Disappointed by socialist establishment, Romania’s Ponta starts new party

Ponta: "ProRomania is a very pro-European Party. So, we will be willing to join only a European political family which is promoting a more integrated Europe and a progressive agenda." [ROBERT GHEMENT/EPA]

Romania’s former Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who has left the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) and formed his own ProRomania party, blamed EU socialist leaders (PES) for their “guilty silence” over the grave breaches of rule of law by the Romanian government.

“Me personally and the ProRomania leadership are very disappointed with the guilty silence of the Party of European Socialists (PES) leaders regarding the grave breaches of rule of law, European and socialist values by the Romanian government,” Ponta told EURACTIV.com.

“In this respect, we just hope that PES will again put values in front of very materialistic interests regarding Romania,” he said.

A former leader of PSD with political experience in the EU socialist family, Ponta recently started his own political project. The party’s aim is to work together with all the pro-European forces to protect and improve the European project.

“ProRomania is a very pro-European party. So, we will be willing to join only a European political family which is promoting a more integrated Europe and a progressive agenda,” Ponta told EURACTIV.

At the national level, ProRomania aims for Romania to play an active role within the EU while ensuring that “EU requirements in terms of economic competitiveness, social solidarity and rule of law are finally fulfilled”.

As Romania prepares to hold the rotating EU presidency from 1 January 2019, the discussion on the rule of law in the country has raised eyebrows in Brussels.

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The European Union on Tuesday warned Romania to respect EU democratic values before it assumes the bloc’s rotating presidency in January, or risk undermining its bid to join Europe’s passport-free zone.

Romania’s socialist government has been under fire after its attempt to change the country’s anti-corruption laws and provide a shield for politicians, triggering strong reactions and protests across the country.

“I hope Romania joins the Schengen zone, but it must not mortgage that by turning away from the (European) principles on rule of law,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on 22 October during a debate in the European Parliament.

In September, the Social Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D) lashed out against Romania’s Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă but so far, no Hungary-style resolution for the activation of Article 7 has been taken.

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People are not guilty

EURACTIV asked Ponta if he thought it would be right to activate Article 7 against the Romanian government.

He replied it was obvious that the Romanian government was now adopting policies which go against European values and the rule of law.

“But is it also obvious that Romanian people are neither guilty nor responsible nor supportive of this government activity.”

“ProRomania is asking European institutions to take all necessary measures regarding the government but no decisions which could harm the Romanian people […] Article 7 would only give more firepower to the furious anti-European attacks launched by PSD and government representatives,” Ponta warned.

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No discussion to join ECR

EURACTIV was informed that Richard Milsom, chief executive of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE), also participated in the ProRomania congress last week.

Asked if that meant a political flirt with this parliamentary group, Ponta said Milsom was invited by Laurentiu Rebega, a Romanian MEP who is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).

“Some members have a friendship relationship with Richard, but ProRomania is a pro-European progressive party and has never initiated a process to join the ECR. ProRomania is opting for a progressive, pro-European political family,” Ponta said.

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