Bucharest, January 27, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Irina Stoica
The Parliament is the main “target” in the latest report by the European Commission on progress in Romania under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). Though high praise came from Brussels for the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), EU experts have highlighted that in 2015 Parliament refused about one third of DNA’s requests aimed at lifting the immunity of members of Parliament. “Adopt objective criteria for deciding on and motivating lifting of immunity of Members of Parliament and ensure that immunity is not used to avoid investigation and prosecution of corruption crimes”, the European Commission recommends.
The report mentions the DNA indicted over 1,250 defendants in the course of 2015, and this included the prime minister, former ministers, members of Parliament, mayors, presidents of county councils, judges, prosecutors and a wide variety of senior officials. It’s also noted that the DNA also increased its interim asset freezing measures relating to these cases, to reach a figure of 452 million euro.
The Commission also issued a warning to Romanian authorities, mentioning that “2016 will be a test year in many respects. The extent to which integrity issues prevail in the appointments to the senior positions in the judiciary and the scrutiny of candidates for forthcoming elections will be key signs of the extent to which reform is taking root. The continuation of the trend of reform will also be a signal of sustainability”.
The EC report makes a reference to the local elections (June 2016) and Parliamentary elections (November 2016). As far as local corruption was concerned, the report mentions that a particular trend has been the identification of corruption at local level. Since 2013, the total numbers of local officials sent to trial for corruption amount to almost 100 mayors, over 20 county council presidents and dozens of other local officials. The report adds that the track record of the institutions involved in fighting high-level corruption remains strong, with regular indictments and conclusion of cases concerning senior politicians and civil servants. Overall, the European Commission assesses that successful prosecution and conviction of many prominent politicians in Romania for high level corruption is a sign that the underlying trend of judicial independence is positive, and that no one committing a crime is beyond the reach of justice. “The report published today by the European Commission shows that the main institutions in the judiciary and integrity fields kept getting impressive results in the fight against high-level corruption.
This confirms the sustainability of the efforts of Romanian authorities and their determination to carry out the necessary reforms for the Romanian society,” reads a press release from Romanian president Klaus Iohannis. “The President of Romania is further determined in his support to the judiciary and anti-corruption approaches, and he voices his certainty that the progress registered will be consolidated in 2016”, the Presidential Administration adds.
The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) was established upon Romania’s accession to the European Union in 2007. Since then, CVM reports have assessed Romania’s progress while trying to guide the efforts of Romanian authorities through specific recommendations about judiciary reforms and the fight against corruption.
(The full version of the European Commission CVM report for Romania is available here: http://ec.europa.eu/cvm/docs/com_2016_41_en.pdf)