MEPs discussed on Wednesday the latest judicial reforms in Romania and their impact on the separation of powers.
The Romanian PM Viorica Dancila took part in debates in the European Parliament, at a difficult time for the relation between the government she heads and the European Union, triggered by the heavily criticized revision of the justice laws that sparked the protests of August 10 in the capital Bucharest.
On Monday, at the civil liberties committee in the European Parliament, European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans cited “growing concerns” about changes to Romania’s justice system and criminal code, that could threaten the independence of the judiciary and the fight against corruption and has warned Romania's government that it might end up in court if it does reverse judicial reforms.
A plenary debate on Romania's rule of law followed on Wednesday. Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said she did not come before Parliament to give account, but out of respect for the European institutions, and that she expected Romania to be given equal treatment within the EU. She also said that a viable justice system must be built first and foremost for the citizens, and not for magistrates, politicians or institutions. She also pointed out that the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), initially meant to fix corruption-related problems, proved inefficient, as the Commission reports did not mention any secret protocols between intelligence services and prosecutor’s offices.
Viorica Dancila: “This mechanism has missed the goal for which it was created and I officially request to be told who wrote the CVM report, who provided the data and who omitted out of negligence or bad will these facts that are unacceptable in the EU.”
The Romanian PM’s statements have triggered various reactions from the Romanian MEPs, who either criticised Timmermans’s opinion or the Romanian government. Justice must be done in the court room, not based on secret protocols, some of the MEPs have said, while other believes that Romania should not be represented by a bunch of corrupt politicians, whose main enemy is the very justice system. Romanian Parliament members also had divergent opinions. The leaders of the parties making up the ruling coalition, namely, the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats hailed Dancila’s discourse. The opposition parties on the other hand, believe that PM Dancila faked reality.
President of the Save Romania Union, Dan Barna: “Mrs Dancila went there to try to convince the whole Europe that white is in fact black. Seeing Mrs Dancila speak before the European Parliament was like watching the theatre of the absurd.”
A resolution regarding Romania will be put to a vote in plenary in November, and also in November the European Commission will make public a new CVM report. The Commission monitors Romania’s record on fighting corruption as part of a so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism that the country signed up to when it joined the EU in 2007.