta became prime minister in May.

War of words continue

But the two leaders are still in deep conflict, and Ponta may be happy to lay the blame on Băsescu in case of an unsatisfactory EU budget deal, ahead of the parliamentary election to be held on 9 December.

On Monday, Băsescu slammed Ponta’s entourage for having falsified the recent referendum aimed at impeaching him, as well of having seriously undermined the country’s democratic fundamentals.

Băsescu said the next European Commission report under the so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, put in place by the Commission to assist Romania with judiciary matters after its accession, would be “disastrous”.

Officially, the report, which will focus on eleven concerns raised by Commission President José Manuel Barroso, is due by the end of the year.

Commission sources told EurActiv that the report will be published after the election and after the OSCE observers would have made their assessment of the poll.

Romanians voted to impeach Băsescu in a referendum on 29 July, with 88.7% rejecting his leadership. However, the referendum was invalidated because turnout was below the required 50% threshold.

Timeline: 
  • 22-23 Nov.: Extraordinary summit to discuss EU budget for 2014-2020
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