Why does the Commission report on progress in judicial reform and the fight against corruption in Romania?
At 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 to assist Romania to remedy these shortcomings and to regularly verify progress against four benchmarks set for this purpose, through the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). 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 January 2013 and January 2014 charted the legislative, institutional and policy developments relevant to judicial reform and the fight against corruption. These reports, their methodology and conclusions, were also endorsed in conclusions by the Council of Ministers.
How does the Commission prepare the annual CVM Reports and measure progress?
The Commission organises expert missions to Romania three times per year, one of which includes practitioners (judges, prosecutors) from other Member States, to complement the Commission’s own observations. The missions include meetings with key interlocutors in Bucharest, as well as other cities to assess how local and regional authorities are performing.
During these missions the Commission consults with a wide range of stakeholders on the ground. The Commission also has an expert in its Representation in Bucharest responsible for constantly monitoring progress and liaising with stakeholders.
What does today's report say?
Today's report concludes that Romania has made continued progress in many areas since the previous CVM reports, showing signs of sustainability. In particular, the action taken by the key judicial and integrity institutions to address high-level corruption has maintained an impressive momentum, and has carried through into increased confidence amongst Romanians about the judiciary in general, and the anti-corruption prosecution in particular. This trend has been supported by an increased professionalism in the judicial system as a whole, including a willingness to defend the independence of the judiciary in a more consistent way and a more proactive approach towards consistency of jurisprudence. There is now an opportunity to test out this progress at moments of particular sensitivity, notably as concerns senior appointments.
At the same time, there remains a strong sense that progress needs to be consolidated and to be further secured. Whilst the implementation of the Codes has shown the government and judiciary working together in a productive and pragmatic way, one year on, many legislative issues remain outstanding. There continues to be a surprising degree of inconsistency in some court decisions, which will always give rise to concern. Decisions in Parliament on whether to allow the prosecution to treat parliamentarians like other citizens still seem to lack objective criteria and a reliable timetable. Parliament has also provided examples of reluctance to apply final court or Constitutional Court decisions, also a more widespread problem. And whilst the recognition that general corruption needs to be tackled is certainly building inside government, the scale of the problem will need a more systematic approach.
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 consolidate reform in Romania. The consensus for reform, and the confidence that progress is taking root, are on an upward trend, which now needs to be maintained. The Commission looks forward to continuing to work closely with Romania to secure the CVM's objectives. The next report will come in around one year's time in order to allow the time required for Romania to follow up on the Commission's recommendations and 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.
Do citizens in Romania support the CVM?
We published on Monday 26 January 2015, ahead of the CVM Reports, the results of a Flash Eurobarometer survey. This survey, conducted in November 2014, shows that 73% of Romanians think the EU has had a positive impact on judicial shortcomings in the country, and 67% think it has had a positive impact on corruption.
More information is available here - http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/flash_arch_420_405_en.htm#406
Does the Commission provide financial support to help with the reforms?
Romania has benefitted from significant sums of EU money to support measures in the justice and home affairs sector in both the pre- and post- accession period. Numerous projects and investments have been financed.
During the Commission's 2007-2013 programming period, Romania benefited from structural funds which were used to deliver upon CVM recommendations. This includes supporting the functioning of key institutions and a series of projects that are now in their completion phase (PREVENT system from ANI, N-lex).
In the new programming period, judicial reform and fight against corruption have been even more emphasised. For 2014-2020, the European Structural and Investment Funds will finance measures related to:
- Strengthening the organisational and administrative capacity of the judicial system (Courts, prosecutor’s offices and main central bodies of the judiciary: Ministry of Justice, High Court of Cassation and Justice, Public Ministry, National Anticorruption Directorate and Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism) and developing the human resources;
- improving access and quality of justice while ensuring transparency and integrity within the judiciary (based mainly on the implementation of the National Anti- Corruption Strategy and the complementary measures in this area);
- Improved land registration services - integration of existing data and scaling up systematic registration in rural areas.
Does the Commission consult the Government on the Report before publication?
The CVM is a completely independent process: the reports are the exclusive responsibility of the Commission. But of course we regularly receive evidence and input from the Romanian Government as reforms and legal processes advance, and seek to be as up to date as possible. We also receive input from many other observers and actors in both countries.
When will the CVM Process come to an end?
The end of the CVM will come when the benchmarks are satisfactorily fulfilled. President Juncker has expressed his hope that Romania will continue its reform path and be in a position to exit the programme during the mandate of this Commission.
Where can the report be found?
The report is available on the following website: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/cvm/index_en.htm
 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).