EU Budget: Another Ponta and Băsescu face-off over Brussels
20 November 2012
The campaign for Romania's December 9 legislative elections is dominated by discussions over the 2014-2020 European Union budget. Following yet another row over whether Prime Minister Victor Ponta or President Traian Băsescu will would attend the November 22-23 European Council meeting (Băsescu, in the end), both also bickered over whether or not to veto the EU budget. Ponta is in favour of such a move if Romania's EU funding is cut but Băsescu disagrees.
If Romanian leaders wanted to do something useful, "they would have found measures ensuring that Romania spends the EU's billions efficiently," suggests Romanian daily Adevărul. But Romania, for which the 2007-2013 budget earmarked 19.66 billion euros in European funds, is at the bottom of the list as concerns their use, the paper notes, adding that, under the Băsescu presidency, Bucharest —
... has achieved a glorious actual absorption rate of 4% and 10% on paper. The Bulgarians have outstripped us and the Poles could even mock us, if they did not fear that Romania's negative record might lead the countries of Western Europe to decide to substantially reduce the amount of the cohesion funds.
Adevărul wonders how much it will cost Romania to export its domestic political quarrels —
Romania has become a bad example for Europe and is used by interested countries to prove that the money of the wealthy must no longer be spent to reduce the gap between the developed and the lesser-developed states. Adopting a policy of reducing the budgets at the next European Council is, in fact, a blow to the idea of a more integrated, stronger Europe.
For the paper, the failure to negotiate an acceptable EU budget would signify the end of Romania's chances to reduce the gaps or to approach "Old Europe's" standards of prosperity.