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R. Weber: "Fall report will impose conditions on courts' decision validation"

Luni, 29 mai 2006, 0:00

Renate Weber

The president of the Open Society Foundation and former presidential counselor Renate Weber answered questions on courts' rulings and their effects in the wake of Romania’s accession to the EU, and on the justice system and its flaws. Following the accession to EU, is it possible for a Romanian company to address a European court?

Renate Weber: In the EU, a court’s ruling issued in one state is valid throughout the Union. There is no need for special procedures and this is because EU has an economic dimension, besides the political one. This is why it is important that all justice systems are compatible.

However, the problem raised here is whether a decision issued by a Romanian court will be recognized by the EU states. Therefore, is there possible that a Romanian court’s ruling is not valid in the EU?

Renate Weber: Yes, I am afraid that this will be contained in the next EC report. If the date recommendation is January 1, 2007, it is very likely that a series of conditions be imposed, among which the lack of validation for the courts’ rulings for a period of time.

If the Justice system is not considered at the EU standards yet, the Romanian courts’ decisions will be invalid for at least three years, as mentioned in the Accession Treaty. However, despite the conditions, it will be better to be within as inside pressure will have a positive effect upon the current situation that will be forced to improve. How will the invalidation of the rulings affect a Romanian company?

Renate Weber: The court’s decision needs to go through an extra validation process carried out individually for the company in question. This entails extra costs and time. It is even possible to go bankrupt until the rights are recognized.

If Romania will find itself in this situation, no merchant will want to go to Court here. This affects the country’s prestige.
The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg is reserved for European legislation, one addresses it if not satisfied with the home justice.
However, two Romanian companies will have no choice. They cannot address a court abroad, but in the best case they can set an arbitration formula.

The problem rises for the Romanian companies that have to deal with foreign companies, which most probably have provisioned in their contracts clauses that take issues to be solved to their home based courts. What does this entail from a cost perspective?
Renate Weber: It is easier to go to court in your home country as expenses are lower. Do you consider that the EU accession will open door to more commercial trials?

Renate Weber: Commercial trials should be more, but this is to be seen as a positive aspect because the number of small enterprises should grow. The dynamic created by the status of the EU member entails the freedom of movement, and persons and even rials. This is not a bad thing, but it would be very beneficial for us to become a full rights member. Are there European institutions that take action regarding the activity of a company?

Renate Weber: Yes, this is provided in the acquis communautaire, but the European commission does not interfere with a company’s policy. In the Microsoft case, the Ciommission faced some problems because the American company was not respecting the competition principle. The May report cleared the red flag for Romanian Justice.

Renate Weber: The red flag meant “unacceptable” and its clearance means progress has been carried out nut does not mean everything is solved. Following the report, the speeched by EC president Emanuel Barroso and Enlargement commissioner, Olli Rehn, targeted the justice system and the corruption.
I personally see that for organized crime there are cases that are lingering for years and that against corruption there are some cases eyed by the National Anti-Corruption Department. What makes you consider that Romania might face conditions regarding the validation of courts’ decisions in the fall report?

Renate Weber: The EU focuses on justice and the readiness of the system to face the community. There are not enough Romanian judges specialized on commercial law in EU or EU legislation. There will be foreign investors invoking European directives and our judges must deal successfully with these situations.

Of the same importance is the fear that the Romanian justice is corrupt. It is very important that the corruption level is very low to create confidence, but in Romania it is somewhere at 50-60% whereas in other states it rests with 3-5%.

We need specialized courts on punctual topics, such as juvenile delinquency, labor litigations, etc.
There’s also the nee to set in place good European law schools, with good professors and up to date subjects, not only groundless translations. When will the justice reform reach the court room?

Renate Weber: If there is no coherence regarding these changes, it might take very long. There is the example of an ordinance entailing benefits for anti-corruption judges that contained also the current advantages that this professional category enjoys. The ordinance was rejected in the Parliament and with it also the current advantages were denied. This is incoherence.

I believe that in the next 5-6 up to 10 years the changes will be visible in the society’s behavior.

Regarding her withdrawal from the Cotroceni Palace as a presidential counselor, Renate Weber confessed to have been suffering of hernia, the same health problem of president Traian Basescu, that forced her out from a very active political life.

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