The progress made by Romania is sufficient to fulfill the commitments under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism assumed upon joining the European Union, and all benchmarks can be satisfactorily closed, it is shown in the latest CVM report, presented on Tuesday by the European Commission, which states that from now on, it will no longer monitor Romania within the CVM, the evaluation being to continue annually through the general mechanism at the EU level regarding the rule of law.
The European Commission’s report on the reform of the judicial system and the fight against corruption appreciates the progress made by Romania regarding the recommendations and the fulfillment of the CVM conditionality since the previous report, from June 2021.
The report “positively notes Romania’s significant efforts to implement all these recommendations through new legislation, policies, and tools to strengthen the judiciary and combat corruption”, a release from the EU Executive reads.
Among the important reforms are the recently adopted justice laws and a new strategy for the development of the judicial system.
The European Commission also notes Romania’s commitment to take into account the opinion of the Venice Commission regarding the justice laws and to take additional measures if necessary.
“On the fight against corruption, state institutions are joining forces to implement a new national anti-corruption strategy, and a positive track record in the effectiveness of the investigation and sanctioning of high-level corruption has continued through 2021 and 2022,” the EC report adds.
“Parliament has improved the procedure around lifting political immunities and Romanian institutions responsible for applying rules on integrity and conflicts of interest, and for managing and recovering criminal assets, have been working effectively,” the EU Executive says in its report.
“Finally, Romania is making swift progress in revising its Criminal Codes, as well as consolidating its integrity framework,” the European Commission says, adding that “the completion of these important reforms are also milestones under Romania’s Recovery and Resilience Plan”.
“The Commission will continue to cooperate with Romania for their successful delivery, in line with EU law and international anti-corruption standards,” the report also says.
Still, Brussels says it is important that Romania “continues to work consistently on translating the remaining commitments specified in the report into concrete legislation and on continued implementation”, within the mechanism regarding the rule of law.
The effective implementation of Romania’s commitments and the continuation of the positive pace of reforms will guarantee that the progress made is sustainable and irreversible, allowing the successful closure of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.
“The annual rule of law report cycle will enable the Commission to monitor the implementation of many of the agreed reforms, such as the new regime following the dismantling of the Section for the Investigation of Offences in the Judiciary; the functioning of the Judicial Inspection; human resources in the judiciary; the implementation of court decisions by public administration; the impact of the upcoming revision of criminal legislation on the effectiveness of the fight against corruption, and the evolution of the integrity framework and its application, including by Parliament. This will be part of the monitoring of the justice system and anti-corruption, two of the core pillars of the reports. Some of these issues have already been subject to recommendations in the last Rule of Law Report and, as with all Member States, will be part of the monitoring process undertaken by the Commission following the recommendations,” the document reads.
Before reaching a final decision, the Commission will take into account the observations of the Council, as well as those of the European Parliament. The community executive will return to this issue both in the case of Bulgaria and Romania in the coming months.
According to the Community Executive, Romania’s objectives within the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism and additional assistance opportunities within other important EU programmes, such as the Instrument for Technical Support, will contribute to ongoing reforms, such as the Criminal Codes, will cover the existing gaps in the legislation and they will strengthen the effectiveness of the fight against corruption.
The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism was established in 2007, at the time of Romania’s accession to the EU, as a transitional measure designed to facilitate the country’s efforts to reform its judicial system and intensify the fight against corruption. It set reference objectives in four areas: the reform of the judicial system; integrity; combating high-level corruption; preventing and combating corruption in the public sector.
CVM represents a common commitment of Romania and the European Union. In accordance with the decision establishing the mechanism and as the Council and the Court of Justice of the EU pointed out, the CVM ends when all the benchmarks that apply to Romania are satisfactorily fulfilled.
The activity within the CVM has been taking place since 2007 to encourage and continue the reform process, based on conditionality. In January 2017, the Commission made a comprehensive assessment of the progress of the mechanism’s ten years of operation, which gave a clear picture of the significant progress made. The Commission established 12 specific recommendations that, when implemented in an irreversible manner, would be sufficient to end the CVM process.
Since then, the Commission has carried out four other evaluations of the progress on the implementation of the recommendations. The reports from 2017 to 2019 were characterized by a decrease in the impetus for reforms, with eight additional recommendations being required. In the June 2021 report, the Commission was able to note substantial progress on all CVM benchmarks.
