MEPs will set out their views on the latest judicial reforms in Romania and their impact on the separation of powers, in a resolution to be put to the vote on Tuesday, November 13. The resolution is recording the European Parliament’s concern over the criminal and legal legislation in Romania that could undermine the independence of the judiciary system and anti-corruption fight.
The non-legislative resolution will summarise the Parliament’s views following the debate with Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă on 3 October on the revamp of the judicial system, which sparked mass protests in Romania earlier this year.
The document contains 13 recommendations to Romania. The EP resolution is also condemning the violent intervention of the riot police during protests in Bucharest in August 2018.
- Stresses that it is fundamentally important to guarantee that the common European values listed in Article 2 of the TEU are upheld in full, and that fundamental rights as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union are guaranteed;
- Is deeply concerned at the redrafted legislation relating to the Romanian judicial and criminal legislation, regarding specifically its potential to structurally undermine the independence of the judicial system and the capacity to fight corruption effectively in Romania, as well as to weaken the rule of law;
- Condemns the violent and disproportionate intervention by the police during the protests in Bucharest in August 2018;
- Calls on the Romanian authorities to put in place safeguards in order to assure a transparent and legal basis for any institutional cooperation and avoid any interference that upsets the checks and balances system; calls for parliamentary control over the intelligence services to be reinforced;
- Urges the Romanian authorities to counter any measures which would decriminalise corruption in office, and to apply the national anti-corruption strategy;
- Strongly recommends reconsideration of the legislation on the financing, organisation and functioning of NGOs with regard to its potential intimidating effect on civil society and its entry into conflict with the principle of freedom of association and the right to privacy; believes it should be brought fully into line with the EU framework;
- Expresses its deep concern regarding political restrictions on media freedom and the proposed legislation that would penalise denigration of Romania abroad and reintroduce defamation in the criminal code;
- Urges the Romanian Parliament and Government to fully implement all recommendations of the European Commission, GRECO and the Venice Commission, and to refrain from conducting any reform which would put at risk respect for the rule of law, including the independence of the judiciary; urges continued engagement with civil society, and stresses the need to address the issues referred to above on the basis of a transparent and inclusive process; encourages proactively seeking evaluation by the Venice Commission of the legislative measures at stake before their final approval;
- Calls on the Romanian Government to cooperate with the European Commission, pursuant to the principle of sincere cooperation as set out in the Treaty;
- Reiterates its regret that the Commission decided not to publish the EU Anti-Corruption Report in 2017, and strongly urges it to resume its annual anti-corruption monitoring in all Member States without delay; invites the Commission to develop a system of strict indicators and easily applicable, uniform criteria to measure the level of corruption in the Member States and evaluate their anti-corruption policies, in line with Parliament’s resolution of 8 March 2016 on the Annual Report 2014 on the Protection of the EU’s Financial Interests
- Advocates strongly a regular, systematic and objective process of monitoring and dialogue involving all Member States, in order to safeguard the EU’s basic values of democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law and involving the Council, the Commission and Parliament, as proposed in its resolution of 25 October 2016 on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (the DRF Pact); reiterates that this mechanism should consist of an annual report with country-specific recommendations;
- Calls on the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, to monitor the follow-up given to the recommendations by the Romanian authorities, while continuing to offer full support to Romania in finding adequate solutions;
- Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the President of Romania.
The resolution mentions that the MEPs have taken into regard, among others, the ad hoc report on Romania of 11 April 2018 by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the Commission’s report of 15 November 2017 under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism on progress in Romania, the adoption of three laws reforming the judiciary by the Romanian Parliament in December 2017, namely law No 303/2004 on the status of judges and prosecutors, law No 304/2004 on judicial organisation and law No 317/2004 on the Superior Council of the Magistracy; having regard to the adoption of amendments to the Criminal Code in June 2018 and to the Criminal Procedure Code in July 2018, as well as the decision of the Romanian Constitutional Court of 20 October 2018 ruling that 64 of the 96 changes to the Criminal Procedure Code are unconstitutional; having regard to the Constitutional Court’s declaration of 25 October 2018 that 30 of the amendments to the Criminal Code are incompatible with the Constitution, and the repeated mass protests since January 2017 against corruption and in favour of the rule of law, including the ‘Diaspora at Home’ mass protest on 10 August 2018 in Bucharest, which left hundreds of people needing medical treatment following violent intervention by the police.