[JURIST] President of the European Commission (EC) [official website] Jose Manuel Barroso [official website] on Thursday urged Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta [BBC profile] to respect the full independence of the judiciary [press release] by restoring the powers of the Constitutional Court of Romania [official website, in Romanian]. Since the court last week approved the vote [JURIST report] to suspend President Traian Basescu [official website, in Romanian], the EC and the US have had concerns about Romania maintaining its democracy. Barroso delivered the EC’s desire for Romania to maintain a system of checks and balances. Barroso also suggested the Romanian government appoint an Ombudsman with cross-party support and follow an open procedure for appointing a new Prosecutor and Director of the Anti-Corruption Directorate. Ponta assured Barroso that the Romanian government will make every effort to follow the EC’s suggestions. A report will be issued as to the progress of Romania on July 18.
On Wednesday the Constitutional Court stated that at least 50 percent [JURIST report] of the electorate must turn out for the July 29 national referendum to decide whether Basescu should be ousted from the presidency. The Romanian Parliament [official website] voted to impeach [JURIST report] Basescu last Friday. Last week the Constitutional Court also accused Ponta of overstepping his authority [JURIST report] by attempting to seize control over the judiciary system. Also last week Ponta ignored a decision by the court finding Basescu should be the representative of the country at the European Council meeting in Brussels. In 2009 the Constitutional Court declared incumbent President Basescu winner of the country’s disputed presidential election [JURIST report]. Basescu, who has been president of Romania since 2004, has survived impeachment once before. In 2007 Basescu was reinstated after the high court certified the results of a referendum in which 74 percent of voters rejected Basescu’s impeachment [JURIST report].