Constitutional review, US missile defence systems, and the Danube Strategy

A new Constitution – A universal panacea?

Among the changes brought by the enter­ing into force of the Lis­bon Treaty, the Roman­ian author­i­ties are try­ing to mod­i­fy the Roman­ian con­sti­tu­tion in order to adjust its pro­vi­sions to the new real­i­ties. The main argu­ment is the Novem­ber 2009 ref­er­en­dum in which “Roma­ni­ans pro­nounced them­selves for a uni­cam­er­al par­lia­ment and for the reduc­tion of the num­ber of par­lia­men­tar­i­ans to a max­i­mum of 300.”11Pres­i­dent Tra­ian Băs­es­cu, press release: Declar­aţia de presă a preşed­in­telui României, Tra­ian Băs­es­cu, la finalul con­sultărilor cu par­tidele politice şi for­maţi­u­nile politice reprezen­tate în Par­la­men­tul României, 15 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.presidency.ro/index.php?_RID=det&tb=date&id=11944&_PRID=search (last access: 17 May 2010). Hav­ing those “red lines” in mind, which they can­not sur­pass, gov­ern­ment offi­cials launched on 21 April 2010 a project of law regard­ing the revi­sion of the Con­sti­tu­tion.22Roman­ian Pres­i­den­cy, Proiect de lege privind revizuirea Con­sti­tuţiei României, 21 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.presidency.ro/static/Proiect_Revizuire_Constitutie.pdf (last access: 19 May 2010). The main idea of the project, as stat­ed by Emil Boc, the Roman­ian Prime Min­is­ter, would be the cre­ation of a sin­gle cham­ber, the Cham­ber of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, made up of 300 elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Oth­er main ideas regard­ed the sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of the leg­isla­tive process and the estab­lish­ment of a clear­er rela­tion between the Pres­i­dent and the par­lia­ment. The project imme­di­ate­ly faced staunch resis­tance from the oppo­si­tion par­ties. One of the most crit­i­cised ideas was that of a uni­cam­er­al par­lia­ment. The Social Demo­c­rat Par­ty wants to main­tain the bicam­er­al sys­tem, claim­ing that the Lis­bon Treaty stip­u­lates the exis­tence of an upper cham­ber made of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the regions.33Vic­tor Pon­ta, SDP pres­i­dent, in a Press Con­fer­ence on 15 March 2010: “First of all, the Social-Demo­c­rat Par­ty wants that the struc­ture of the Par­lia­ment remain in the form in which the Deputy Cham­ber, select­ed by uni­nom­i­nal vote by the cit­i­zens, trough a direct vote, to be sup­port­ed, as the Treaty of Lis­bon stip­u­lates, by an upper cham­ber which will rep­re­sent the local com­mu­ni­ties and that will be made of mem­bers elect­ed by the local and depart­men­tal coun­selors, prac­ti­cal­ly by our local elect­ed peo­ple.” See: Vic­tor Pon­ta: press con­fer­ence, 15 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.psd.ro/newsroom.php?newi_id=3245 (last access: 18 May 2010). The dis­pute remains open, being recent­ly over­shad­owed by the aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures announced by the Roman­ian Pres­i­dent and government.

US Ballistic missile defence system in Romania – an ongoing debate

Romania’s deci­sion on 4 Feb­ru­ary 2010 to host ele­ments of the Amer­i­can bal­lis­tic mis­sile defence sys­tem in Europe on its nation­al ter­ri­to­ry has sparked off sig­nif­i­cant debates, which have high­light­ed both the ben­e­fits and costs involved. The Roman­ian Pres­i­dent assured the pub­lic that the mis­sile sys­tem was not aimed against Rus­sia and that it was meant to pro­tect the entire nation­al ter­ri­to­ry against threats orig­i­nat­ing from the Mid­dle East with land-based rock­et sys­tems.44Mihail Iones­cu: Coun­try Reports, Bal­lis­tic Mis­sile Defense Sys­tem In Europe: The Roman­ian Com­po­nent, avail­able at: http://www.kas.de/proj/home/pub/29/2/-/dokument_id-18978/index.html (last access: 24 March 2010).

