The European Commission is calling on the EU Council and the European Parliament to maintain a Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) monitoring Romanian justice reform, in its latest CVM report issued on Tuesday. The report warns of backtracking from the progress made in previous years and set out in the report a year ago. And is says the evolution of the situation in the first part of this year was "of great concern".
According to the conclusions of the report:
- Since the last report, the Commission has had to revert frequently to developments in Romania relating to judicial reform and the fight against corruption. On each of these occasions, the Commission has confirmed the backtracking from the progress made in previous years and set out in the November 2018 report.
- The evolution of the situation in the first months of 2019 was a source of great concern. As a result, the Commission had to inform the Romanian authorities in May 2019 that if the necessary improvements were not made shortly, or if further negative steps were taken, the Commission would take steps under the rule of law framework, which foresees a dialogue to address rule of law concerns (and which can therefore go beyond the parameters of the CVM).
- The Commission welcomed the fact that in June, the Romanian government expressed a wish to reset the approach, and effort has been invested in new consultation mechanisms and dialogue with the judiciary. The Commission looks forward to the competent Romanian authorities translating this commitment into concrete legislative and other measures. Progress will require tangible steps, legislative and administrative, to address the recommendations summarised in this report. The key institutions of Romania need to collectively demonstrate a strong commitment to judicial independence and the fight against corruption as indispensable cornerstones, and to ensure the capacity of national safeguards and checks and balances to act.
- The Commission will continue to follow developments closely through the CVM. It regrets that Romania did not engage with the recommendations made in November 2018, which were fully in line with the positions of the other EU institutions. These recommendations need to be followed if the reform process is to be put back on track and the path resumed towards the conclusion of the CVM as set out in the January 2017 report. The Commission is confident that Romania could give a new momentum to fulfilling the objectives of the CVM and stands ready to help the Romanian authorities to this end.
In the press release acompanying the report, the Commission says key institutions in Romania have to prove their commitment to the independence of the Judiciary and the fight against corruption and secure the efficiency of national guarantees and checks and balances.