Justice Minister Tudorel Toader stated on Thursday evening at TVR1 national television station that “many inaccuracies and untruths” have been said during the debates in the European Parliament on the justice laws, some sort of “a tempest in a teapot.”
“A not at all pleasant finding of the fact that Europe has nothing against us, but, unfortunately, looks like we have something against us. (…) You have seen it yesterday, live or filmed, that there haven’t been that many [people] in the hall; the hall was very generous, beautiful, but they were scattered here and there, in that hall one could not see them and I didn’t count, because I didn’t have the possibility, but I believe that most of them belonged to us. Therefore, let us not understand that the Union necessarily has something against us, we have “quotes around,” a vocation from it, to invent things that need to be discussed, debated. (…) If you want a description, it was some sort of a tempest in a teapot, because only the MEPs remained, I don’t know who they belonged to, of the Opposition, to argue with the ones at rule and so on. If we get into the content, many inaccuracies, many untruths,” Toader stated.
The Justice Minister mentioned it’s out of the question for Romania to find itself in the situation of Poland, because in Romania the Constitutional Court decisions are observed.
When responding to a question, the Justice Minister stated that a reproach coming form First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans was out of the question during the talk that the two of them carried out in Strasbourg.
“Besides the meeting with Frans Timmermans, I had another eight meetings. In two days, I had nine meetings with decision-makers of the European Parliament, with parliamentary groups,” Toader mentioned.
The Minister explained that he didn’t set out these meetings, claiming that actually it was a political debate in the European Parliament.
“It’s wishful thinking to believe that the Justice Minister goes to the Commission or Parliament, knocks at the door: Hello! Hello! Mr First Vice-President I’ve came to talk for an hour. It’s out of the question. You see the public space is intoxicated and, unfortunately, manipulated. (…) Perhaps bad faith, maybe ignorance. (…) The excuse of the debate on the laws of justice has been used for a purely political debate. Why do I say this? It was made between politicians, in a large, beautiful and empty hall,” Toader says.
On the other hand, the Justice Minister claims that nobody mentioned what article is breached by amending the justice laws.
“Nobody, no article. What they should have mentioned to me? Let me tell you. The Green group chair or vice-chair, who initiated the debate, who stated from the start ‘I’m not a lawyer and I’m not good at it.’ If you’re not a lawyer and you’re not good at it what can I explain to you? You cannot explain anything, because the level is too low,” Toader added.
Speaker Dragnea: We have seen lots of lies
Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies and national leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Liviu Dragnea said on Friday that at the debate on Romania’s justice legislation that took place in Strasbourg days before “lots of lies” were said even by the Romanian MEPs, while other MEPs explained the truth about Romania.
He pointed out that Prime Minister Viorica Dancila did not receive an invitation to the debate, adding that it had been expected that Justice Minister Tudorel Toader would not have been allowed to address the plenary session of the European Parliament.
“It should have been expected that he would not be allowed to take the floor. I have heard all kinds of explanations that it was no procedural, that he could not speak. Had there been the German justice minister instead, would he have not been allowed to speak? Would they have kept him in the room without giving him the microphone when they were talking about Romanian justice? I saw lots of lies coming from Romanian MEPs, who got there by the vote of Romanians, who lied shamelessly. I also saw good patriot Romanian MEPs, with courage and with great rigour actually explaining the truth there is in Romania. I also saw MEPs from other countries supporting this point of view. I believe that what they thought and wanted to mount these liars in the European Parliament has turned against them,” Dragnea said at the Parliament House.
In his opinion, the issue was that the prime minister did not go to the debate. “Why was the minister of justice allowed to speak? They were talking about justice,” said Dragnea.
PSD distributes report on judicial laws within the EP
On Wednesday, before the European Parliament’s plenary session debate on the modifications brought to the Romanian judicial laws, titled “Threats to the rule of law by the Romanian justice system reform,” Social Democratic Party (PSD) representatives tried to explain to MEPs the situation concerning the modifications brought to the judicial laws, claiming – in a document distributed within the European Parliament – that no amendment institutes a degree of dependence on political decision-making factors on the part of the judicial system.
