Romania took over the EU’s rotating presidency on Tuesday at a tumultuous time for the bloc and just days after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker voiced doubts about the country’s ability to do the job.
France 24 reports that Brussels is already at loggerheads with the increasingly populist government in Bucharest on multiple fronts and Juncker‘s comments highlight some of the strains.
Romania will be in charge for the next six months as the European Union faces a series of tricky tests – most notably Brexit, European parliamentary elections, and wrangling over the next budget.
The Eastern European nation, which takes the presidency for the first time as it succeeds Austria, has been one of the EU’s most consistently europhile member states since it joined in 2007.
But its left-wing government has recently begun to adopt the sort of nationalist rhetoric expounded by nearby Hungary and Poland.
All three are embroiled in disputes with the EU over controversial reforms that critics say undermine the rule of law.
Liviu Dragnea, head of the ruling Social Democrats (PSD) and widely seen as Romania’s most powerful man, has slammed the EU as “unfair”, claiming Brussels is seeking to deny Bucharest the “right to hold its own opinions”.