The new European Commission report on Romania’s law enforcement reforms has been well-received in Bucharest, as it confirms the progress made in the government’s fight against corruption. EurActiv Romania reports.
On 28 January, the Commission released its annual report under the so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) on Romania and Bulgaria (see background).
The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), the Public Ministry, the High Court of Cassation and Justice (HCCJ), the Superior Council of the Magistracy (SCM), the Ministry of Justice and the National Integrity Agency (ANI) were cited for their resoluteness in continuing reforms and improving the efficiency of law enforcement.
The report also mentions the efforts of the media “in raising awareness about corruption, as well as identifying specific cases”. The European Commission highlighted “the Public Procurement Files” project, coordinated by Freedom House Romania in partnership with multiple EU partners, including EurActiv Romania (the European Actors Association), and other websites such as anticoruptie.hotnews.ro and www.romaniacurata.ro.
>> Read the EurActiv Special Report Public Procurement Corruption in Romania
The Commission report notes negative developments as well, specifically in reference to the Romanian Parliament and the national ombudsman. The former has received criticism for ignoring the requests of DNA to remove the parliamentary immunity of several MPs, while the latter has been criticized for choosing to not challenge the usage of controversial “Government Emergency Ordinances” aimed at circumventing legal procedures.
Commenting on the results of the report, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, noted that Romania is on the right track, but that corruption remains the biggest and most urgent challenge.
At the political level, the report has been positively received, and commended for its objectivity. In a public statement, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis characterized its findings as being predominantly positive and has noted the importance of “confirming and strengthening them in the long run” the major objectives of the fight against corruption.
He also stated that “it is the duty of institutions and politicians to take account of these findings in order to remove the question marks that are still pressing in Parliament and on the political class”.
Romania’s General Prosecutor, Tiberiu Ni?u, characterized the report as being objective and rigorous with regard to its evaluation of the Public Ministry.
DNA, SCM and HCCJ have all released similar public statements highlighting the recognition of their efforts within the report.
DNA’s press release noted that the report of the European Commission reconfirms the quality of the Directorate’s activities and observes the investigative diversity and increased capacity of the institution.
SCM released a public statement signaling the key points of the report regarding the contributions of the institution to strengthening the judiciary.
HCCJ noted that the report objectively recognizes its institutional efforts and results in unifying Romanian jurisprudence related to the new criminal codes. In addition, the Court highlighted the report`s acknowledgement of its achievements in offering online access to its case law.
When Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU on 1 January 2007, shortcomings remained regarding judicial reform and the fight against corruption. In the case of Bulgaria, problems also remained regarding the fight against organised crime.
A Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) was set up to assist both countries with judiciary matters after their EU accession. Seven years after their accession, the CVM is still ongoing and will continue under the next EU Commission.
So far, the Commission reported under CVM every six months on progress with judicial reform, the fight against corruption and, concerning Bulgaria, the fight against organised crime. Written reports are published annually.