Brussels Slates Romania’s Commitment to Reform

The European Commission is to issue a critical report on Romania’s failure to reform the courts, tackle corruption and respect the democratic process.The EU has serious doubts about Romania’s commitments to reforming the judiciary and respecting the principles of democracy, according to a preliminary copy of a report to be published on Wednesday by the European Commission.

The damning report said that recent steps by Victor Ponta’s government to impeach President Traian Basescu “raise serious concern with regard to observing the key principles of democracy.“Political challenges to court rulings, the undermining of the Constitutional Court, the reversal of established procedures and the suppression of key elements of democratic control put in question the government’s… respect for the supremacy of the law and independent judicial supervision,” it added.

The report’s critical tone suggests that the European Commission will want to continue its current monitoring of judicial reforms in Romania and Bulgaria, a process set up to combat fraud in the EU newcomers.

Analysts say it is now more than likely that the Commision will prolong its monitoring of Romania’s justice system.

“There are no reasons at this stage to abandon the monitoring mechanism, as Bucharest has failed to comply with most of EU requirements aimed at combating corruption and imposing the rule of law.

“Furthermore, the recent decision of the [Ponta-led] ruling coalition in its dispute with the President raises also many questions, ” political analyst Marian Trifu said.

Parliament voted on July 6 to suspend Traian Basescu as President for 30 days and established July 29 as the day of a referendum in the next stage of a campaign to impeach him.

The planned removal of the President has drawn criticism from European capitals and local human rights groups, partly because the government has used a series of controversial emergency decrees, curbing the powers of the Constitutional Court to intervene, and also changing the referendum law.

Prime Minister Ponta, leader of the centre-left ruling coalition, has accused Basescu of blocking government reforms, of abusing his position to grant favours to his allies and of interfering in the judicial system.

Romania, which joined the European Union in 2007, has been under constantly evaluation by the European Commission, which aims to ensure the justice system is up to implementing EU laws.

But Romania is still considered one of the most corrupt states in the European Union and has made only limited progress in fighting corruption and organised crime since 2007. Bucharest has drawn repeated criticism from the European Commission for its failure to tackle corruption more effectively.

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