The European Commission expressed concern on Friday at what it said appeared to be moves by the Romanian government to curb the powers of independent bodies.

The Commission's comments came after Romania's government voted to limit the power of the constitutional court and as deputies prepare to vote later on Friday on a move to impeach the country's president.

“The Commission is concerned about current developments in Romania, especially regarding actions that appear to reduce the effective powers of independent institutions like the Constitutional Court,” said a statement.

“The rule of law, the democratic checks and balances and the independence of the judiciary are cornerstones of the European democracy and indispensable for mutual trust within the European Union,” it added.

“Government policy and political action must respect these principles and values.”

Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso had spoken on Friday with Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta to express their concerns, the statement said.

Ponta would be visiting Brussels next Thursday to discuss the situation, it added.

Earlier on Friday, Ponta issued a statement acknowledging international concerns at recent developments but insisting that the current political crisis would not threaten the rule of law in his country.

Romania's parliament is due to vote on Friday on a motion put forward by Ponta's ruling Liberal Social Union (USL) coalition to impeach his political rival, President Traian Basescu.

Earlier this week, the cabinet approved a decree barring the Constitutional Court from ruling on parliamentary decisions, which would make it easier for it to impeach Basescu should the motion go through.

Germany issued a statement on Friday in support of the Romanian constitutional court's independence and expressing concern at the political crisis. – Sapa-AFP