Brussels, 20 July 2011
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 Mechanism1 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 the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) are published twice a year. The Commission delivers an annual assessment of progress in summer and an interim report in winter. The present report is the fifth annual assessment report. The report is based on contributions from the Romanian Government, the Commission services, Member States and NGOs, it is complemented by a staff-working document which sets out the Commission's detailed analysis against each of the four benchmarks set for the CVM.
The Commission's last annual assessment report published on 20 July 2010 pointed to important progress in Romania in adopting the Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes, but also to significant shortcomings in Romania's efforts to achieve progress within the CVM. Overall the report noted that Romania had not demonstrated sufficient political commitment to reform. In addition, the leadership of the judiciary appeared on some occasions unwilling to cooperate and take responsibility for the benefit of the reform process. The report recommended Romania to urgently correct these weaknesses in order to regain momentum in the reform process. The interim report adopted on 20 February 2011 took note of Romania's constructive response to the Commission's recommendations of July 2010.
What does today's report say?
The current report takes note of the significant steps Romania took since the last annual report of July 2010. Romania improved judicial efficiency, re-established the legal basis of the National Integrity Agency, continued preparations for the implementation of the four new codes, launched preparations for a functional review of the judicial system and carried out an impact analysis of its anti-corruption policy. At the same time, the report also notes that consistency and results in a number of areas remain a challenge and that progress in the fight against corruption still needs to be pursued.
The report concludes that Romania needs to take urgent action to accelerate high-level corruption trials and to prevent their prescription due to expiry of statute-barred periods. The fight against corruption should remain a top priority, with support from Parliament, and urgent measures should be taken to improve the recovery of proceeds of crime, the pursuit of money laundering and the protection against conflict of interest in the management of public funds. Better results should be demonstrated in the confiscation of unjustified assets and in delivering dissuasive sanctions for incompatibilities.
What are the next steps?
Continuous commitment over the next period will be necessary to implement the new codes, to take the necessary decisions to restructure the judicial system, to consolidate anti-corruption policy and to deliver better results in the confiscation of unjustified assets and in delivering dissuasive sanctions for incompatibilities.
With the next annual assessment report under the CVM in summer 2012, the Commission proposes to carry-out an overall assessment of Romania's progress under the CVM since accession. In the light of this assessment, the Commission will make appropriate proposals. The present report includes a number of specific recommendations to help Romania to prepare for this overall assessment.
The Commission will continue to support Romania in this endeavour and provide its next annual assessment of progress in summer 2012.
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:
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.
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.
Building on progress already made, continue to conduct professional, non-partisan investigations into allegations of high level corruption.
Take further measures to prevent and fight against corruption, in particular within the local government.
Where can the report be found?
The report is available on the following website:
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).