BUCHAREST, Romania -- A top European Union official on Friday warned Romania that rancorous political feuding could overshadow its presidency of the EU.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that domestically Romania needs "an atmosphere and spirit of consensus," because "pointless polemics could cause multiple problems internally and externally."
When presiding over the EU, a nation "should muffle or leave to one side the internal political problems," he advised. "Romania shouldn't create a shadow by exporting domestic problems to Europe."
Later, Juncker said he was reassured that "internal problems" wouldn't harm Romania's presidency after talks with President Klaus Iohannis and Premier Viorica Dancila. He visited Romania to mark the beginning of its six-month presidency, which began on Jan. 1.
Dancila sought to assure Juncker that Romania remained committed to the EU amid concerns about the erosion of the rule of law and a contentious judicial overhaul that critics say will protect corrupt officials.
"We, together with the (European) Commission, should provide answers to citizens showing them that the only path is the pro-European one."
Iohannis, who supports efforts to root out corruption, was even more categorical.
"In Romania, the rule of law is not negotiable," he said.
Romania is keen to make a good impression as it assumes the rotating presidency for the first time since it joined in 2007.
Iohannis also said that feuding Romanian officials would find "a common approach" during the presidency.
"Domestic politics shouldn't affect things. ... I think this is understood by all sides," he said.