In Thursday’s session, the European Parliament discussed the situation of democracy and justice in Romania.
The political tensions in Bucharest were discussed in the European Parliament on Thursday. In the presence of the First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, the debate was mostly an exchange of retorts between Romanian MEPs from various parties, with rather low participation from their colleagues from other EU countries. MEP Cristian Busoi, of the European People’s Party group, defended the Romanian citizens’ right to demand that the rule of law be respected, after the Government passed an emergency ordinance amending the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Cristian Busoi: “Most Romanians, President Klaus Iohannis, civil society organisations, judicial institutions are currently fighting by all legal and constitutional means to halt this governmental abuse. The leaders of the ruling party believe that winning the election gives politicians not the responsibility to govern in compliance with the law, but rather the privilege of placing themselves above the law, questioning the rule of law altogether.”
Many argue that the emergency ordinance is intended to decriminalise, at least in part, certain offences committed by members of the parties in power. This is why Monica Macovei, a former justice minister and currently a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament, argued: “The only thing that the European Parliament can do, and the European Commission should do as well, is to request that, until February 9 when the Criminal Code amendments take effect, this Cabinet should issue another emergency ordinance to repeal the original amendments.”
On the other hand, Victor Bostinaru, a member of the ruling Social Democratic Party and currently an MEP in the Socialists and Democrats group, pointed out: “This profoundly loyal country, Romania, deserves to return to democracy, Constitution and the separation of powers. At this dramatic time for my country, my nation would not accept street protests to bring down a government. The consequences would be immeasurable.”
As for the independent MEP Norica Nicolai, she backed the Government’s decisions: “What we witness in Bucharest today is an attempt to topple the lawfully elected power under a pretext related to the administration of the judiciary, because this ordinance has been passed in accordance with provisions in the Constitution of Romania, which stipulates that when the Constitutional Court rules that certain laws are unconstitutional, they must be brought in line with the Constitution within 45 days.”
As the First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, pointed out, “Romania is in the final stretch of this long, long marathon leading to a situation when we could all say ‘the development is now irreversible.’ We’re almost there,” he said, and warned Romania not to backtrack on fighting corruption.(Translated by Ana-Maria Popescu, edited by D. Vijeu)