Covid pandemic, elections delay judicial reform in Romania- European Commission

Inquam Photos / Liviu Florin Albei

The European Commission says the coronavirus pandemic and upcoming general elections in Romania are obstacles to the country’s anti-corruption fight and judicial reforms.

The European Commission published an audit on the rule of law Wednesday on all 27 EU members, amid concerns that the bloc has failed to act against democratic backsliding among some of its members.

The Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, singled out a department in Romania that was set up to investigate wrongdoing committed by judges and prosecutors in a report.

Hungary and Poland came under special criticism in the reports, and Romania was also not spared scrutiny.

The release of the report came as European diplomats reached a preliminary agreement to tie access to EU. funds to respect for the rule of law.

In the report, the Commission said that the controversial department was a threat to judicial independence ad could affect the efficiency of the justice system.

The Commission however noted that in 2020, Romania’s minority Liberal government had committed to judicial reform after backsliding under the former Social Democrat government from 2017 to 2019.

„The recent appointments of new leadership for key prosecutorial services could pave the way for more efficient continuation of prosecutorial activity,” the report said.

Even though Romania has a well regulated ordinary process for preparing and enacting laws, including an extended institutional set-up of checks and balances, the effectiveness of the process varies, the Commission noted.

The Commission said that emergency government ordinances are still widely used and successive uncoordinated legislative amendments impact on the quality of laws and legal predictability, including for the business environment. 

In its report it said that media was subject to political pressures or lacked the resources todo its job.

Romania joined the EU in 2007 and its justice system remains under special monitoring. The mechanism was enacted as a a transitional measure to keep pressure on Romania to reform the judiciary and step up the fight against corruption.

Romania will hold parliamentary elections on December 6.


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