The interim head of Romania’s anti-corruption agency said Tuesday (8 January) she was stepping down, citing a “hostile environment”, just as the country takes on the EU’s presidency.
Anca Jurma had become the head of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) after her predecessor Laura Codruța Kövesi — considered a symbol of the country’s fight against graft — was controversially removed at the government’s behest in July.
“All this time I did my best to ensure the DNA functioned well, despite the hostile environment in which the institution had to work,” Juma said in a statement announcing she would not seek a fresh term.
— EurActiv România (@EurActivRomania) January 8, 2019
She said that recent events, including unfavourable media coverage, “made me appreciate that I no longer have the necessary conditions to continue the job according to my vision”.
Romania took over the EU’s rotating six-month presidency on 1 January amid ongoing rows with Brussels over judicial reforms. The European Commission wants to see them scrapped, claiming they will harm the fight against corruption in what is one of the EU’s most graft-prone states.
Also on Tuesday, Kövesi announced that she will contest the manner of her dismissal at the European Court of Human Rights because she wasn’t able to appeal the court ruling in Romania that forced her ousting.
When Kövesi was at the helm, the DNA led a crackdown on corruption among local and national elected officials, earning the enmity of many in Romania’s political class and prompting critics – including the ruling Social Democrats (PSD) – to accuse it of abusing its power.
President Klaus Iohannis, who hails from the centre-right and has frequently clashed with the government, had long resisted attempts to remove Kövesi but was eventually forced to comply by a ruling from the Constitutional Court.
After winning elections in late 2016, the PSD attempted to water down anti-corruption legislation, but abandoned the plans in face of the country’s biggest wave of protests since the collapse of communism in 1989.