At the start of the debate, PSD MEP Dan Nica asked that Justice Minister Tudorel Toader – present at the plenary session – be allowed to speak, but his request was refused because the procedure stipulated that Romanian Premier Viorica Dancila should have taken part in the EP debate. The Romanian Premier was invited but did not show up.
Some fragments from the document handed out to MEPs:
“At the end of 2017, the Romanian Parliament adopted amendments to the three laws that regulate the Romanian judicial system: law no.303/2004 on the statute of judges and prosecutors, law no.304/2004 on the judicial system, and law no.317/2004 on the Supreme Magistracy Council. (…) The three laws had shown their shortcomings over the years. For instance, these laws allowed far too great interferences between the careers of judges and the careers of prosecutors, and this started to generate concern when it reflected in the way judges responded to the prosecutors’ requests. A recent study has shown that, from 2010 to 2015, Romanian courts accepted to an exaggerated degree the wiretapping requests made by prosecutors, six Courts of Appeals accepted one hundred percent of the requests.”
“The procedure to appoint the chief prosecutors, for which an endorsement from the Venice Commission would have been required, was not changed (as recommended by the European Commission in the latest Cooperation and Verification Mechanism report issued on 15 November 2015).”
“It must be noted that in many EU countries the chief prosecutors are appointed directly by the Government/President/Justice Minister/Parliament – namely by politicians, without the magistrates’ support (Denmark, Finland, Germany, France, Slovenia, Lithuania etc.).”
“There is no political interference in naming or dismissing the chief prosecutor of the new section for the investigation of magistrates.”
“Concrete measures are taken to guarantee the independence of judges, both from pressures on the part of the prosecutor’s offices (through a novel separation of professions within the judicial system) and from the influence of intelligence services.”
“The independence of prosecutors in investigating cases is explicitly guaranteed.”
“Significant measures were taken to avoid the interference of intelligence services within the judicial system.”
The conclusions of the document are:
- “No amendment restricts the judiciary’s independence in the face of political influences.”
- “No amendment establishes any degree of dependence on political decision-making factors that exceeds the one existing in most EU states. On the contrary, magistrates and prosecutors enjoy the highest degree of independence in Romania, Bulgaria and Italy.”
- “Significant measures have been taken to ensure the independence of the judiciary not just in relation to political factors, but also in relation to the intelligence services. Those who criticise the amendments to the judicial laws, including European officials, make no reference about the extremely grave deficiencies in the judicial laws, deficiencies that have now been corrected.”
Tudorel Toader : Discussions held in politicking manner. I’ll make an inventory of the untruths that were told
Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader on Wednesday evening stated in Strasbourg that he was not pleased with how the debate went in the plenum of the European Parliament regarding the modifications of justice laws in Romania, saying that “discussions were held in a politicking manner” and also that European Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourva’s statements “were probably not hers.”
“How can I be pleased when everybody could see with their own eyes (…) the fact that it was politicking that dominated the debate, with the legal content just a mere pretext. (…) Some of the MEPs spoke about the justice laws without knowing anything about the content of the respective laws,” said Toader, adding that he will make “an inventory of the untruths that were told” at the debate in the European Parliament.
He also stated that he was “firmly convinced nobody wanted to find out the truth,” while also accusing the fact that the leadership of the European Parliament denied him a speech.
“It was a state of confusion that was induced from the very start, for the pretext of the debate today was the bill amending the justice laws, but instead they talked about corruption. Or – and the speakers should have known this – the rule is that when you don’t know what you’re talking about, it is better you just shut up, for thus you cannot be wrong,” said the Minister of Justice.
“I am convinced that this was no more than politicking, with a legal pretext the core of which the speakers did not want to reach. For many speakers know nothing about and they don’t want to know about the justice laws in Romania, probably they aren’t even interested,” said him.
Toader also said that Vera Jourova, the European Commissioner for Justice, who spoke at the debate on behalf of the European Commission, “knows the justice system in Romania, but her statements were not in fact hers, for otherwise I believe it was impossible for her to make such statements.”
