POLITICS

Latest report drawn by the European Commission on Romania’s progress with judicial reforms under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism stirs wave of reactions in Bucharest. While PSD is considering challenging CVM report with CJEU, USR and MRI require early elections after the CVM report

PSD considering challenging CVM report with CJEU (sources)

 

The Social Democratic Partyy (PSD) is contemplating challenging with the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), through the government agent, the latest report drawn by the European Commission on Romania’s progress with judicial reforms under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM).

According to sources with PSD quoted by Agerpres, a final decision is yet to be taken, but this option is being under consideration for the time being.

On Tuesday, the European Commission recommended Romania, under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism, to immediately suspend the implementation of the justice laws and subsequent emergency ordinances and revise them considering in full both the recommendations of the Venice Commissions and the ones of the Group of States Against Corruption of the Council of Europe (GRECO).

“Developments in the past 12 months in Romania are throwing a shadow or pushing back some of the progresses made in the past ten years, for which reason the European Commission came with eight new recommendations under the CVM report for Romania,” the First Vice-President of the community Executive, Frans Timmermans, stated in Strasbourg.

 

JusMin Tudorel Toader: CVM report has political touch and double standards

 

JusMin Toader: CVM Report uses double standard and has political undertone

The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) Report released by the European Commission has a political undertone and uses double standards, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader stated on Wednesday.

He reaffirmed that Romania is and remains attached to the European values, that Romania respects the European standards but at the same time must have the dignity to legislate in agreement with the fundamental Law in agreement with the national specificities and with the Romanians’ interest.

“This time, I tend to believe the report has a political undertone, it has many interests, the report uses double standards and relates to movable, moving targets. I bring to mind one thing: there were four recommendations, subsequently four turned into 12 recommendations, now eight have been added. We will now have 20 recommendations. Why are they mobile, why the double standard? Because, for example, in 2012 there was a legislative measure to amend the laws of Justice regarding the competencies related to the disciplinary action. It was good, the measure was appreciated, it related to judges, to prosecutors, the Minister of Justice had a broader competence than to notify and it was good. Today, after six years, the Minister has only the competence to initiate the action of notifying the Judicial Inspection, he/she does not take measures, he/she only relates to prosecutors and that’s not good anymore. The same cannot be good in 2012 and not good in 2018. I’ll give you another example: not long ago a high-level prosecutor was appointed with a negative opinion from the Prosecutors’ Section. And it was good. No one rebelled, no one worried, Justice was not broken, the prosecutors’ independence was respected. Today, we are asked no more no less than the opinion of the Prosecutors’ Section with the CSM [Superior Council of Magistrates, ed.n.] become a mandatory one, that is to say, not to get past a negative opinion, which again, in a short space of time, we can see different approaches,” Tudorel Toader detailed.

“Let no one say that a recommendation, no matter whose it is, goes over a decision of the Constitutional Court. (…) What is mandatory is the fact that the European standards are binding. The irreversible lawmaking process is mandatory. (…) You do not have to be a big lawyer, nor do you have to be a legal expert to understand that a commission of three or five experts is coming from Brussels to evaluate and make that report and make some recommendations. Do not imagine that three or five specialists come to Romania, make some recommendations and their recommendation becomes stronger than the national law, their recommendation becomes like a norm in an international treaty / convention. You do not have to be a jurist to know that those experts, as experts as they are, do not become legislators when they come to Romania to evaluate us, to make recommendations. Their recommendations are the basis of the final report,” Toader explained.

 

Tariceanu: CVM report is not a legal act, so it cannot be challenged in court

 

The European Commission’s report on Romania’s progress with judiciary reforms and the fight against corruption under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism, or CVM report, is not a legal act, so it cannot be challenged in court, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, chairman of the Senate, said on Wednesday, adding that he had not discussed such option with national leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), major at rule, Liviu Dragnea, about such a possibility.

