Romanian political crisis continues

Ohlsson on Romania: EU needs to toughen up

2:22 min

As Romania's political turmoil escalates and its president and prime minister are locked in a bitter power struggle, Sweden's EU Minister Birgitta Ohlsson says the European Union should be firmer with demands that Romania uphold freedom of speech and human rights.

Ohlsson called for tougher strategies from the union regarding human rights in new member states. She told Swedish Radio that while the requirements for countries to join the EU are strict regarding their responsibility to uphold human rights and democracy, it is harder to monitor countries once they are in the union.

Ohlsson said she wants to create a ranking system for EU member states based on human rights.

"We need to name and shame, and expose countries, and not be afraid of using sanctions", she said.

Ohlsson added that she thinks the EU should not shy away from using sanctions against countries that undermine human rights.

"If we don't deal the problems we have in Romania, we are setting a bad standard for countries who want to join the EU, such as Serbia and other Balkan countries. That's why it's important that we toughen up", she said.

The nature of the power struggle in Romania has raised questions about whether democracy is sufficient in the country, which joined the EU in 2007.

The right-wing conservative president Traian Basescu was replaced by left-leaning social democrat Victor Ponta in July, after the Romanian parliament voted for the impeachment of the president following international criticism and accusations that he was attempting to usurp power and undermine democracy in the country.

Now a referendum on Sunday will decide if the president, who is suspended from office pending the outcome of the public vote, will be made to step down.