President Iohannis: CVM has ended today for our country
President Klaus Iohannis declared on Tuesday that Romania has taken a new step on the path of European integration, showing that the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism has ended for our country.
“Today is a very important day for Romania, which took a new significant step on the path of European integration. The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism has ended today for our country! We have, therefore, clear confirmation that Romania has made the necessary reforms to consolidate the rule of law and entered the irreversible path of the fight against corruption. The European Commission confirmed a few minutes ago, in the report made public, the progress made by Romania under this mechanism, which means that we are fulfilling the recommendations and objectives set by the CVM, the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, as established at the time of our accession to the European Union. This is the last CVM report of the European Commission for our country. From now on, Romania will be, like all other member states, monitored only through the comprehensive European Rule of Law Mechanism,” said the president, in a statement made at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace”.
“Romania has demonstrated political will, but above all a strong support from the citizens to correct any deviation from a democratic path and to quickly resume reforms, as has happened in the last two years. I am glad that all these advances have been recorded in today’s CVM Report, because these reforms are essential, first of all, for Romanians. Citizens have the right to an independent, functional, efficient justice system, to a society in which the fight against corruption and integrity are fully assumed objectives,” stated Klaus Iohannis.
The president congratulated the Government, the Minister of Justice, the Parliament and the institutions of the judicial system for these results, expressing his appreciation for the diplomatic efforts, including those of the Permanent Representation of Romania to the European Union, that contributed to the achievement of this objective.
“I also thank the European Commission, President Ursula von der Leyen, for the constant support and for the open dialogue. The dialogue also involved the Venice Commission, which recently found that the essential elements of the Justice Laws package comply with European standards. Today’s report concludes a stage, but our joint efforts, at the level of authorities and society, must continue. I am convinced and confident that the achievements confirmed today by the European Commission will be followed by others, so that the independence and efficiency of justice, as well as the fight against corruption remain irreversible constants for Romania,” Iohannis also affirmed.
PM Ciuca: CVM report encourages Government to continue course established for supporting the judiciary’s independence
The European Commission’s report on Romania under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) released on Tuesday acknowledges for the first time the fulfillment of the recommendations and benchmarks, as set forth in the Decision to set up the CVM, adopted at the time of Romania’s EU accession, and encourages the government to continue the course established for supporting the independence of the judiciary and the fight against corruption in a sustainable manner and with good subsequent results, Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca said.
“For the government of Romania, this report and the developments it entails encourage us to continue the course defined for supporting the independence of the judiciary and the fight against corruption in a sustainable manner and with continued good results, for the benefit of the Romanian society. All this is essential because they answer the expectations of Romanian citizens. Based on today’s report, Romania’s monitoring will take place just like in the case of the other EU member states, through the European general Rule of Law Mechanism,” Ciuca wrote in a post on the government’s Facebook page.
He emphasized that the report is also a recognition and a confirmation at European level of the fact that the direction of reforms the Executive has consistently followed in the last period is “the right one”.
According to the Prime Minister, given that the Commission’s assessment is not based on recent developments alone, but “obviously (…) on a sustained build-up of progress Romania has made ever since the establishment of the CVM, we have an important recognition of the maturity attained in the functioning of the competent institutions.”
The head of the Executive added that the EC document also reflects the consolidation of Romania’s European status.
“We didn’t travel this path alone. We have constantly benefited from the very pragmatic cooperation with the European Commission’s experts. The competent Romanian authorities have maintained a cordial and constructive dialogue with them, which will be continued on the same basis of openness and trust within the relevant European horizontal instruments. 15 years after accession, the conclusions of the report reflect Romania’s efforts and the entry into a logic of consolidating our European status. We remain firmly anchored in Romania’s clear and long-term pro-European vision, a European vision based on unity, democracy, rule of law and values equally shared by all member states, based on the same instruments,” the Prime Minister wrote.
PSD’s Ciolacu: CVM to be lifted for Romania, extraordinary news
Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (PSD, co-ruling) Marcel Ciolacu said on Tuesday that the news from the European Commission regarding the lifting of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Romania is extraordinary and confirms that the current governing coalition is on the right track in terms of reforms and compliance with all European commitments.
“It is extraordinary news that comes today from the European Commission and confirms that the current governing coalition is on the right track in terms of reforms and compliance with all European commitments. The start of the procedures for the lifting of the CVM means that we are even closer to Schengen accession. This is the second and biggest goal for Romania,” wrote Ciolacu on Facebook.
