The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) of the Council of Europe decided to ask Romania to provide information on the changes to the Laws on Justice until January 15, 2018, to be analyzed at the GRECO meeting to be held in March. Urgent evaluations of the draft laws on the judiciary will be made, “the ad-hoc procedure in exceptional circumstances” being started.
GRECO decided to make urgent ad-hoc evaluations of the draft laws on the judiciary in Romania and on two draft laws on the reorganization of the Supreme Court and of the National Judicial Council in Poland.
In both cases, GRECO will make the evaluations in January and/or February, 2018, in order to adopt the ad-hoc evaluation reports in the March plenary session.
The press release issued by the Council of Europe mentions that it’s for the first time when GRECO uses article 34 of its Rules of Procedure, recently introduced in order to allow an “ad-hoc procedure in exceptional circumstances”. This rule can be applied when an institutional reformation, a legislative initiative or a procedural change can lead to the “serious breach” of an anticorruption standard that has been subject to a GRECO evaluation round, by a member of the Council of Europe.
The Group asked the heads of the Romanian and Polish delegations to provide information on these draft laws by January 15, 2018, in order to prepare the ad-hoc evaluation reports.
As for Romania, the press release points out that serious concerns have been expressed by several institutions and actors in Romania and from abroad, according to which the changes to the Laws on Justice, which have been urgently adopted, could endanger the efficiency of the fight against corruption and could undermine the independence of the judiciary.
PNL’s Orban, about the GRECO request: We cannot pretend we don’t see that there is a concern on the breach of the independence of Justice
PNL Chairman Ludovic Orban stated on Monday that the request of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) is only the last message of a number of messages sent to the governing majority in Bucharest, regarding the changes to the Laws on Justice.
“Following the position of the State Department, following the position of the European Union, today, at the level of the Council of Europe, GRECO will debate the situation in Romania and Poland related to justice. We cannot pretend we don’t see that at the level of the European Union, at the level of the USA strategic partnership, in the entire civilized world, there is an increasingly higher concern regarding the breach of the independence of Justice and the possible bracketing of the laws that allow an efficient fight against corruption” Ludovic Orban stated.
He called on PSD and ALDE to waive the debate of the changes to the Laws on Justice this week.
“I am asking again to the majority, as a sign of respect for the memory of His Majesty, to put an end to this unacceptable behavior, not to force the debate and the adoption of some legislative changes that cause a rupture in the Romanian society, against which there is a huge opposition in the society” Orban added.