Reac­tions from the Roman­ian pub­lic opin­ion were also prompt. It has been high­light­ed that the author­i­ties should have launched a pub­lic infor­ma­tion cam­paign well ahead of the announce­ment of the actu­al deci­sion was made. The mass media insist­ed that pub­lic opin­ion lacked impor­tant infor­ma­tion on the details of the bilat­er­al agree­ment. Ques­tions were raised as to the finan­cial and secu­ri­ty impli­ca­tions of the deci­sion, coun­ter­ar­gu­ments point­ing out the pos­si­ble incon­ve­nien­cies of a “freeze of rela­tions with Rus­sia, as well as the neces­si­ty to cor­rect­ly eval­u­ate Moscow’s response.”55Ibid. As a con­se­quence, nation­al author­i­ties and experts have grad­u­al­ly start­ed inform­ing the pub­lic with regard to details for under­stand­ing the need to enhance nation­al secu­ri­ty through a bal­lis­tic mis­sile shield sys­tem, as part of inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions (ref­er­ence was made to the strate­gic part­ner­ship with the USA signed in July 1997),66Ibid. and the agen­da of spe­cif­ic bilat­er­al nego­ti­a­tions. The imple­men­ta­tion of ele­ments of the US bal­lis­tic mis­sile defence sys­tem on Roman­ian ter­ri­to­ry has there­fore start­ed being con­sid­ered as a con­sol­i­da­tion of nation­al secu­ri­ty, and in strong cor­re­la­tion with the estab­lish­ment of a sim­i­lar com­po­nent in Poland and Bul­gar­ia, both NATO mem­ber states with a rel­e­vant posi­tion in the Alliance’s east­ern flank.

Danube Strategy: a regional instrument with benefits for local communities

The Danube Strat­e­gy has been impor­tant this year, con­sid­er­ing that Roma­nia is cur­rent­ly defin­ing its posi­tion towards this doc­u­ment. In order to allow for con­tri­bu­tions from region­al actors, the Roman­ian Min­istry of For­eign Affairs has invit­ed local com­mu­ni­ties to have their say on the Strat­e­gy. Dur­ing a meet­ing with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of local author­i­ties, the Roman­ian Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs Teodor Bacon­schi referred to the Danube Strat­e­gy as “a com­mu­ni­tar­i­an instru­ment with a region­al pro­file allow­ing Danube’s trans­for­ma­tion into a Euro­pean con­nec­tor.”77Roman­ian Min­istry of For­eign Affairs, Press release: Întreved­erea min­istru­lui Afac­er­ilor Externe, Teodor Bacon­schi, cu reprezen­tanţii autorităţilor locale, pe tema Strate­giei UE pen­tru regiunea Dunării, 12 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.mae.ro/index.php?unde=doc&id=43540&idlnk=&cat=4 (last access: 17 May 2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1Pres­i­dent Tra­ian Băs­es­cu, press release: Declar­aţia de presă a preşed­in­telui României, Tra­ian Băs­es­cu, la finalul con­sultărilor cu par­tidele politice şi for­maţi­u­nile politice reprezen­tate în Par­la­men­tul României, 15 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.presidency.ro/index.php?_RID=det&tb=date&id=11944&_PRID=search (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 2Roman­ian Pres­i­den­cy, Proiect de lege privind revizuirea Con­sti­tuţiei României, 21 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.presidency.ro/static/Proiect_Revizuire_Constitutie.pdf (last access: 19 May 2010).
  • 3Vic­tor Pon­ta, SDP pres­i­dent, in a Press Con­fer­ence on 15 March 2010: “First of all, the Social-Demo­c­rat Par­ty wants that the struc­ture of the Par­lia­ment remain in the form in which the Deputy Cham­ber, select­ed by uni­nom­i­nal vote by the cit­i­zens, trough a direct vote, to be sup­port­ed, as the Treaty of Lis­bon stip­u­lates, by an upper cham­ber which will rep­re­sent the local com­mu­ni­ties and that will be made of mem­bers elect­ed by the local and depart­men­tal coun­selors, prac­ti­cal­ly by our local elect­ed peo­ple.” See: Vic­tor Pon­ta: press con­fer­ence, 15 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.psd.ro/newsroom.php?newi_id=3245 (last access: 18 May 2010).
  • 4Mihail Iones­cu: Coun­try Reports, Bal­lis­tic Mis­sile Defense Sys­tem In Europe: The Roman­ian Com­po­nent, avail­able at: http://www.kas.de/proj/home/pub/29/2/-/dokument_id-18978/index.html (last access: 24 March 2010).
  • 5Ibid.
  • 6Ibid.
  • 7Roman­ian Min­istry of For­eign Affairs, Press release: Întreved­erea min­istru­lui Afac­er­ilor Externe, Teodor Bacon­schi, cu reprezen­tanţii autorităţilor locale, pe tema Strate­giei UE pen­tru regiunea Dunării, 12 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.mae.ro/index.php?unde=doc&id=43540&idlnk=&cat=4 (last access: 17 May 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.