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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 18 July 2012

Romania: Urgent action needed to demonstrate commitment to rule of law and judicial independence

Romania needs to ensure respect for the rule of law and judicial independence to win back the trust of its partners in the EU, says the report adopted by the Commission today under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). The report covers a period of five years since Romania's accession to the EU in 2007 and presents the Commission's assessment of progress achieved in Romania during this period, focusing on judicial reform and the fight against corruption.

President Barroso said, "The necessary checks and balances in a democratic system must be guaranteed. While progress has been made on judicial reform and the fight against corruption in the last five years, this progress has been called into question by events in the last month. The Commission has raised serious concerns for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Romania. Prime Minister Ponta has responded to these concerns and agreed to quickly address them. The Commission will monitor the situation to make sure that these commitments are honoured. Urgent and rigorous implementation of the recommendations under the CVM will contribute to ensure a stable, credible and investment-friendly economic environment and to reassure financial markets".

The report summarises the Commission's questions in relation to recent challenges to the rule of law by the Romanian Government and Parliament. It includes a number of recommendations for action that Romania should take urgently. These should implement the commitments made by Prime Minister Ponta to President Barroso.

Taking a five-year perspective, the report shows progress. Many of the building blocks in the legislative framework are now in place. The focus is shifting to implementation. And the ownership of the reforms remains variable.

Romania has created the basis for a substantial modernisation of the Romanian judicial system. Institutions like the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) and the National Integrity Agency (ANI) have demonstrated a convincing track record in the pursuit of high-level corruption. Recently, court decisions in high-level corruption cases have effectively handled the most sensitive cases, and the judiciary has shown its ability to affirm its independence.

However, despite Romania's progress, the report concludes that the objectives of the CVM have not yet been met. Implementation of laws has just started in some areas, whilst in other areas ownership falls short and overall the process is not yet sustainable and irreversible. The current controversies pose a serious threat to the progress achieved so far and raise serious questions as to the future of the reforms already launched.

Shortcomings in judicial reform and the fight against corruption are matters of concern for a large majority of Romanians. A Flash Eurobarometer poll conducted by the Commission in May showed that 72% of Romanians wanted the Commission to continue supporting reform in Romania until it achieves standards comparable to other Member States.

In the light of recent challenges to the rule of law and to judicial independence, the Commission will adopt a further report under the CVM before the end of this year, to assess whether its concerns have been addressed and democratic checks and balances have been restored.

Background

On 1 January 2007, the Commission established a Cooperation and Verification Mechanism to assess the commitments made by Romania in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption. The Commission was asked to report on progress in these areas on a regular basis. The Commission issued its first report on 27 June 2007 and reported since then on a bi-annual basis. The Commission reports are complemented by a staff-working document which sets out the Commission's detailed analysis against each of the benchmarks set for the CVM.

The Commission's analysis is based on an assessment of progress by the Romanian authorities and on information by Member States, international organisations, independent experts and a variety of other sources. The Commission has carried out several missions to Romania, and the reports also take into account the responses by Romania to detailed questionnaires prepared by the Commission.

The last annual report was published on 20 July 2011. This has been supplemented by an interim report published on 8 February 2012.

A more detailed overview of the report on Romania can be found in MEMO/12/569.

A more detailed overview of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism can be found in

MEMO/07/260.

More detailed information on the Flash Eurobarometer poll on perceptions regarding shortcomings in the rule of law in Romania and regarding the expectations towards support by the Commission in this context can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/index_en.htm

Copies of the full reports can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/cvm/index_en.htm

Contacts :

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen (+32 2 295 30 70)

Mark Gray (+32 2 298 86 44)


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