“The CVM report is not a legal act, it has some recommendations. So, to be clear, it cannot be challenged in court. I will certainly tell them so, but I think whoever spoke may not have been careful enough (…) The report could be subject to an analysis and then contested. But such a decision has not been taken (…) Not to be confused. We have not discussed such option yet (…) I met last night Mr Dragnea, but we did not discuss this matter,” Tariceanu said at the Senate, asked to comment on PSD contemplating challenging the CVM report with the European Court of Justice.

In his opinion, the recommendations made by the European Commission need to be analysed.

“And I think there should be a more in-depth discussion with the commission, with the CVM officials. I have seen a series of inaccuracies, and I think that given the different approach between us and the commission officials – when I say us I mean Parliament – and I am wondering: How is the sovereignty of Parliament respected when some commission officials who have no legitimacy come in? Can they, through their demands impinge on the willing of Parliament and sovereignty? Secondly, it is likely that in this dispute it would be useful, as discussed earlier, to set up a committee of Romanian and foreign law experts to analyse all this, because from what we have seen so far the commission’s approach is a very subjective one. It does not take into account the many elements that I presented and I explained why, for example, the removal and appointment of high-ranking prosecutors – is one of the examples I have referenced , and I think that must be made clear,” said Tariceanu.

He added that, after all, the European Commission “has to prove willingness to listen to arguments.” “Because if they want to take over only the arguments that have been aired by the Opposition or the media in a tendentious form, then surely the report will be one that is completely unbalanced and does not reflect reality. The ultimate goal is to make an analysis of legislative amendments – and I mean a strict regulation of relations between intelligence services and other bodies,” added Tariceanu.

 

“European Commission enters into a non-justified political area”

 

Previousli, on  Tuesday, Tariceanu said  that the report on Romania’s progress with judiciary reform under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism, the CVM report, released by the European Commission will have to be analysed from two perspectives – one unnatural, political and a technical one.

“I have not seen it [the CVM report] or, rather, I have a series of preliminary information, we are waiting for its approval. From the preliminary information the report is, and I think it will have to be analysed from two perspectives – one unnatural, political, because the CVM report was designed to be a technical, legal mechanism. But, after receiving the official report I will be able to go through it and make comments. (…) The [European] Commission is entering a political area that is unjustified, because the report is a technical tool and I have recently seen a series of policy approaches that I think are calling into question the way the commission is working with the member states. So, I believe the commission cannot call into question the choices of the member states in certain areas that do not fall into what would be called the logic of subsidiarity,” Tariceanu said at Parliament Palace.

Asked if the recommendations in the CVM report are met, Tariceanu said that he is entirely ready to work with the European Commission.

“First of all, we need to read them to see what they are talking about, and I am entirely willing to work with the commission. I do not know whether things will get a major improvement with the current commission, given the recent approach, but hopefully in the future there will be, at least as far as we, the coalition, the government and the parliamentary majority, are concerned, willingness to work with the Commission to solve these issues, take my word for it, ” said Tariceanu.

He also said the report had consequences on Romania’s image and will very likely be used by the Opposition as a cudgel.

About Frans Timmermans’ statements that justice reforms have been suspended in Romania, Tariceanu mentioned that these are political statements and “very directly related to the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament.”

 

DNA says it treats with attention recommendations made by European Commission

 

The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) is treating with attention the recommendations made by the European Commission in the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) report and expresses its hope that Romania’s key-institutions will take action “in view of demonstrating a firm commitment towards the independence of the judicial system and the fight against corruption,” a release of the institution sent on Wednesday to AGERPRES informs.

