NARRATIVES: 1. The EU is strongarming Romania to renounce its own Constitution. 2. PNRR will lead to Romania losing its sovereignty. 3. Romania will be destroyed and turned in to a region. 4. Private property will be abolished, the education system will be destroyed, and the intellectual elites will move to other countries.
BACKGROUND: On December 21, 2021, the Court of Justice of the European Union issued a ruling reasserting the prevalence of European law over national legislation. More specifically, Romanian courts of law may hand out sentences that go against the Constitutional Court as long as they fall in line with European legislation. The Constitutional Court of Romania responded, arguing that in order for the CJEU ruling to become fully valid, the Constitution of Romania needs to be revised.
The dispute was kindled against the backdrop of a long history of discontentment and criticism at local level with respect to maintaining the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Romania, whereby the European Commission monitors the Romanian judiciary. The most vehement critics were politicians who’ve had run-in with the law, certain commentators and journalists, promoted first and foremost by TV stations such as Antena 3 and RTV, the former tied to Dan Voiculescu, who was handed a prison sentence himself, while the latter owned by fugitive Sebastian Ghiță. The criticism and disgruntlement were often disguised as sovereigntist rhetoric, which on the one hand recalls the communist-era official dictum about “non-interference in domestic affairs”, while on the other hand is reminiscent of certain narratives actively promoted by Russian propaganda.
In the interview for news.ro, the head of the European Commission’s Office in Bucharest, Ramona Chiriac, also spoke about the CJEU ruling, drawing attention to the prevalence of European legislation.
In the same interview, Ramona Chiriac also discussed the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, whereby Romania will be awarded nearly 30 billion Euro, provided that it abides by the rule of law and EU regulations, continues to implement reforms and achieves 507 set targets. PNRR was negotiated with Brussels before the current ruling coalition took office, and PSD wants to renegotiate its terms. However, this option has been ruled out – a change of government does not provide reasonable cause for operating any modification to the plan.
Sputnik.mid is one the Kremlin’s propaganda channels, ardently promoting sovereigntist and disinformation narratives regarding the EU and NATO. The Sputnik.mid website regularly quotes public figures from Romania, usually in a positive light, who tackle similar issues (and others as well: anti-vaxx discourse, advocates of the traditional family, etc.).
Diana Șoșoacă is one of the most controversial Romanian politicians at the moment. She too is being promoted by Sputnik, who designated her the political personality of 2021 and was the first publication to announce the Senator’s plans to run for the office of president.
PURPOSE: To undermine people’s confidence in the EU and promote sovereigntist rhetoric.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The head of the European Commission’s Office in Romania never said that Romania should renounce its Constitution or sovereignty, but merely that “the recent decision of the European Court of Justice has reaffirmed a principle that we have made crystal clear: the prevalence of European law over national law, a fundamental principle without which the EU cannot function and which every member state has pledged to observe upon being accepted in the EU. The prevalence of European legislation stipulates that national judges may disregard Constitutional Court rulings as long as they are contrary to European law.” Ramona Chiriac added that “the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) and the European Rule of Law Mechanism […] stipulate the principle of prevalence of European law.” As regards the consequences of breaching the prevalence of European legislation, Ramona Chiriac simply replied “no” when asked if “Romania can still hope to join the Schengen Area without abiding by this CJEU ruling?” Worth noting is that the prevalence of European legislation is also clearly stipulated as a principle in the Constitution of Romania, under Chapter VI, Euro-Atlantic Integration. As a matter of fact, Romania wanted to join the EU and the political class and the population knew from the very outset that EU membership also comes with a pledge to observe and enforce European values and regulations.
In no way does PNRR reflect on Romania’s sovereignty – Bucharest simply has to observe a set of clear-cut rules so that Brussels can make sure the money will only be used to develop Romania, in a transparent way, and will not be embezzled. Therefore, the requirements set under PNRR actually benefit the population.
None of Diana Șoșoacă’s statements has any sound and factual basis: private property was never under threat in the EU, and in Romania it is guaranteed by the Constitution. Difficulties in the education system are the result of policies implemented by Romanian authorities and of the activity of people working in the system, and thus have nothing to do with the EU. The exodus of highly-trained professionals has been facilitated by free travel conditions, and is motivated by people’s search for better economic opportunities and their disgruntlement with the current political system and past attempts at subordinating the judiciary.