ALDE: We witnessed the PNL camp’s anti-Romanian propaganda in what concerns the judicial laws
Marian Cucsa, Vice President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), has stated that the political party he represents is trying to counter, through dialogue with European officials, the manipulations of the members of the National Liberal Party (PNL), whom he accuses of trying to manipulate, giving as an example the European Parliament’s debate on the judicial system on Wednesday.
“Yesterday, within the European Parliament, one was able to notice the way Romania’s representatives position themselves in relation to our country’s interests, to the interests of Romanians. We witnessed an antithesis between those who chose to engage in strong propaganda against Romania – the PNL camp –, and on the other hand those who proposed the variant of dialogue in order to explain the measures adopted – the ruling coalition.
“Rarely have I seen politicians having such an appetite for demonising their own country. The political battles are waged inside the country, we mustn’t externalise these conflicts in Brussels only to benefit from electoral capital,” reads the press release that House member and ALDE Vice President Marian Cucsa remitted to Mediafax.
The ALDE Vice President claims that the party is concerned about the perception formed at the level of the European Commission and European Parliament, “because it’s a perception that is not in line with reality. That is why only through direct dialogue will we be able to clarify things and to dispel these concerns. A clear distinction must be made between the manipulations coming from PNL-USR and the official data at the level of Romania.”
“What we are seeing on the part of some so-called representatives of Romania in Brussels is petty behaviour that reveals the petty character of those in the Opposition. (…) Basescu’s friends yesterday, the friends of Iohannis and PNL today, have started a new campaign to denigrate our country for petty political gains. (…) Through the voice of MEP Norica Nicolai, ALDE has constantly defended the interests of Romania, without accepting the harming of our country’s image. The PSD-ALDE ruling coalition had an open dialogue with European officials, in order to explain the way the new judicial laws are promoting the freedoms of citizens, the stopping of abuses and a real independence of the judiciary. What we sought from the start was to dispel the manipulations launched by Romania’s domestic enemies. This is how Romania’s interests are backed in the European Union, not through actions against one’s own state,” Marian Cucsa adds.
USR: Debate on judicial laws was a failure for the PSD-ALDE coalition, but a success for Romania
Save Romania Union (USR) claims that the European Parliament debate on the Romanian judicial laws was a failure for the PSD-ALDE ruling coalition but a success for Romania, pointing out that PSD and ALDE presented two deceitful reports on the legislative amendment process.
“The USR considers that the debate on the Romanian judicial laws was a failure for the PSD-ALDE coalition, but a success for Romania. PSD-ALDE MEPs tried to force the procedural limits and to bring Justice Minister Tudorel Toader to address the EP plenary, to defend the interests of Dragnea and Tariceanu. Moreover, PSD and ALDE presented two deceitful reports on the entire legislative amendment process, in which they claimed that all professionals in the field took part in the debate and all European standards were observed,” reads a press release.
USR’s jurists analysed the conclusions of the report that ALDE presented in the European Parliament.
“Considering there were no impact studies for the drafting of the bills, and the exposition of reasons is lacunose at best, one can easily conclude that “the needs and problems of the judiciary” that the ruling power’s MPs had in mind are those dictated by their inner forum, in the pursuit of their own political interest, and not at all those identified by the professionals in this field and the justiceables,” the document reads.
Likewise, USR states that the participation of the magistrates’ professional associations in the meetings held by the special committee were discretionarily censured because committee chairman Florin Iordache denied access to associations that are widely representative.
At the same time, it is pointed out that the committee meetings took place hastily and they completely ignored the propositions of the parliamentary Opposition, but also the positions adopted by the magistrates.
The Union claims that the notifications partially admitted by Constitution Court of Romania (CCR) judges show that the laws were not debated and drafted with professionalism and care.
“USR thanks its European Parliament colleagues for the care with which they are handling the crisis situation in which PSD-ALDE have thrown Romania, and assures them that it will continue to fight against corruption, with all means, as promised. We are not giving up on the European principles that define us,” reads the communique.