EC warns Romania against developments interfering with judicial independence and anti-corruption fight
JUDICIARY The European Commission confirmed on Monday that its first vice-president, Frans Timmermans, sent a new letter to the Romanian authorities on Friday, warning against the developments related to the rule of law in Romania. As the EC spokesman Margaritis Schinas put it, “The main concerns relate to developments interfering with judicial independence and the effective fight against corruption, including the protection of financial interests of the EU and particularly to the recently adopted amendments to the criminal code that create a de facto impunity for crimes.” He added that unless these concerns are addressed or if further negative measures are taken, such as the promulgation of the latest amendments to the criminal legislation, the Commission will immediately activate the rules for safeguarding the rule of law and will suspend the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. This is the instrument used by the Commission to monitor developments in the Romanian judiciary ever since the country joined the bloc in 2007. On April 24, the European Commission announced it would closely monitor the draft amendments to the Criminal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure, adopted by the Chamber of Deputies, and reiterated that Romania must immediately resume reforms in this field.
EASTERN PARTNERSHIP Brussels is hosting for 2 days several events marking the 10th anniversary of the Eastern partnership. Romania is represented by the head of state, Klaus Iohannis, and the foreign minister, Teodor Melescanu. Officials for the 28 EU member states and the 6 partner states, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, are assessing the progress made in an ambitious schedule for the coming year, aimed at ensuring concrete benefits for the citizens of the entire region, by means of efforts targeting stronger economies, governments and societies. The Eastern Partnership is an initiative that consists in the creation of a common area of democracy, prosperity, stability and close cooperation between the EU and the partner countries.
POLL The Army, the Church and the Romanian Academy are the institutions Romanian trust the most, according to the public opinion Barometre released on Monday by the Romanian Academy. The survey indicates that 68% of the respondents have “a lot of confidence” in the Army, around 57% in the Church and over 45% in the Romanian Academy. Next come, in descending order, the Police, the Presidency, the National Bank of Romania, the City Hall, the Mass Media, the Constitutional Court, the Government, Parliament and the political parties. As for the international institutions, Romanians have “a lot of confidence” in NATO – over 56%, EU – more than 55%, the UN – over 52%. The survey was conducted between April 12 and May 3.
CORRUPTION The Bucharest Court Monday sentenced a former mayor of Bucharest, Sorin Oprescu, to four and a half years in prison for bribe-taking, and dismissed the charges of money laundering. The ruling is not final and may be appealed against. In November 2015, the National Anti-Corruption Directorate indicted Sorin Oprescu for bribe-taking, money laundering, abuse of office and forming an organised crime group. Sorin Oprescu, a former member of the Social Democratic Party, was elected mayor of Bucharest in 2008, running as a non-affiliated candidate, and won a second term in office in 2012.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)