“The DNA leadership took note of the content of the CVM report published by the European Commission on 13 November 2018. It is noted that the fulfillment of the CVM objective no.3, called Fighting high-level corruption, is related to the sustainability of the National Anticorruption Directorate and the irreversibility of the fight against corruption. In relation to this aspect, the DNA underscores that it will remain committed in fighting high-level corruption, doing its legal duties, with professionalism and impartiality. Taking into account that the observations which the DNA has constantly made in the context of the legislative amendments regarding the judicial system and the codes are similar to the view expressed in the CVM report, the institution carefully is treating with attention the recommendations made by the European Commission and voices hope that Romania’s key-institutions will act as to “demonstrate the firm commitment towards the independence of the judicial system and the fight against corruption and act in view of restoring the national capabilities of safeguard, control and balance,” the DNA release informs.

 

MAE: Romania maintains conviction it meets requirements for CVM lifting

 

Romania maintains its conviction that it meets the requirements for lifting the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), “in the context in which, as full EU member state for more than ten years, it has continuously proved a constructive approach in respect to meeting the justice-related objectives,” reads a Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) response sent at AGERPRES’ request.

MAE underscores that “Romania is a state with a mature democracy and has the necessary democratic and constitutional mechanisms to make its own decisions, in full agreement with the European values.”

“Starting from it democratic maturity and the determination to contribute to the development of the EU, Romania’s objectives and actions as President of the Council of the European Union will be fully in line with the European values and will prove the constant support for the Union project, including on a high level, in the agenda of the Summit in Sibiu,” MAE showed.

Referring to the EP resolution concerning the rule of law in Romania, MAE points out that the laws brought to mind “have been adopted after significant public consultations and have made the object of an extended debate inside the Romanian society.”

“More than that, the right of the parliamentary opposition to challenge them with the Constitutional Court has been fully observed. At the same time, the goal the legislature had in view was one in accordance with the common values of the EU member states – the observance of the fundamental rights of all citizens, the improvement of the justice system and act of justice and the elimination of abuses,” the ministry points out.

Consequently, the result Romania has proposed “has always been one of improving the justice system.” “All judicial systems are improvable, and the concern to improve them, in accordance with the gathered experience and issues specific to each state, represents a natural democratic practice,” MAE adds.

Furthermore, MAE mentions that during the entire legislating process, Romania “has proved openness to real and concrete dialogue with the institutions of the European Union and its foreign partners, a necessary and natural position in the context of its affiliation to a community of states with common democratic values.”

“We shall continue this policy to ensure a better understanding of the processes conducted in Romania,” MAE adds.

At the same time, MAE also approaches the events of 10 August, which “are the object of an ongoing investigation, carried out by the Romanian judicial institutions in charge.”

“We find as inopportune any previous opinion on this topic. We underscore that Romania is constantly concerned with ensuring the observance of all fundamental rights, and, at the same time, with ensuring public order to the collective benefit of the Romanian citizens,” MAE says.

Moreover, the ministry voices its availability to cooperate with the European institutions in justice matters.

 

Basescu: EP resolution, CVM report sanction Romania because of politicians’ inability to understand EU rules

 

Former President Traian Basescu says that Romania takes the brunt of the slamming European Parliament resolution on its rule of law and of the freshly released CVM report because of certain politicians who fail to understand the EU rules.

“Let’s not delude ourselves! The resolution of the European Parliament of November 13, 2018 is not against Dragnea, Dancila or Tariceanu, it is not against the PSD – ALDE alliance, it is simply a resolution against Romania. The peevish rhetoric of the unequaled Dancila before the European Parliament, or of Messrs. Tariceanu and Dragnea in Bucharest, proclaiming Romania’s right to sovereignty, is to no avail. The reality is that when we joined the European Union, through the Accession Treaty we have partially given up our sovereignty and pledged to observe all the rules of the club,” Basescu wrote on Facebook.

In his opinion, when Romania’s political leaders break the rules through their actions, the Union reacts and sanctions our country.

