José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following the adoption of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism Reports for Romania and Bulgaria
18 July 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over the last three weeks, exceptional events in Romania have been a major source of concern for the Commission and for the European Union. We have discussed these developments this morning in the context of the adoption of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism Reports and there was unanimous support to the reports as presented.
In every member state of the European Union we need a well-functioning, independent judicial system, and respect for democratic institutions and the rule of law. The European Union is based on the principle of respect of the rule of law and democratic values.
Events in Romania have shaken our trust. Challenging judicial decisions, undermining the constitutional court, overturning established procedures and removing key checks and balances have called into question the Government's commitment to respect the rule of law.
Party political strife cannot justify overriding core democratic principles. Politicians must not try to intimidate judges ahead of decisions or attack judges when they take decisions they do not like. The competences of a Constitutional Court cannot be changed overnight.
This is why it was so important to meet the Prime Minister of Romania at short notice. We needed immediate answers.
There is a principle in the treaty (Article 4) of "sincere cooperation" between member states and the EU institutions. Prime Minister Ponta responded to my request and has acted immediately. We had a good meeting last Thursday and we have spoken over the last couple of days to reach agreement, for that I want to pay tribute to the Romanian Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Ponta has confirmed in writing his agreement to implement all of the measures addressing our concerns, including revoking the key emergency ordinances to restore the competences of the Constitutional Court and implement its rulings over the forthcoming referendum. These developments are fully reflected in the Cooperation and Verification reports we adopted this morning.
I have underlined to Prime Minister Ponta that the urgent and rigorous implementation of recommendations under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism is very much in the interests of Romanians - over 90% of Romanians see shortcomings in the judicial system and corruption as major problems. The report adopted today recognises progress made during the last years – and indeed there was relevant progress – but contains recommendations in order to complete the implementation of the benchmarks. Following these recommendations will not only mean a more solid judicial system. It will also help to ensure a stable, credible and investment-friendly economic environment and to reassure financial markets.
Romania has stepped back from the edge, but we cannot yet say that we have reached the end of the process. These commitments now need to be effectively observed and implemented.
This is in the best interests of Romania and Romanian citizens. We are convinced that the Romanian citizens are fully committed to the principle of the rule of law and democracy.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and I have asked for a further report to be prepared on Romania by the end of the year. In this report, we will look at whether our concerns regarding the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary have been addressed.
To conclude, a brief word on Bulgaria: taking a five-year perspective, relevant progress has been achieved with the adoption of the basic legislative framework and the creation of important new institutions.
The report recommends that the focus should now shift to filling the remaining gaps in this legal and institutional framework, implementing the legislation and carrying through action so that wrongdoing is seen to be uncovered and addressed. We need to see convincing results against high-level corruption and organised crime. The Commission will present its next report at the end of 2013 and will continue to monitor the situation closely.