Brussels, 22 July 2009
Report on Progress under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism in Romania
Why does the Commission report on progress in judicial reform and the fight against corruption in Romania?
Upon accession of Romania on 1 January 2007, certain weaknesses remained in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption that could prevent an effective application of EU-laws, policies and programmes and prevent Romanians from enjoying their full rights as EU citizens. Therefore, the Commission took the obligation within the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism 1 to assist Romania to remedy these shortcomings but also to regularly verify progress against four benchmarks set for judiciary reform and the fight against corruption. These benchmarks are interlinked. They need to be seen together as part of a broad reform of the judicial system and the fight against corruption for which a long term political commitment is needed.
How does the Commission report on progress in Romania?
The Commission's reports under CVM are published twice a year since June 2007. They are based on contributions from the Romanian authorities, the Commission's services, Member States' experts as well as technical experts and a variety of other sources.
The last full report published on 23 July 2008 concluded that although the fundamental elements of a functioning system were in place, the legal and institutional framework in Romania was still fragile and decisions on corruption were highly politicised. Although the Government had stepped up its efforts toward judiciary reform and the fight against corruption, the commitment to reform by Romania’s key institutions was considered uneven.
The Commission updated its assessment in an interim report published on 12 February 2009 . This update report concluded that the earlier pace of reforms had not been maintained by Romania. The report identified some positive signals as drafts of the Civil Code and the Criminal Code had been prepared and some authorities showed an increasing sense of ownership for judicial reform. At the same time, concrete results could not be demonstrated.
What does today's report say?
The Commission's report considers that Romania has regained its momentum of reform through a number of initiatives taken in response to the concerns expressed in the Commission's update report in February: Romania has adopted new Criminal and Civil Codes. The prosecution has maintained its positive track record concerning high-level corruption. Steps to improve the staffing situation of courts and prosecutors' offices and to improve the consistency of jurisprudence have been taken. The National Integrity Agency is operational and has delivered good results.
At the same time, these positive changes have not yet taken firmly root, remain fragmented and have not yet produced pra ctical results for Romanians. Moreover, the reform is not mirrored by an unequivocal commitment across political parties. The Parliament should show the full commitment to pursuing the fight against high level corruption.
What are the next steps?
I n order to be able to demonstrate sustained progress, the judicial reform process should not be politicised. A consensus by all actors should be created to allow the judicial system to work independently so that non-partisan investigations into corruption lead to swift and effective decisions. To assist Romania to focus its reform efforts, the Commission proposes a detailed list of recommendations.
Romania requires a long-term and unequivocal political commitment to ultimately succeed in its reform process. The Commission will therefore re-visit progress in Romania against the benchmarks of the CVM and the specific recommendations it has made in summer 2010. The Commission also invites the other Member States to continue assisting Romania in its reform process.
What are the four benchmarks set for Romania?
The following benchmarks have been set for Romania in the context of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism:
1. Ensure a more transparent, and efficient judicial process notably by enhancing the capacity and accountability of the Superior Council of Magistracy. Report and monitor the impact of the new civil and penal procedures codes.
2. Establish, as foreseen, an integrity agency with responsibilities for verifying assets, incompatibilities and potential conflicts of interest, and for issuing mandatory decisions on the basis of which dissuasive sanctions can be taken.
3. Building on progress already made, continue to conduct professional, non-partisan investigations into allegations of high level corruption.
4 Take further measures to prevent and fight against corruption, in particular within the local government.
Where can the report be found?
Commission Decision 2006/928/EC of 13 December 2006 establishing a mechanism for cooperation and verification of progress in Romania to address specific benchmarks in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption (OJ L 354, 14.12.2006, p. 56).