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EU Commission says ready to take legal action against Romania over rule of law

EU Commission says ready to take legal action against Romania over rule of law Margaritis Schinas; Source: European Commission

BUCHAREST (Romania), May 13 (SeeNews) - The European Commission said on Monday that it is prepared to take legal action against Romania if the government does not reverse measures undermining judicial independence and does not get back on track with the fight against corruption.

"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," European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said during a press briefing in Brussels, as seen in a video file posted on the website of the Commission.

Schinas said the warning has also been sent in a letter signed by the European Commission first vice president Frans Timmermans to the Romanian government on Friday.

According to the letter published by the Romanian media on Monday, "If the necessary improvements are not made shortly, or if further negative steps are taken, such as promulgation of the latest amendments to the criminal codes, the Commission will trigger the Rule of Law Framework without delay".

The objective of the rule of law framework is to prevent emerging threats to the rule of law to escalate to the point where the Commission has to trigger the mechanisms of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, the EU's executive body explains on its website. If no solution is found within the rule of law framework, Article 7 is the last resort to resolve a crisis and to ensure the EU member state complies with the bloc's fundamental values.

At the end of April, Romanian lawmakers approved two draft bills changing the criminal codes in a way that has drawn fire from critics both at home and abroad for threatening the independence of the judiciary and weakening the fight against corruption.

Last week, president Klaus Iohannis challenged the bills before the Constitutional Court.