Judicial reform and the fight against corruption in Romania are getting stronger. That is what the European Commission recognises in the report issued today, in the context of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) set up when the country joined the European Union in 2007. The Commission cannot yet conclude that any of the CVM benchmarks are at this stage satisfactorily fulfilled, though progress has brought some benchmarks closer to this point.
The report looks concretely at the progress made to meet the 12 recommendations issued by the Commission in its January 2017 CVM Report. “We have seen progress in some areas but there is still more work to be done. Romania has met some of our recommendations, but there is not enough progress yet on others. I count on the Romanian Government to pursue the necessary reforms, and to avoid backtracking, so that we can work together towards the goal of ending the CVM under this Commission’s mandate”, Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President said.
The Commission’s previous report was in January 2017 and took stock of overall progress in the past ten years and identified 12 specific recommendations which would help Romania move towards fulfillment of all CVM benchmarks. Today’s report notes that progress has been achieved on a number of these recommendations, in particular the recommendation to set up a system for checks on conflicts of interest in public procurement (PREVENT) has been satisfactorily implemented.
The Commission also notes progress on other recommendations, subject to practical implementation. At the same time, the Commission notes that the overall reform momentum in the course of 2017 has stalled, slowing down the fulfilment of the remaining recommendations, and with a risk of re-opening issues which the January 2017 report had considered as closed. Challenges to judicial independence are a serious source of concern.
How this procedure began
On 1 January 2007, the Commission established the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism to assess progress against the commitments made by Romania in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption. The Commission reports on progress in these areas on a regular basis –the first report was published on 27 June 2007. The reports have benefitted from contacts with Member States, civil society, international organisations, independent experts and a variety of other sources. The Commission’s conclusions and the methodology of the CVM have consistently enjoyed the strong support of the Council of Ministers…/IBNA