EU wants 'facts, not promises' from Romanian PM
(BRUSSELS) - Saying it remained "very" worried about democracy in Romania, Brussels demanded Wednesday that Prime Minister Victor Ponta deliver "facts, not promises" proving his respect of the rule of law.
The European Commission was "still very much worried on the state of democracy in Romania", said Europe's justice commissioner Viviane Reding.
"The president of the commission (Jose Manuel Barroso) has made a very strong declaration about his worries and has handed over a to-do list" of 11 items, she said.
The commission "will look at the facts, not the promises, implementation of the laws, not the letter", she added.
Brussels a week ago demanded proof of Romania's commitment to democratic values and the rule of law, saying recent actions by Ponta's new centre-left government "have shaken our trust".
The commission has been involved in a tense exchange with the young premier over his government's controversial bid this month to impeach conservative President Traian Basescu, and change by decree the powers of the constitutional court.
The row over Basescu -- who has been suspended pending a referendum Sunday on his impeachment -- has triggered Romania's worst crisis since it emerged from communist dictatorship just over two decades ago.
Ponta was handed the "to-do" list during talks in Brussels two weeks ago, in which he was told that the EU member state, which joined in 2004, must fall in line with the bloc's basic values.
In Bucharest meanwhile, Ponta said he had written to the commission to complain over Basescu's "antidemocratic" behaviour after his supporters announced they would boycott Sunday's vote to decide the fate of the head of state.
The opposition Liberal Democrats called on voters Tuesday to boycott the referendum, saying the ruling coalition plans to rig the vote.
But if turnout is below 50 percent, it will be declared invalid, leading per se to the reinstatement of Basescu, suspended by Parliament earlier this month.
Latest polls show 68 percent of people are expected to vote in favour of impeaching Basescu, once one of Romania's most popular politicians but whose ratings plummeted amid austerity cuts in 2010.
Ponta said he hoped his rival's decisions would be seen as a threat to the democratic process and pledged he would enact "entirely" the 11 items on the EU to-do list.
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