EU Council validates Kovesi as European Chief Prosecutor, despite the Romanian Government’s initial veto

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COREPER, the EU Council’s main preparatory body, has validated Laura Codruta Kovesi as European Chief Prosecutor by 17 votes out of 22. The COREPER Council has convened today to discuss about bids for first European Chief Prosecutor position in the EU history.

COREPER is the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union, consisting of the heads or deputy heads of mission from the EU member states in Brussels.

The spokesperson of the Finnish Presidency of the EU Council, Marko Ruonala has explained the vote today had been informal, and an official vote will be available after the conclusion of the negotiations between the European Parliament and the EU Council. “This is not the final word on this matter, the informal vote has though confirmed there is enough majority in favor of Mrs Kovesi. The informal vote has been secret”, Ruonala said.

Kovesi: A success for all Romanians supporting the anti-corruption fight

Laura Codruta Kovesi  has been head of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) until recently.

After the validation vote, Kovesi told Digi24 that it is a success of all Romanians who endorsed the anti-corruption fight. “It is an important step within the procedure, we’ll have to wait though for the official decision. Looking at the vote today it is an acknowledgement of the activity conducted by the entire judiciary system, a success of all Romanians who endorsed the anti-corruption fight. The fact I ranked first after the technical interview did matter.

I hope that, if it is concluded, this appointment to represent a motivation for all Romanian prosecutors and judges to support the anti-corruption fight, to know that professionalism and consistency are the only one that matter when you want to succeed,” the former DNA chief stated.

She added she had talked neither to President Iohannis, nor to PM or to Romanian ambassador regarding the votes.

 President Iohannis: A victory for Romania

President Klaus Iohannis has hailed the vote for Laura Codruta Kovesi, arguing it is a major victory for Romania, the more it has been obtained despite the Government’s opposition. The head of state pointed out that the vote has been “substantial” and that he will continue to endorse professional Romanians for leading positions within the EU.

“I hail the vote (…) I am glad the vote granted by the EU member states has been substantial, which confirms the appreciation for Mrs Kovesi’s training, expertise and competence. The result today represents an important victory for Romania, the more it has been obtained despite the fact the PSD Government has constantly tried to block the candidature of a professional acknowledged for her fight against corruption and to defend the rule of law,” reads Klaus Iohannis’ message.

Boycotted by the Romanian Gov’t

Even if Kovesi has not enjoyed the Romanian Government, with PM Dancila recently announcing that the Executive is not endorsing the former DNA chief for the European position, she has got a real shot to obtain the seat.

Apparently, President Iohannis has asked Romanian ambassador‎ to the EU, Luminita Odobescu to vote for Kovesi and Odobescu would have agreed.

The COREPER meeting comes after on Tuesday the negotiation teams of the European Parliament and the EU Council had had a video conference tackling the issue of the future chief of the European Prosecutor’s Office, with both parties maintaining their initial options, meaning that the EP is endorsing Kovesi, while the EU Council is supporting French Jean-Francois Bohnert.

The team of the EP negotiators consists of Monika Hohlmeier, president of CONT committee, EPP, Germany; Spanish Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, president of the Justice Committee, LIBE, representing the S&D Group and Maite Pagazaurtundua, vice-president of LIBE Committee, Renew, Spain.

Back in Romania, Dancila Cabinet has stuck to the initial position of opposing Kovesi’s bid.

PM Viorica Dancila has told Europa Liberă after the vote that Romania’s image might be hurt if accusations against Kovesi prove to be true. At the same time, Dacila has denied that Romania’s ambassador to the EU, Luminita Odobescu, had voted for Kovesi, as sources had revealed. Asked how Odobescu voted today, Dancila replied: “As I said, she voted against”.

PM Dancila had stated on Wednesday evening as well that the Government had mandated Romanian ambassador to COREPER, Luminita Odobescu, to vote against Kovesi.

“We are not endorsing a mandate for Kovesi, for I think it is a natural approach, when there are suspicions on a certain person regardless of the position for which she is running, that person must first clear things up”, said Dancila.

Despite Romania is not supporting its own candidate, most EU countries are. Although its candidate Bohnert is still in the race, France has voiced support for Kovesi, with French President Emmanuel Macron assuring President Iohannis about that two months ago.

New supporters have come up meanwhile, namely Bulgaria, Greece and Croatia. Although he initially opposed Kovesi’s candidature, Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov announced at the end of July that he will endorse the Romanian candidate. Sources say that Bulgaria had changed its mind following the negotiations of President Iohannis and of the Liberal leaders with the Bulgarian side.

Other sources also revealed that Finland’s ambassador to the EU is to test Kovesi’s endorsement within COREPER and to ask a vote only for Kovesi, as Finland is also holding the Presidency of the EU council.

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