Why President Iohannis and the PPE want to bury the European Parliament’s…

Why President Iohannis and the PPE want to bury the European Parliament’s resolution on un-democratic excesses in Romania

On Tuesday, President Klaus Iohannis said in Strasbourg that it would be „extremely unusual” for the European Parliament to vote on a resolution on a Member State which is about to take over the rotating EU presidency. In other words, it would be strange for Romania to take over the presidency of the EU on 1 January, and for the Brussels Parliament to sanction the government for major deviances from democracy. Shortly after the President’s statement, Siegfried Mureşan, liberal MEP, who is also a spokesman for the EPP, said that „it would be preferable not to have a European Parliament resolution on Romania.” What happened?

Before attempting answers and possible explanations, here are some clarifications.

The Greens Group of the EP initiated the debate in this forum on Justice in Romania, on the respect for the rule of law, and on the violences exercised by gendarmery on August 10th, considered a serious deviance from democracy. Initially supported by the PPE, the debate included the hearing of Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă in the European Parliament three weeks ago. This event placed Romania even closer to Poland and Hungary, the EU problem countries group.

And now, for the possible possible explanations. Why does President Klaus Iohannis not want a resolution?

Klaus Iohannis tried to avoid accusations that he is working against Romania. Note that the answer came to a question from Antena 3. The reporter wanted to know if the head of state would lobby, and how he would get involved so that Romania could avoid this resolution. Antena 3’s rhetoric is well known. Anyone who, in Brussels, „spits at”, or „speaks badly” about the powers that be in Bucharest, automatically becomes the enemy of the country and is crucified in the media. However, to uphold a resolution condemning, not the country, but the mismanagement of a government, equals, in Antena 3’s eyes, a national betrayal. Antena 3 already praises the president’s performance, Mugur Ciuvica declared him „better and better” and gave him a congratulatory note.

The President no longer wants complications at a time when Romania makes the European agenda. G4Media.ro has published the schedule of visits that European officials will begin making in Bucharest in preparation for the EU presidency. However, a tough resolution on Romania, even without the activation of Article 7, as has already happened in the case of Poland and Hungary, would seriously affect Romania’s image, and diminish its capacity to manage the EU Presidency given the related political files. To all of this add the call of European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker to reach a consensus on anti-corruption by the end of the year.

No one in Brussels wants a third problem country in the EU, after Hungary and Poland. To condemn the power in Bucharest for seriously deviating from democracy is to admit yet another crisis within the Union. After all, any problem, once acknowledged, needs to be addressed. Brussels has already proved its worthlessness in two other cases. Therefore, it has every reason to run away from a new fire that, once lit, will be hard to put out.

In addition to all these problems, parliamentary arithmetic also intervenes. The text of a possible resolution will result from a negotiation between the major political groups in the European Parliament: the PPE, the socialists, the ALDE. The PPE does not hold the majority to impose a text , and ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt has always raised the issue of protocols when he talked about deviances in Romania. As a result, the text may eventually return against those currently championing it, and no one wishes to take the risk.

President Iohannis’s statement on a possible resolution can also be explained by the desire of not exporting Romania’s problems outside the country at such a high level. The head of state has told Strasbourg on several occasions that he will talk about the problems of justice or the rule of law in the country. He may have acted in the belief that problems need to be solved at home, but if that is the case, he could simply refrain from any statement on a possible resolution, not say that it does not need it .

Finally, the president’s non-confrontational attitude could be attributed to the fact that he has not completely renounced the idea of a career at the top of the EU after the end of his first term, even if he has announced for several months his intention to run for a second mandate.

None of these explanations will be of any consolation to all those who in January 2017 took to the streets to defend the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. What will President Klaus Iohannis and the Liberals (PPE) say to the hundreds of peaceful demonstrators beaten by gendarmes in Victoria Square, why did they abandon them in the European Parliament? Why did they not fight for the EU to condemn the abuses committed by a government against them? How about the tens of thousands of citizens who took to the streets? After all, here we are talking about the interest of the citizens they represent. The rest is political calculation or personal account.

I’m afraid they will not be able to answer all the questions above too easily. For this reason, President Klaus Iohannis’ public pleadings against a resolution on the problems in Romania is a political error that Liviu Dragnea and SDP will take full advantage of. If they escape this political sanction, they will have every reason to say that all talks about the crisis of democracy in Romania are meaningless, since the problem does not exist in Brussels. Dragnea can only thank Klaus Iohannis for his attitude in Strasbourg, and the SDP media supporters are already very enthusiastic.

Then, EU officials should not wonder that confidence in EU institutions has collapsed in just half a year, according to the latest Eurobarometer, by ten percentage points. Thus, the confidence of the Romanian citizens in the EU dropped to 49%, a point away from the minimum recorded last year.

And those who, once again, will feel abandoned will be Romania’s citizens.

Traducerea: Ruxandra Stoicescu

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