EU voices 'great concern' over Romania corruption

Only last week, the Commission had commended Romania for progress made since it joined the European Union to bring its civil society norms up to EU standards, especially in combatting corruption.

EU voices 'great concern' over Romania corruption

World Bulletin / News Desk

The EU voiced concern on Wednesday over events in Romania, warning the government must not backtrack on the fight against corruption after thousands protested against an emergency government decree slashing penalties for abuses.

"The fight against corruption needs to be advanced, not undone. We are following the latest developments in Romania with great concern," European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and his deputy, Frans Timmermans, said in a joint statement.

"The Commission warns against backtracking and will look thoroughly at the emergency ordinance... in this light," they added.

"I hope in 2017 we will see the speed, determination and internal safeguards needed to complete the necessary reforms and ensure the irreversibility of the results," Timmermans had said when releasing a regular annual report on Romania.

Late Tuesday, thousands took to the streets in Bucharest and other Romanian cities to protest the emergency decree which allows several politicians to avoid criminal prosecution.

The government said the changes were necessary to bring the law into line with the constitution but Romania's centre-right President Klaus Iohannis, elected in 2014 on an anti-graft platform, condemned the decree as a "hard blow" against reform and the fight to root out corruption.

In their statement Wednesday, Juncker and Timmermans said last week's progress report "acknowledged the track record achieved so far by prosecutors and judges in Romania in addressing high-level corruption."

"At the same time, it made clear that any steps which undermine this progress, or have the effect of weakening or shrinking the scope of corruption as an offence, would have an impact on any future assessments."

The EU has carried out what is known as a Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) review on both Romania and Bulgaria since they joined the bloc in 2007.

Both countries chafe at the procedure, feeling they have been singled out for special attention and Juncker has previously promised to halt the review by the time he steps down in 2019.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Şubat 2017, 15:11