Hundreds protested outside the Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest on Thursday, coinciding with a ceremony marking Romania's ascendancy to the EU Council Presidency.

Under heavy snowfall, protesters waved EU and Romanian flags and chanted slogans against the ruling Social Democrats and Prime Minister Viorica Dancila.

"Romania wishes to remain part of the European Union, we respect the European values, and we need help fighting off these thieves. This is our message for today," said Angi Serban, one protester.

Romania has been mired in corruption scandals involving the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), as it prepares to takeover the bloc's rotating leadership role.

The second-poorest EU country will chair meetings at every level in the European Council from January 1 till June 30.

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