Romanian Ruling Party Frozen Out of EU Faction Over Rule of Law

Andra Timu and Irina Vilcu

(Bloomberg) -- Romania’s governing party received a rebuke before next month’s European Parliament elections as its relations with the assembly’s second-biggest group were frozen over concerns about democratic standards.

The Party of European Socialists, or PES, said it won’t hold events with its Romanian contingent until at least June, when discussions over its membership will take place. Romania has faced European Union criticism for trying to loosen punishments for crooked officials. The head of the ruling Social Democrats has one criminal conviction and is appealing a second.

Romania is the latest eastern European nation to feel resistance to its attempts to silence domestic courts, with Poland and Hungary also in hot water and some in Brussels pushing to reduce development funding for the bloc’s miscreant members. PES’s move echoes last month’s suspension of Fidesz, led by Hungary’s self-styled “illiberal” Prime Minister Viktor Orban, from the European People’s Party.

“Until the Romanian government clarifies its commitment to the rule of law and follows the European Commission’s recommendations, the PES leadership will consider relations with the Social Democrats frozen,” PES said Thursday in a statement.

The Social Democrats said PES’s criticism is aimed at winning more votes in May’s elections.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.net;Irina Vilcu in Bucharest at isavu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at adudik@bloomberg.net, Andrew Langley, Michael Winfrey

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