Romanian MEP Dacian Cioloş has announced he will step down as chair of the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, pending confirmation of his victory in a national party leadership contest.
“I will step down as president of Renew Europe. I’ll go inform my colleagues next week,” Cioloș said to the Romanian press late Friday.
He will officially assume leadership of Romania’s liberal Union to Save Romania-PLUS (USR-PLUS) once the decision is formalized in a party congress this weekend.
He also used his statements to the media Friday to offer condolences to the families of the victims of a hospital fire that killed seven in the city of Constanța earlier that day. The lawmaker added his new focus will be a new political role in Bucharest.
“I don’t want to join the government, I want to run the party,” Cioloş said. “As things stand now, USR-PLUS will have an important role to play …. We must aim to win the presidential, local, parliamentary elections.”
The leadership change comes ahead of a no-confidence vote in the Romanian government, which could happen as soon as Tuesday, according to local media.
The USR-PLUS will vote in favor of bringing down the government it helped form in December 2020. It left the coalition in September amid disagreements with Prime Minister Florin Cîțu of the National Liberal Party (PNL).
“We cannot take risks with an unpredictable prime minister who doesn’t appreciate his partners,” Cioloș said, repeating his call for Cîțu to resign as the price for the return of USR-PLUS to the negotiating table to avoid a government collapse.
Cioloș, a former prime minister, has been leading the centrist Renew Europe group — the third largest force in the European Parliament — since its creation in 2019.
The race to replace Cioloș started on Saturday, with Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld announcing she would run. She’s a veteran liberal MEP and one of the Parliament’s most influential female lawmakers.
“Europe urgently needs a boost, and I believe strong leadership can make Renew the leading force for change,” she told POLITICO. ”I bring to the table a long experience in European politics, and many years of deep involvement with building, uniting and steering this political family.”
“It would be an incredible honor to have the chance to lead the most pro-European group in Parliament, a group brimming with energy and ideals, and to fully unlock its potential,” she added.