Romania made big steps towards proving the sustainability of its judiciary reforms, but 2016 would provide another crucial test in that regard, European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans said on January 27 2016, as the EC released its latest report on the country’s performance under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism.
The CVM was put in place in Bulgaria and in Romania when the two countries joined the European Union in January 2007, to bring them up to standard in the judiciary and in the fight against organised crime and corruption.
The January 2016 CVM report by the EC said that the “track record of the key judicial and integrity institutions to address high-level corruption has remained impressive. The judicial system as a whole has continued to show its professionalism, including a capacity to adapt to significant changes in the civil and criminal codes, efforts to unify jurisprudence and a willingness to defend the independence of the judiciary.”
But while Romania has made further progress towards the CVM benchmarks, the fact that “several recommendations of the 2015 CVM report remain valid shows that reform does not enjoy the full consensus necessary to assure sustainable progress.”
One particular institution singled out for criticism was the country’s parliament, which questioned the criminal codes reform and still lacked “objective criteria” when deciding on whether to allow the prosecution to treat parliamentarians like other citizens.
But public support for reform efforts was encouraging, Timmermans said. “Over the last year Romania and Romanians have shown their willingness to fight corruption and to protect the independence of the judiciary. The mass demonstrations against corruption have shown how these issues matter to Romanian citizens.”
“I am encouraged to see that Romania continues to make reforms and the positive trend continued in 2015. These efforts must be stepped up in 2016, in particular to prevent corruption and ensure that judges can continue to do their job properly,” he said.
A number of key appointments to senior positions in the judiciary were due to be made in 2016 and “the results will be a key test of the ability of the judicial system to maintain the reform process through a time of change”, the CVM report said.
Of equal importance, Romania is scheduled to hold local elections in June and parliamentary elections in November, which will provide a test for Romania’s integrity agency to ensure the implementation of the new electoral law, which expressly states that persons excluded from election through a judicial decision cannot stand in elections.
(Photo: JLogan )