“The EP resolution, but the CVM report as well, sanction Romania because of certain politicians who even now, 11 years since accession, fail to understand the rules in the European Union. Directly or indirectly, each and every Romanian will pay the cost of these political sanctions applied to Romania, the effect of which is the reduction of foreign direct investment, rising interest rates on loans, being kept out of the Schengen, the withdrawal of investors from the Romanian market, and above all, the dwindling confidence in Romania as a country,” Basescu wrote.

He points out that the journalists and analysts who claim that it wasn’t Romania, but political heavyweights Dragnea, Dancila and Tariceanu or the PSD – ALDE – UDMR alliance that were rebuked “are merely making a useless attempt to sweeten, or – some others – drain of significance the most difficult and embarrassing political moment for Romania since accession to this day.”

“We must all know that the European Union shows no leniency when its principles, laws and treaties are violated. And if you don’t believe me, just take a look at Poland, things should not be allowed to get muddled because they only grow worse. Fast solutions are needed that do not exclude compromise, but what must be definitely excluded as a solution is inaction,” Basescu wrote.

 

Ex- PM Ciolos: Europe tells us we strayed away from it, from its values, principles

 

Former Prime minister, former European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Ciolos, founding president of the Romania Together Movement emphasises that the assault on justice must be stopped and the guilty for the “10 August retaliation” must be found considering that for the first time since Romania joined the European Union, “Europe has told us we have strayed away from it, from its values, from its principles”.

“It is for the first time after [Romania’s] accession that Europe has told us that we have strayed away from it, from its values, from its principles. That the ones we have elected want to oust us from our own house. Yesterday, the entire European Parliament spoke to us in one single voice: Romania, wake up! In order for us to stay within the borders of civilisation the criminals’ assault on justice must be stopped! We must make light and find the guilty for the 10 August retaliation. Yesterday, Europe told us that it is with us and against them. That there is still hope if we wake up in time, that Europe is our house, too if we don’t set it on fire,” on Wednesday wrote Dacian Ciolos on his Facebook page.

He added that within six months the Romanians could elect the people to represent them in Europe, “to fight for the Romanians’ rights and not endanger their future.”

“Some of us have understood too late that our vote is our power. Six months from now we’ll have a new chance. Romania will elect the people to represent it in Europe, people who fight for the Romanians’ rights and not endanger their future. Romania’s place is in Europe because it has never been elsewhere. Whoever wishes to oust us from the Western civilisation we have always longed for will pay dearly. I’m going to do everything in my power so that we never live such black days when the lie has become state politics,” Ciolos wrote.

 

PM Dancila: I am disappointed and outraged about the conclusions of the CVM report. It isn’t fair, Romania’s arguments are being ignored

 

Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said she was “outraged and disappointed” about the conclusions of the CVM (Co-operation and Verification Mechanism) report of the European Commission on Romania, considering, among other things, that the arguments of the Romanian Government were totally ignored by those who drafted the document.

“I am disappointed and outraged. Disappointed because it’s not fair, as long as Romania’s arguments are being ignored and the CVM objectives are always changing, especially so that we will never be able to meet them. I was there, in the European Parliament, I spoke about Romania, I brought to the attention of the European Parliament and Mr First Vice-President Frans Timmermans certain things he cannot say now that he wasn’t aware of, and I am referring to the protocols. I am outraged, for Romania is asked to do things that are not acceptable in another European country,” stated Viorica Dancila on Tuesday evening in a phone intervention on Antena 3 private television broadcaster, when she was asked about the most recent CVM report on Romania.

The PM added that, in her capacity, she cannot, under any circumstance, accept “that imperative recommendation by which an official document of the European Commission tells us to suspend the laws that were voted in the Romanian Parliament and validated by the Constitutional Court.”

