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Romania court says president to attend EU summits

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(BUCHAREST) - Romania's constitutional court ruled Wednesday President Traian Basescu is entitled to attend EU summits, a ruling contested by left-wing prime minister Victor Ponta.

Basescu on Monday asked the Court to rule on EU representation, after Ponta insisted he should attend the summit to begin Thursday in Brussels.

"In the exercise of his constitutional prerogatives, the president of Romania participates in meetings of the European Council, in his capacity as head of state," the court ruled after hours of deliberations.

"This prerogative can be explicitly transferred by the president to the prime minister," it added.

But Ponta criticised the decision, calling into question the legitimacy of the judges appointed by the centre-right Basescu.

"The ruling is no surprise since we all know that the judges named by Basescu have always answered his requests," Ponta told reporters.

"Of course I will go to Brussels tomorrow (Thursday). I hope president Basescu understands that the dispute he has sparked is harming Romania's interests," he added.

The two men have been at odds since Ponta's centre-left coalition took power at the beginning of May after the former centre-right government fell on a no-confidence vote.

On June 12, parliament adopted a statement recommending that Ponta attend EU meetings on economic, social and fiscal issues while Basescu should go to those devoted to security and foreign affairs.

But Basescu immediately rejected parliament's move, telling a press conference "it violates the Constitution and has no legal value".

The president did not immediately comment on the Court's ruling.

But the speaker of the Senate Vasile Blaga, a leader of Basescu's Liberal-Democrats (PDL, opposition), slammed Ponta's reaction as "contemptuous of the rule of law and of the Constitutional Court."

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