The European Commission expects Romania to deliver its first report on the progress in justice reform by March 31. Unless the country fulfills all reform objectives set in a decision adopted on December 13, 2006, the Commission may apply safeguard clauses on sectorial basis, which would prevent Romania to act as a full EU member in those specific areas.

EC spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing says the Commission will focus on the targets of reform and will only comment on factual data and not on various names or domestic political events in Romania.

This will be the first of a series of reports Romania is due to deliver yearly for three years since it joined the EU on January 1, 2007.

The four objectives that must be met are: a higher, more efficient transparency in the running of the Superior Council of Magistrates and monitoring the effects of the Criminal and Civil Procedure Codes; to establish a National Agency of Integrity to verify the wealth, incompatibilities and possible conflict of interests among dignitaries; continuing bipartisan investigations on high-level corruption cases; and prevention of graft at local administration level.

Romania still reports most of these areas. Proposed changes to a law aimed at intensifying inquiries in corruption cases were rejected as magistrates claimed these applied negative “psychological pressure” on criminal investigators.

The law establishing the Agency for Integrity is yet to be adopted by Senators and has gone through considerable changes that prompted repeated warnings from Brussels.

In 2006, the National Anti-corruption Department opened criminal cases against seven MPs, two state secretaries and a member of the government, as well as a series of business people, but the processes have been developing very slowly.