“Such request I believe it’s an interference in the constitutional order of a Member State and, at the same time, a violation of the European treaty. Moreover, it’s totally unacceptable that they ask us to immediately suspend the procedures of removal or appointment of some chief-prosecutors, for this would be a brutal intervention in matters that are related to Romania’s sovereignty. As long as we observe the laws of our country, and as long as we observe the Romanian Constitution, built in agreement with the EU principles, nobody has the right to get involved in our internal procedures regarding the appointments in the justice field. Also, it’s not fair that we are told to resume the procedure on removing or appointing some prosecutors, when in Germany, for instance, the prosecutor general was removed in one single day for having accused the Justice Minister that he did not observe justice independence. There is no resolution concerning Germany in the European Parliament and no CVM reports, which makes us wonder: why such difference?,” said Dancila.

The PM also referred to the 18 questions that she received from EC First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, regarding the justice laws and criminal codes.

“I answered them in good faith, while being certain he wanted a clarification after the toxic propaganda some did in Brussels. I offered him legal arguments. I haven’t seen any of these arguments appearing in the CVM report and so I wonder: what was the purpose of the 18 questions received from Mr First Vice-President Timmermans? Why ask someone if you weren’t the least bit interested in what that person had to say? I only ask respect for Romania, equal treatment for Romania in Europe, equal rights and treatment for the Romanian citizens. I believe that we cannot accept Romanians to be scolded for something that everybody does in Europe or to be asked things that nobody does in Europe and I believe that this is how Romania should be treated; I will say this again, that I am disappointed and I don’t think it’s fair they ignore the official position of the Romanian Government,” said Dancila.

 

USR and MRI require early elections after the CVM report

 

Save Romania Union and Romania Together Movement (MRI), founded by the former PM Dacian Ciolos, made a joint call on Wednesday, in order to trigger early elections as a result of the criticism in the CVM report.

“A joint call of USR and RO+: The alarm bell from Brussels must wake up all the responsible politicians, in order to trigger the resignation of the Dancila Government and early elections. Save Romania Union and Romania Together Movement (RO+) are calling the responsible politicians to understand the seriousness of the warning coming from Brussels and take action in the interest of Romania and Romanians, urgently  sending the Dancila Government to the recycle bin of the history. We are also calling to action, in the last moment, in order to trigger early elections. This is the democratic way by which citizens are given the opportunity to choose the future of the country by themselves: Dragnea’s criminal clique or the European Romania!”, mention the representatives of the two parties in a press release published on USR’s website.

“A last alarm bell was sent yesterday, by the European authorities, loud and clear, regarding the abuses and slippages from the rule of law of the current PSD-ALDE Coalition. USR and RO+ express their concern related to the reactions of the PSD-ALDE leaders, towards the publication of the CVM report, since they don’t want to admit that they undermine the rule of law in Romania, removing our country from the European values, not even the European partners have put the mirror in front of them. This dangerous coalition amended the Laws on Justice and the Criminal Codes without requesting the opinion of the Venice Commission, they lied shamelessly the European embassies and officials, they gassed their own citizens violating the rights and freedoms protected by EU, they adopted laws intimidating the civil society and tried to restrict the freedom of press. We cannot continue like this, we want a Romania to go forward in the European Union. We want a Romania that counts in Europe and work at home to consolidate democracy, to strengthen the rule of law and the prosperity of its own citizens”, was the message sent by the USR and MRI representatives.

The two parties say they are ready for discussions between all the parliamentary parties.

“Save Romania Union and Romania Together Movement are asking the parliamentarians of the PSD-ALDE coalition who are not blackmailed by Liviu Dragnea’s criminal clique to understand the seriousness of the moment and take action in the interest of those who voted them. USR and RO+ are ready to find the necessary framework to discuss with the representatives of all the parliamentary parties and facilitate the dialogue with all the democratic forces in the civil society in order to make Romania get rid of a criminal group that endangers our European future”, reads the quoted source.

USR Chairman Dan Barna stated that Liviu Dragnea and Calin Popescu Tariceanu “are seeing in EU the main obstacle to totally seize Romania”, while the founding Chairman of MRI, Dacian Ciolos, said that “it’s an emergency” to make PSD and ALDE leave the power.

 

 

 

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