President Juncker replies to the letter sent by Prime Minister Viorica Dancila: EC didn’t request information on substance of Romania’s corruption cases

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The European Commission (EC) has never interfered in the management of some individual cases (of corruption) of Romania and the questions included in the letter of October 2012, addressed to the Romanian Ministry of Justice, were meant to help prepare the technical mission of November 2012 without the EU executive requesting information on the cases substance, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker stated in a reply to the letter sent by Prime Minister Viorica Dancila on 21 March.

The clarifications made by Jean-Claude Juncker were sent on Friday by the Government at AGERPRES request.

The high official said he read very carefully the letter of PM Dancila, sent on 21 March 2018, in which the latter requested clarification about a letter of October 2012 sent by the Commission to Romania’s Justice Minister at that time. The European Commission President wanted firstly to reiterate the importance he grants to cooperation and, especially to boosting implementation of the remaining recommendations of the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). He went on saying that he trusts this message was clear both during his meeting on 21 February and on the visit of First Vice President Timmermans on 1 March 2018. He added that the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism has, since the very beginning, implied close contacts and, more importantly, cooperation between the Commission and the Romanian authorities. In his reply dated April 4, 2018, Juncker mentioned that the letter which the PM referred to, dating back six years ago, was part of the exchanges between the Commission and the Justice Ministry according to the CVM and occurred during an intense monitoring stage following the specific commitments which the Romanian government took on in July 2012 (letter of 17 July 2012).

According to the EC President, the conditionality assessment (within the CVM) “Building on progress already made, continue to conduct professional, non-partisan investigations into allegations of high-level corruption” could only be achieved by receiving the type of information requested by the European Commission in the letter of October 2012.

Jean-Claude Juncker added that specifically, one of the reasons for concern at that time was the seriousness of dealing with high-level corruption cases, and more precisely, if such cases advanced to a final decision of the court. At that time, he said, procedural delays have been identified as a source of concern, especially with the risk of reaching prescription periods before those cases can be concluded and this is the reason for which the Commission requested information regarding the next procedural stage and steps, pieces of information that are normally available to the public.

 

Jean-Claude Juncker reasserted that the independence of Romania’s judiciary and the capacity to fight corruption in an efficient manner are essential benchmarks of a strong Romania inside the European Union. The EC President believes that Romania must focus on the issues in front of it and on ensuring the necessary progress in order to achieve our common objective, that of successfully completing the Mechanism by concluding the remaining recommendations.

On 21 March, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila sent a letter to President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, asking him to clarify “the de facto and de jure aspects” related to a letter of the EC from October 2012, sent to the Romanian Justice Ministry in which “concrete, direct” demands can be found regarding certain criminal cases and certain people under criminal investigation for corruption and abuse of office offenses.

“The rule of law and the defense of the rule of law are the fundamental pillars of strengthening any democratic society, such as my country’s. This is my conviction, that of Romania’s Government and of all those who share democratic values. For these reasons and given our common convictions, I address you, Mr. President, in relation to a topic which worries and concerns the public opinion of Romania. I am referring to a letter attributed to the European Commission, of 10 October 2012, sent to the then-Justice Minister, Mrs. Mona Pivniceru, which contains 21 requests addressed by the European institutions to the Romanian Government regarding the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism. Among these requirements, certain concrete, direct requests can be found concerning certain criminal cases of certain people under criminal investigation for corruption and abuse of office offenses, namely George Becali, Adrian Nastase, Serban Alexandru Bradisteanu, George Copos, Tudor Chiuariu, Ion Dumitru, Decebal Traian Remes, Catalin Voicu, Dan Voiculescu,” the PM wrote in the letter addressed to the EC head.