Brussels, 22 January 2014
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 undertook within the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism1 (CVM) to assist Romania to remedy these shortcomings and to regularly verify progress against four benchmarks set for this purpose. These benchmarks are interlinked and should 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 have been published on a regular basis since 2007. The reports are based on contributions from the Romanian Government, as well as from the Commission services, Member States, NGOs and other stakeholders. The most recent reports in July 2012 and January 2013 charted the legislative, institutional and policy developments relevant to judicial reform and the fight against corruption as well as specific issues regarding the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary after the events which took place in Romania in July 2012. These reports, their methodology and conclusions, were also endorsed in conclusions by the Council of Ministers.
What does today's report say?
Today's report concludes that Romania has made progress in many areas since the previous CVM reports. The track record of the key judicial and integrity institutions has remained positive, even in the face of sometimes difficult circumstances. Necessary and long awaited legislative changes have remained on track, and a spirit of cooperation between judicial institutions and the Ministry of Justice is helping managerial issues to be tackled. In this sense the situation has benefited from the calmer political atmosphere since spring 2013.
However, concerns about judicial independence remain and there are many examples of resistance to integrity and anti-corruption measures. The rushed and untransparent amendment of the Criminal Code in December 2013 sparked widespread concern as a challenge to the regime for tackling corruption and promoting integrity. The important measure of key appointments shows a mixed picture, with some procedures running in an open, transparent and merit-based way whilst others are open to criticism on the grounds of political interference. Overall, the picture has consequences for the extent to which the reform process in Romania can be seen as sustainable and the positive developments deemed irreversible.
The report contains a number of specific recommendations in the areas of judicial independence; judicial reform; integrity; and the fight against corruption.
What are the next steps?
The Commission believes that the monitoring process of the CVM, the opportunities provided by EU funds and the constructive engagement of the Commission and many Member States continues to be a valuable support to reform in Romania. The Commission invites Romania to pursue and consolidate progress on its recommendations on judicial independence, the reform of the judiciary, integrity and the fight against corruption. The next report will come in around one year's time in order to allow the time required to assess tangible results. Between now and then, the Commission will monitor progress closely and on a continuous basis with regular missions, as well as frequent dialogue with the Romanian authorities and with other Member States.
Where can the report be found?
The report is available on the following website:
1: 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).