The First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans has called on Romanian authorities to observe the rule of law and to not give up the fight against corruption.
The Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila and the First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans met in Bucharest on Monday and are also to pay a visit to Brussels next week. The big number of such meetings is imposed by Romania’s holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. On Monday, for instance, Frans Timmermans approached a sensitive issue for the Romanian authorities, namely the state of democracy and the rule of law.
The changes brought to the justice laws, first by Parliament and then by means of an emergency decree, are questionable to say the least, and that has placed Romania’s partners in a state of alert. After the publication, last fall, of a report unfavorable to Romania, under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) on justice, Frans Timmermans now says that there’s been no progress, only a refusal by the Romanian Government to consider the Commission’s document.
The EC official hopes that experts on both sides will find quick solutions for the implementation of the recommendations made part of the CVM. “We want to make sure”, Timmermans said, “that we can make progress on the rule of law in Romania, we want to make sure that the fight against corruption isn’t abandoned, that we continue this fight, because it’s very, very important for the future of this country.”
Next week, Viorica Dancila and Frans Timmermans will have a new meeting, to discuss the topic. Actually, each contact that the First Vice-President of the EC and candidate to the office of EC president has with Romanians turns into a plea for the rule of law. On Monday, Frans Timmermans was awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa of the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA), and during his speech, he resumed his favorite topic. He admitted that he could not have imagined, three decades ago, that Romania would become a member of the EU in 2007. However, the privileges of integration come with responsibilities too, Timmermans pointed out, and one of them is to overcome the CVM phase.
“Our society and our institutions are based on democracy, the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights, none of which can be instrumentalised against each other”, Timmermans said. According to the EC official, it’s quite risky to believe that victory in elections gives a majority the right to increase control over the judiciary or the press. “(…) When the rule of law is threatened and press freedom is affected, almost automatically corruption increases”, Timmermans warned. That is why the European Commission has proposed that there should be a link between granting European funds and the member states respecting the rule of law, the First Vice-President of the European Commission explained.