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EC says Romania backtracks on fight against corruption, sets additional recommendations under CVM

EC says Romania backtracks on fight against corruption, sets additional recommendations under CVM

BUCHAREST (Romania), November 13 (SeeNews) – Romania has not made progress in complying with the recommendations under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) and even reversed some of its past progress, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

"I regret that Romania has not only stalled its reform process, but also re-opened and backtracked on issues where progress was made over the past 10 years," the Commission first vice-president, Frans Timmermans, said in a statement on Romania's progress under the CVM.

"It is essential that Romania gets back on track immediately in the fight against corruption and also ensures an independent judiciary. This is the only way how Romania can resume its path towards the conclusion of the CVM process, in the interest of its citizens, its country, and the EU as a whole."

However, the Commission reiterated its desire to end CVM for Romania and Bulgaria until the end of its present mandate.

The five-year mandate of the Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker will expire in March 2019.

Over the twelve months since the report in November 2017, Romania has taken some steps to implement the recommendations set out in the January 2017 report, the Commision said.

However, the assessment of the January 2017 report was always conditioned on the avoidance of negative steps calling into question the progress made in the past 10 years, it added.

"The entry into force of the amended justice laws, the pressure on judicial independence in general and on the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) in particular, and other steps undermining the fight against corruption have reversed or called into question the irreversibility of progress," the European Commission stressed.

Therefore, the 12 recommendations set out in the January 2017 report are no longer sufficient to meet the orientation given by president Jean-Claude Juncker when he started his term of office to close the CVM under this Commission's mandate, the EC said .

The report adopted by the Commission on Tuesday sets out eight additional recommendations to remedy the current situation referring to justice laws, appointments and dismissals within judiciary and criminal codes

"This will require the key institutions of Romania to demonstrate a strong commitment to judicial independence and the fight against corruption as indispensable cornerstones, and to restore the capacity of national checks and balances to act when there is a risk of a backwards step," the Commission concluded.

Also on Tuesday, the European Parliament said it is 'deeply concerned' about the reform of the Romanian judicial and criminal laws, which risks undermining separation of powers and the fight against corruption.

Romania's capacity to fight corruption is at risk after revamp of judicial and criminal laws, the European Parliament said in a resolution wrapping up the plenary debate held on October 3 with Romanian prime minister Viorica Dancila.