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Nov 15, 2017 13:01 EEST
BUCHAREST (Romania), November 15 (SeeNews) – Romania has made progress in complying with EU recommendations under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) and must move forth with necessary reforms to be able to end monitoring by 2019, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
"We have seen progress in some areas but there is still more work to be done. Romania has met some of our recommendations, but there is not enough progress yet on others," the Commission first vice-president, Frans Timmermans, said in a press release reporting on Romania's progress under the CVM. "I count on the Romanian Government to pursue the necessary reforms, and to avoid backtracking, so that we can work together towards the goal of ending the CVM under this Commission's mandate."
The five-year mandate of the Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker will expire in 2019.
Even though progress has been made, the Commission expressed concern that the overall reform momentum in the course of 2017 has stalled, slowing down the fulfilment of the remaining recommendations, and with a risk of re-opening issues which the January 2017 report had considered as closed. Challenges to judicial independence are a serious source of concern, it added.
As a positive example, the Commission noted that the recommendation to set up a system for checks on conflicts of interest in public procurement has been satisfactorily implemented.
However, the Commission stressed that it cannot yet conclude that any of the CVM benchmarks are at this stage satisfactorily fulfilled, though progress has brought some benchmarks closer to this point.
"The Commission remains of the opinion that with loyal cooperation between State institutions, a political steer holding firm to past achievements and with respect for judicial independence, Romania will be able to fulfil the outstanding recommendations, and therefore satisfactorily meet the CVM benchmarks, in the near future. The Commission will assess progress again towards the end of 2018."
The CVM on Romania was established on January 1 2007 to assess progress against the commitments made by the country in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption.
In the previous CVM report released in January 2017, the Commission took stock and gave an overview of the achievements of the past 10 years and the remaining steps needed to achieve the CVM's objectives. It defined 12 recommendations, most of them focusing on the responsibility and accountability required from the Romanian authorities and the internal safeguards needed to ensure the irreversibility of the results.
On November 12, thousands of people rallied in Bucharest and other Romanian cities to protest against controversial fiscal changes announced by the government and to support the fight against corruption.
This was the second straight Sunday of protests in Romania. On November 5, some 35,000 people protested in Bucharest and other Romanian cities to support the fight against corruption.
Attempts of the government coalition to include some corruption offences in a draft bill on prison pardons sparked the biggest nationwide protests in Romania since the fall of Communism in February.
(1 euro=4.6482 lei)
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