Romania investigates Timmermans and Jourova, Commission says they have immunity

File photo. Frans Timmermans and Věra Jourová on 25 April 2018. [Europe by Satellite]

Amends story to make clear Romania is investigating, not indicting, Timmermans and Jourová

The relations between Bucharest and Brussels hit an all-time low on Thursday (21 February) as the Romanian press reported that the Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans and Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová are under investigation for “falsification” of the last Cooperation and Verification report (CVM).

Last November, the Romanian governing coalition, led by the Social Democrats, announced plans to take the European Commission to court over the CVM report, which assesses Romania’s progress in the rule of law and fight against crime and corruption.

Romania goes on anti-Brussels path over rule of law

Romania’s government is not willing to follow the EU recommendations on the rule of law and plans to challenge the Commission’s latest report in court. EURACTIV Romania reports.

The CVM report, presented on 13 November by Timmermans, was very critical of the latest developments in Romania’s legislation regarding the judiciary and the Criminal Codes.

Commission lauds Bulgaria, castigates Romania on judicial reform

The European Commission published on Tuesday (13 November) reports on Bulgaria and Romania under the so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), commending Bulgaria for progress made and lambasting Romania for backtracking. Both countries, however, were warned to uphold media freedom.

According to the Romanian daily Adevarul, a specialised body investigating crime in the country’s judiciary system is investigating Timmermans and Jourová for “falsifications” of the CVM.

Prosecutor Adina Florea has signed the request for investigation, according to the reports. Florea has been nominated three times as the candidate to replace Laura Codruța Kövesi at the helm of the Romanian anti-graft agency DNA by the justice minister Tudorel Toader, but President Klaus Iohannis blocked her appointment each time.

Kövesi is in pole position to become the first-ever European Chief Prosecutor, but the Romanian authorities are against her.

Romania socialists to attend PES congress as pressure mounts over Kovesi case

Romanian Socialist PSD president Liviu Dragnea will attend the Congress of the European Socialist Party (PES) on 22 and 23 February in Madrid, sources said, although he previously said he could not “be in a picture” with someone who hates Romania.

The Luju.ro [Lumea Justitiei] website has published a big dossier of documents, in an effort to substantiate the claim that CVM has been falsified and that Kövesi has been biased in her work as the DNA chief.

It also pointed out that according to Romanian law, the Romanian penal code applies to offences committed outside the country by a foreign citizen or a person without citizenship against the Romanian state or against a Romanian citizen or a Romanian legal person.

This seems to give enough legal grounds for holding Timmermans and Jourová responsible under the Romanian legislation.

Timmermans was not immediately available to comment.

Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said the EU executive has become aware of the criminal investigation thanks to the press. He added, reading from a paper, that the Commission likes to remind the Romanian authorities that “all Commission officials, while doing their jobs, are subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and that the national authorities have no jurisdiction in these matters”.

He added:

“All EU officials are also solely covered by the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities that is attached to the EU treaties, signed by all member states, including Romania”.

Finally, he said: “Yesterday we had the opportunity to express our great concern about the rule of law in general in Romania”.

‘Organised crime group’

It is true that EU officials enjoy immunity for their professional authorities, but the Romanian authorities have indicted Timmermans and Jourová on criminal grounds.

According to Luju.ro, they constitute, together with two other officials, “an organised crime group”. The two other officials are the head of the Commission representation in Romania, Augustina Cristea, and Romania’s chief prosecutor Augustin Lazar, a strong critic of the left-wing ruling party’s judicial reforms.

Romanian government asks president to sack public prosecutor

The Romanian Justice Minister on Wednesday (24 October) formally asked the president to sack public prosecutor Augustin Lazar, a strong critic of the left-wing ruling party’s judicial reforms, just months after the country’s top anti-graft prosecutor was also dismissed.

Asked by EURACTIV about the impact of this development on the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, Schinas said he didn’t want to “dramatise”.

He said that, on the contrary, he wanted to salute “the great work done by the Romanian authorities, and in particular by the Representation of Romania to the EU”, in striking trilogue agreements, which in his words showed that Romania had the capacity “to lead the legislative process of the EU”.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

On Friday (22 February) the Luju.ro website was offline. However, EURACTIV has made a copy of the text quoted. It can be downloaded by clicking here.

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