Romania makes second nomination for commissioner

  
Traian Băsescu and Victor Ponta

Romanian President Traian Băsescu expressed outrage upon learning at the 30 August EU summit that Prime Minister Victor Ponta had made a second nomination for commissioner. It was previously announced that both the President and the Prime Minister back Dacian Cioloș, the present EU Commissioner for Agriculture, for a second term, hopefully with the same portfolio.

Băsescu said he had “learned from Brussels” and was extremely surprised that the government had made a second nomination, in addition to that of Cioloș, and accused it of not having respected the nomination procedure. Băsescu, a centre-right politician and Ponta, leader of the ruling socialist party (PSD), are constantly at odds over issues. Romania will hold a presidential election on 2 November and Ponta is widely tipped to win it. His main challenger is Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German and candidate for President of the centre-right Romanian coalition PNL-PDL.

>> Read: Ethnic German candidate brings suspense to Romania’s presidential race

Sources told EurActiv Romania a few days ago that the Romanian government might put forward other candidates if Cioloș doesn’t get the agriculture portfolio. They had suggested that the Romanian prime minister might be willing to promote Corina Creţu, the current vice-president of the European Parliament, for a commissioner post.

>> Read: Sources: Romania has other candidates if Cioloș doesn’t get agriculture

Official sources told HotNews Romania that indeed, the second nominee is Creţu. However, Ponta refused to confirm this information.

Ponta is quoted as saying that Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker informed him that it is very unlikely that a commissioner who would stay on would get the same portfolio as in the Barroso team.

Ponta however adds that “the first choice of Romania remains agriculture and Mr Dacian Cioloș”.

He also said that he knew what the decision of Juncker regarding the Romania would be, but could not announce it before him.

“The most important thing is that Romania obtains an important portfolio. The internal battles are less important,” the Prime Minister said.

After the publication of this article, a Romanian website published the letter by Ponta to Juncker dated 30 July, in which the Prime Minister says that if Cioloș cannot be given the agriculture portfolio or regional development, then Romania’s candidate is Corina Creţu, for a portfolio to be further discussed. 

Romanian diplomatic sources said that in case Juncker opts for the female candidate, Bucharest would opt for the social affairs portfolio, coupled with a Vice President statute. A second choice appears to be the portfolio currently held by Bulgaria's Kristalina Georgieva - humanitarian aid and crisis response.

Timeline: 
  • 9 or 10 Sept. (expected): Junker to announce members and portfolios of the next Commission 
  • 1 Nov.: Mogherini to take on the role as the EU's High Representative.
  • 1 Dec.: Tusk to take on the role as Council President.
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