The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament (LIBE) met in a special session to discuss the rule of law in Romania
The perseverance with which the Social Democratic
Party-ALDE ruling coalition has fostered what its supporters call the reform of
the judiciary has stirred suspicion and triggered large-scale street protests.
For the opposition, civil society and part of the media, by amending the
criminal codes and the justice laws, the Power wants to check the anti-corruption fight and subordinate the magistrates. On the other hand, the
left wing supporters say that the amendments only put the laws in line with rulings
of the Constitutional Court and ECHR sentences. The endless polemic in
Bucharest was extended to Strasbourg, where on Monday night the Committee on
Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament (LIBE) met
in a special session to discuss the situation in Romania.
The session was prior
to Wednesday's debates of the European Parliament on the crackdown on the anti-government protests in Bucharest on August 10 and on the rule of law in Romania in
general. According to Radio Romania's correspondent, the First Vice-President
of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans is afraid that the legal
amendments might impair the Romanian justice system, including its capacity of
fighting corruption as well as other crimes. He said that EU officials would
carefully analyze the amendments and their compliance with the European laws.
If the conclusion reached is that rules are violated, the European Commission
will not hesitate to make the necessary steps, even to bring the Romanian Government
to court. Frans Timmermans said:
has worsened against the latest reports. The Commission will very carefully analyze
the adopted laws and their conformity to the European laws. In the coming
Cooperation and Verification Mechanism next month we will assess the report. A
step back would be a great disappointment for all of Romania's friends and
especially for its citizens. Progress has been made, but it is not
irreversible. On the contrary, the latest developments question that progress
and risk undermining our common goal of seeing the situation in Romania
constantly on the right track, which should entail the lifting of the
Cooperation and Verification Mechanism."
The ruling coalition strongman, the president of the
Social-Democratic Party, Liviu Dragnea, said that the LIBE meeting "was not a
debate, but a list of previously established standpoints, an incrimination made
before all evidence was analyzed." ALDE leader Calin Popescu-Tariceanu just
said that despite the criticism brought in the European Parliament, Romania
must show opening to dialogue with its Western partners. It is a fact that the
situation stirs concern not only in Europe but also overseas. On Monday, US
ambassador to Bucharest, Hans Klemm said that the contentious judicial overhaul
risked turning the clock to the early 2000s when the Romanian judiciary was
plagued by corruption and political influence.
(Translated by A.M. Palcu)