Romania feud as deposed PM seeks to submit new EU nominee

Bucharest (AFP) –


Romania's deposed prime minister said Tuesday she would submit a new nominee for European commissioner, a move the country's president slammed as "irresponsible" after her government was sacked two weeks ago in a no-confidence vote.

Incoming European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen is targeting a December 1 start date for the EU's executive arm, a month later than initially planned, as the vetting of the 28 commissioners, one for each member country, has taken longer than expected.

Viorica Dancila, whose left-wing government collapsed earlier this month, said she will recommend lawmaker Victor Negrescu, 34, as Romania's EU commissioner, after two previous nominations were rejected.

Dancila posted a letter on Facebook from von der Leyen dated Monday that called for a new candidate to be proposed "without delay".

President Klaus Iohannis dismissed Dancila's plan as "irresponsible, defying Romanian citizens and our European partners".

"Viorica Dancila has no legitimacy to submit a new candidate on Romania's behalf for the role of European commissioner," he said in a statement.

Dancila's Social Democratic Party (PSD) was toppled in an October 10 no-confidence vote.

Iohannis then tasked Ludovic Orban, chief of the National Liberal Party (PNL), with forming a government, but his line-up needs to seek the approval of parliament next Monday.

PNL, which only holds 96 of the 465 seats in parliament, said one if its priorities would be to propose an EU commissioner, after the first two nominations made by PSD -- Rovana Plumb and Dan Nica -- were rejected.

Von der Leyen said in her letter she "would encourage the Romanian government to present a female candidate".

Negrescu was a member of the European Parliament from 2014 to 2017 when he returned to Bucharest to be minister of European affairs.

He resigned from the job after less than a year and almost a month before Romania was due to take over the EU's rotating presidency, a move that surprised his PSD colleagues.