He added that the formation of a large governing coalition in order to bring to an end the things that had been “dragging” for a very long time was the best decision for Romania and for Romanians.
JusMin Predoiu: EC report on CVM lifting is the result of a laborious and well-organized effort
The Minister of Justice, Catalin Predoiu, stated on Wednesday that the European Commission’s report on the establishment of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism is the result of a “laborious” and “well-organized” effort, adding that the CVM was an instrument that facilitated the modernization of the judicial system.
“CVM was an instrument that facilitated the modernization brought to the judicial system, after Romania’s accession to the European Union. Gradually, the initial objectives and those derived from them were fulfilled by the Executive, the Legislature and the judicial authority in our country. Today’s report is a natural consequence of this reality on the ground and it is salutary that at the level of the European Commission this reality was objectively and correctly ascertained. Today’s report is not the consequence of a context or the result of a contest of circumstances or of an ‘automatism’ at the community level, but it is the result of a laborious and well-organized effort, of a work carried out with patience and scrupulosity by all those involved in achieving the benchmarks of the CVM, during which the honest communication and cooperation with the European Commission was salutary,” Catalin Predoiu declared, quoted in a press release from the Ministry of Justice sent to AGERPRES.
He added that no European country can achieve its national and citizens’ interests alone, the most effective way to this end being proactive and honest cooperation with European partners.
“The Ministry of Justice does not regard this CVM report, published today, as a moment of conclusion of the reforms, but as an important stage in their continuation, with new laws, primarily the Criminal Codes, the Laws on the status of clerks and probation inspectors. Cooperation with the European Commission, the Venice Commission, GRECO and all European institutions will continue transparently, constructively and honestly, within the Rule of Law Mechanism, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and other relevant European instruments,” the press release highlights.
Senate’s Gorghiu: CVM will be history, but reforms to continue in Romania
The acting president of the Senate, Alina Gorghiu, declared on Tuesday that the expiry of the operation period of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism represents a very important moment in terms of the completion of Romania’s European integration, “an extraordinary performance” of our country.
“CVM will be history, but the reforms will continue in Romania. We thank the European Commission for the way it has supported Romania all these years, for the collaboration and for the trust shown now. Exceeding the operating period of CVM is a very important moment in what concerns the completion of Romania’s European integration. It is an extraordinary performance of our country, of all Romanians! It is no coincidence that we are taking such a big step during the mandate of a President of Romania from the National Liberal Party, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, and who is in partnership relationship with a PNL prime minister, Mr. Nicolae Ionel Ciuca. Liberals have always been, from 1990 until now, promoters of European and Euro-Atlantic integration and supporters of the most important reforms for Romania,” Gorghiu wrote on Facebook.
According to the PNL senator, “the Romanian judiciary has always had our support in terms of ensuring its independence”.
“I hope that all those who made mistakes in the past had the opportunity to learn from them. The laws of justice, mistreated in previous years, have been repaired and I am convinced that the judicial system will function properly. Our decision to make a political priority of the repair of justice laws proved to be correct. No postponement would have served Romania’s interests,” added Alina Gorghiu.
DNA: CVM report highlights the positive results in penalising high-level corruption
The National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) says that the European Commission’s Report on the progress made by Romania under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (MCV) highlights the positive results in terms of effectiveness of the investigation and penalisation of high-level corruption.
According to a press statement by DNA, the report recognises DNA’s active role in achieving one of the conditions laid down by the CVM under Benchmark 3 – Tackling high-level corruption.
“The report confirms the constant professional course and the special efforts made by DNA in the fight against high-level corruption. Despite some challenges related to the institutional and legislative framework, DNA has achieved concrete results: more defendants sent to trial, more persons holding high-level public office brought to justice, more convictions, fewer acquittals and more complaints registered – a sign of regaining public trust. Chief Prosecutor Crin Bologa, together with the management of the institution, expresses his appreciation for the efforts made by the anti-corruption prosecutors and the other DNA staff in obtaining conclusive and indisputable results in the fight against corruption,” says DNA.
The DNA assures the public that it remains a strong institution fully engaged in the fight against high and medium level corruption and that it will continue to work in a sustained and efficient manner, living up to the standards of professionalism and observing the procedural rights of the persons involved in criminal cases.
Compiled from Agerpres