The independence and the quality of the judiciary, the fight against corruption and freedom of the press are analyzed in the second anual report of the EC on the rule of law in the European Union
Commission released a report on the rule of law in the EU member states on
Tuesday. The independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press or the fight
against corruption are scrutinized in this annual report, which has reached its
second edition. The report contains specific remarks for most of the 27 members
of the European Union, but systemic issues concern mainly Hungary and Poland,
the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders has stated.
The two countries,
which are criticized with regard to the independence of the judiciary and freedom of
the press, are joined by Slovenia, which has also been singled out for the
deterioration of media freedom. In fact, the situation of the press is a major
concern, as many states of the Union report "an increase in violence towards
journalists", said the Vice President of the European Commission, Vera Jourova.
As regards Romania, the report refers, for the most part, to the reforms of the Judiciary.
It is noted that steps are being taken to review the changes - severely
criticized - brought to the legislation in the period 2017-2019 and concerns
are raised about the existence of the Special Section for the investigation of
crimes committed by magistrates. The initiative
to abolish this Section must follow the line of European law, the Commission
says. Recalling a decision by the Romanian Constitutional Court, which has
recently ruled that the national
fundamental law is hierarchically superior when judges must refer to European
law, the European Commission says that it's quite the opposite; this calls into
question the principle of the supremacy of EU legislation. According to Vera
Jourova, European legislation takes precedence over national ones and all the
rulings of the European Court of Justice are binding on the authorities and
courts in the member countries.
report also notes, among other things, that the shortage of staff remains
worrying in the Romanian judiciary. In December 2020, almost 10% of the posts of judge and almost 16% of prosecutor were vacant, which has an impact on the
efficiency of the system. Then, although the 2018 provision allowing for the
early retirement of magistrates with 20 years of seniority was repealed by Parliament
in March this year, nearly 300 magistrates retired in 2020 and almost 250 in
the first quarter of this year, amplifying even more the shortage of staff.
On the subject
of 'corruption', the Commission notes that the perception among experts and
business leaders is that the level of this scourge in the public sector remains
high, but - the EU executive says - investigations and sanctions for corruption
at medium and high level have remained effective. Finally, the European
Commission states that defamation lawsuits against investigative journalists
continue to be reported in Romania. (MI)