The COREPER Council convenes on Thursday to discuss the first top European prosecutor, a position for which Romanian candidate Laura Codruta Kovesi is running. Despite that Kovesi, who has served as head of Romania's anti-graft prosecutor's office DNA, is seen as top contender, the Romanian Government through the voice of PM Viorica Dancila announced on Wednesday that it would not support Kovesi and the Romanian representative to COREPER would vote against her. The Goverment itself is facing an increasingly complicated situation back home when it comes to its moves on Justice affairs.
PM Dancila stated that her governing Social Democrats oppose Kovesi and Romania's Ambassador to the EU Luminita Odobescu would give a negative vote. The statement came as the PSD government is embroiled in escalating political trouble:
- Dancila referred to the need that the situation be cleared about Kovesi - hinting at a case opened against Kovesi by a "special section" formed to investigate members of the judiciary for alleged irregularities.
- The section itself has been the target of harsh criticism as it is seen as an attempt to put the judiciary under political control. And its been facing operational troubles as attempts to nominate a controversial prosecutor picked by a former member of the PSD Government at the helm of this body failed repeatedly so far.
- Romania's PM is also facing difficulties with plans of government changes. A Constitutional Court order issued on Wednesday forces President Klaus Iohannis to revoke Justice minister Ana Birchall. PM had requested Birchall's reshuffle and her replacement with a controversial magistrate, but the President rejected the change - a move that the Court saw as not-OK. In the meantime, the United States has voiced public support for Birchall and for a while it appeared that everybody stepped back on Birchall's replacement. Now, PM Dancila said on TV news channel Antena 3 on Wednesday night that a new minister would be nominated from among magistrates.
- But, PM Dancila would not come before the Parliament to get support for new ministers before a censure motion promised by the opposition, as the PSD leadership decided.
- In the meantime, minister Birchall faced members of the magistrates forum CSM who support the "special section" aimed at keeping prosecutors in check, opposing their fifth attempt to nominate a new head for the body.
Now, the political disputes go to EU fora, with the Kovesi candidacy at stake. The COREPER Council session comes after negotiators for the European Parliament and the EU Council maintained their support for Kovesi and French candidate Jean-Francois Bohnert respectively during talks on Tuesday.
Now, there are two scenarios on how the situation may evolve.
- One would be a vote for the three candidates for top EU prosecutor job - Kovesi, Bohnert and German candidate Andres Ritter.
- The second would be that the Finnish Ambassador, whose country holds the EU Council presidency, test the COREPER Council support for Kovesi and ask a vote for her alone.
According to sources, Kovesi is top contender in both scenarios.
In July, French President Macron informed Romanian counterpart Iohannis that Bohnert's candidacy would be withdrawn and Kovesi would be supported - and Bohnert was nominated head of the national financial Prosecutor's office.
In the meantime, other countries changed their position on Kovesi - Bulgaria, Greece and Croatia.