Leader of the S&D group of the European Parliament (EP) Hannes Swoboda told Agerpres on Thursday in the context of the European Commission publishing the last report on the cooperation and verification mechanism (CVM) that Romania has made much effort and progress since it joined the EU in 2007, especially when it comes to the struggle against corruption, but there are still concerns, especially as regards the independence of justice. “I agree to some of these concerns and hope that the Government, Parliament and institutions of Romania will concentrate their efforts on ensuring the independence of justice especially, which must not be doubted by politicians,” added the leader of the S&D group of the EP.
He explained the cooperation and verification mechanism was not introduced to give a more favourable aspect to the developments in Romania or Bulgaria, but to expose those areas in which additional efforts are needed and to do it early enough to prevent long lasting negative effects. Hannes Swoboda also said that the ‘role of the CVM is to measure the institutional progress from the viewpoint of the EU standards’ and appreciated that the Romanian citizens would have the opportunity to demonstrate these aspirations during the future European election. “I hope that the European elections to be held in May will be an opportunity to show that the Romanians are devoted Europeans and will go to the polls in large numbers,” said Swoboda.
In Romania, reactions to the report were expressed on different voices by ruling power and opposition’s representatives. Senate President, Liberal Crin Antonescu said the European Commission’s concern about the Romanian governing officials’ and parliamentarians’ respect for the independence of the judiciary is the result of ‘unfortunate political actions. “(The concern – editor’s note) is the result of certain unfortunate political actions, such as those regarding the modification of the Criminal Code and on the other hand it is because of the unavoidable extension of the political game and propaganda that political forces are making here, in the country, and having been making it for years,” Antonescu said, as quoted by Agerpres. The Liberal leader added the current Romanian fundamental law, as set in the future constitution draft, “does not lack the enunciation of such principles and of the constitutional architecture that render the judicial system’s institutions independent.” Antonescu underscored that, in his opinion, the modifications made to the Criminal Code that were ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court judges should not give reasons for concern to the European Commission either, since ‘there are no effects’. The CVM report contains several specific recommendations for the future, with one of them relating the lawmakers’ code of conduct that should include a range of key provisions, so that they should respect the independence of the judiciary no matter what the modifications to the constitution of Romania.
This year’s report showed that the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) has maintained significant track records as far as the fight against high-level corruption is concerned, in difficult circumstances, DNA reports in a release, while the Supreme Court’s head, Livia Stanciu said the EC noted the institution’s efforts, assuring ICCJ will pursue the objectives’ fulfilment.
The President of the National Integrity Agency (ANI) Horia Georgescu said the CVM report remarks the Agency has continued to consolidate its track record, but at the same time brings into light the pressure and attacks on the Agency, which have often seemed to coincide with ANI cases against senior political figures.
PSD and PNL MEPs, Corina Cretu and Norica Nicolai, consider the CVM report is ‘balanced’, while PDL First Vice President Catalin Predoiu pointed out the report is appreciative of the magistrates, and the positive measures adopted by the incumbent Government are related to the decisions taken by the Cabinet headed by Emil Boc. Predoiu said the rest of the current cabinet decisions have had a negative impact on justice.