Less than two months before Romania assumes the rotating presidency of the European Council, the country’s EU affairs minister, Victor Negrescu, has resigned.
Mr Negrescu, at 33 the youngest member of the Romanian cabinet, had been tasked with coordinating preparations for the presidency and his resignation is likely to cause further concern in Brussels regarding Bucharest’s ability to successfully take on the agenda-setting role the presidency demands.
Mr Negrescu has not given any formal explanation for the reasons behind his departure but it is widely believed that he was seen by leading members of the ruling PSD-ALDE coalition as being too soft on Brussels. The European Parliament is soon expected to debate a motion condemning Romania’s ongoing attacks on the rule of law, while on November 13 the European Commission will publish its latest Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) report, which assesses progress made in Romania and Bulgaria in regards to judicial reform, the fight against corruption and the fight against organised crime.
A Romanian news agency, G4Media, has reported that the CVM report will be highly critical of Romania, more so than Bulgaria.
Dan Barna, the leader of the opposition Save Romania Union (USR), called Mr Negrescu’s resignation a dereliction of duty.
“To resign less than two months before taking on the presidency is unforgivable,” said Mr Barna. “This resignation sums up the way in which the coalition rules the country. Mr Negrescu has resigned because he knows the presidency will be a failure and he does not want to be held responsible.”