PM Sorin Grindeanu conveyed on Wednesday a letter to the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, and to the First Vice President, Frans Timmermans, explaining the reasons from behind the GEO amending the Criminal Codes and the bill on pardon, assuring them that the Executive supports the fight against corruption.
“We have taken note of the joint statement made today on the fight against corruption in Romania. I wish to underline from the start that the fight against corruption is one of the priorities of the Government that I lead, and I totally agree your assessment regarding the Cooperation and Verification Commission report which is a matter of great interest both for the European Union and for us”, shows the letter.
PM claims that he will send the texts of the bills adopted by the Government to the European Commission.
“I wish to assure you on my availability to continue the dialogue with you, including in Brussels, and I am firmly reiterating the commitment of all the institutions and decision-makers from Romania on continuing the fight against corruption. In these approaches, we rely on the support of the European Commission, as well as on its balanced and fair assessment, which takes into account the national constitutional frame and the specific substance of the legislative provisions, not only the reactions from the public and media space”, PM also states.
The Head of the Government explains the reasons from behind the decision taken to the leaders of the European Commission. He claims that regarding pardon, there is already a procedure within ECHR referring to a pilot decision on the overcrowding in the Romanian prisons and the poor detention conditions, “which situation can lead to a significant penalty for Romania” of around EUR 80 million per year.
“I point out that both of the bills will enter in ordinary parliamentary debate procedure, thus ensuring the full completion of all steps provided by the Romanian Constitution”, PM says related to pardon.
As for adopting the GEO amending the Criminal Codes, Grindeanu invokes the constitutional provisions that force the lawmakers to amend the texts declared by CCR to be contrary to the Fundamental Law. He reminds the Court’s decision saying that abuse of office is constitutional only if the phrase “defectively performs” in the content of the Criminal Code means “performs by breaching the law”.
He explains the CCR’s reasoning to the European Commission’s leaders, including from the view of the ceiling of RON 200,000 in the case of the abuse of office, claiming that the Court has recommended such provisions to be introduced.
“(CCR – e.n.) has decided that the legislator hasn’t provided a value threshold of the damage or a specific intensity of the injury, which causes the Constitutional Court to conclude that, regardless of the damage’s value or of the injury’s intensity resulting from the deed, the latter can be an offense of abuse of office if the other constituents are also fulfilled. Establishing the RON 200,000 ceiling wasn’t arbitrary; we had the starting point in the provisions of Art.183 f the Criminal Code, which define the notion of extremely serious consequences of an offense, where we find the amount of RON 2 million”, PM explains.
Grindeanu also invokes decisions of the Venice Commission and the ECHR jurisprudence.
“By establishing a ceiling of RON 200,000, the liability isn’t removed, but it will continue to be an administrative and disciplinary liability, and the damage will be fully recovered, this being also in line with the recommendations of the European institutions”, he also says.
The PM states that the lack of coherence between a constitutional decision and the provisions that are declared unconstitutional could lead to a legal vacuum, as well as to a non-unitary interpretation of these provisions.
“The abuse of office hasn’t been removed from the law, but we considered to replace the phrase ‘defectively performs’ of the art.246 of the Criminal Code since 1969 and of the art.297 para. 1 of the new Criminal Code by the phrase ‘performs by breaching the law’, in line with the mandatory decisions of the Constitutional Court”, he states.
Grindeanu says that these are the main elements that caused the need of a GEO, which will be subject to the Parliament’s debate, approval, amending or rejection.
“We are interested in your opinion on the texts, and the Justice Minister will be available for you to provide you with all the needed clarifications, including by a possible travel to Brussels. As well, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who will be in Brussels on the occasion of the Foreign Affairs Council, will be honored to have a talk with you on this matter, if your schedule will allow it”, he concludes.