Romania lacks consensus over pursuing judicial reforms – EC report

By bne IntelliNews January 23, 2014

The reform approach has taken root in important sections of the Romanian society but there is no consensus about pursuing the objectives of the EU's cooperation and verification mechanism [CVM], the European Commission concluded in the report on the progress of judicial reforms and anticorruption, drafted under the post-accession CVM programme carried out in Romania.

Amid the mixed performance underlined by the report, a Commission spokesperson announced that a follow-up report would be drafted a year from now – against the typical semi-annual frequency of the reports so far. Meanwhile, a rather comprehensive set of recommendations is drafted.

Romania has made progress in many areas since the previous CVM report and the track record of the key judicial and integrity institutions has remained positive, the report acknowledges. The stabilisation of the political turmoil helped the legislative changes remaining on track.

However, concerns about the judicial independence remain and there are many examples of resistance to integrity and anti-corruption measures at political and administrative levels. And the report details on the controversial endorsement by the lawmakers in December of amendments to the criminal code.

The Commission recommends Romania a series of further steps to be taken towards completing the CVM goals. Among the recommendations:

  • Have the lawmakers respecting the independence of judiciary, under their conduit code
  • Include under the constitutional amendments a firm statement on the obligation of the executive and legislative branches to respect the independence of the judiciary
  • Step up the progress in judicial practice including measures to accelerate court proceedings and to make use of new opportunities like extended confiscation
  • Ensure that there are no exceptions to the applicability of the laws on incompatibilities, conflict of interest and unjustified wealth
  • Ensure that corruption laws apply equally to all on an equal basis
  • Develop the National Anti-Corruption Strategy to introduce more consistent benchmarks and obligations for public administration, with results to be made publicly available.

 

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