If you’ve met a single Romanian in your life, chances are you’ve learned of their people’s greatest enemy – the draft (curentul). Leave the window or door slightly ajar, and invariably there will be a draft threatening to lock up your lower back, give you headaches or colds, and generally just leave you in a poor predicament, health-wise.
The entire Romanian Council presidency has been one major illiberal and authoritarian draft, and Europe needs to pay attention if it cares about its health and future.
Whereas most analysts thought the PSD-ALDE coalition would behave with the spotlight on them, they have actually ratcheted up their assault of the justice system and on Romanian democracy itself
Terrified of what Kovesi at EU level might do to their criminal enterprises, they’ve lobbied EU governments hard in order to not vote for the Romanian candidate in COREPER. Without this lobby, Kovesi could have won the support of the Council, and would by now already be nominated as the first EPPO chief (after the Parliament affirmed its support for her).
They’ve passed one of the inanest executive orders right before the presidency began in order to quickly raise funds for the national budget, after raising salaries and pensions with no means of funding it earlier in their mandate. The infamous OUG 114 added blanket taxes across sectors without any public consultation or dialogue. This will cut investment across sectors.
They’ve passed another executive order on the judicial system, notably changing the national procedure for nominating EPPO candidates and instituting a new Section to investigate prosecutors and judges. This section is unaccountable except to PSD/ALDE and is their solution to taking over the justice system again (as it was pre-2004) in order to save high profile figures like Liviu Dragnea (but not just).
Notice how the government coalition is ruling by executive order, with no transparency, debate, or accountability.
Through the Electoral Committee, a body close to the ruling parties, it blocked the new opposition alliance USR PLUS, one of their main threats in the 3 upcoming elections which will determine whether Romania remains an EU democracy or is dragged back into a geopolitical no-mans-land between Brussels and illiberal forces from the East, be they Russian or Chinese. An appeal decision for USR PLUS is pending.
Meanwhile, the EPP is still deliberating what to do about Orban’s Fidesz. For similar abuses and manoeuvres, PSD is receiving a fraction of the attention Hungary and Poland did
The S&D is miming distaste for PSD’s actions but is in effect continuing to support them and their dismantling of Romania’s democracy. Timmermans talks a big game about supporting the rule of law, but so far his actions or lack thereof have been louder.
While the electoral commission’s decision is not final, PSD’s willingness to threaten the integrity of the European elections is further proof of how far they’re willing to go in order to not lose hold of power after having dropped in the polls from a regular 45-50% to a whopping 25%.
Turning a blind eye to PSD’s trampling of Romanian democratic norms and institutions will invariably come back to haunt European leaders. There can be no Europe without free elections and independent justice systems.