Update – EC reports on progress in Romania under the CVM: Challenges to judicial independence are a serious source of concern. JusMin says report is positive

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The European Commission has issued on Wednesday its latest report on steps taken by Romania to meet its commitments on judicial reform and the fight against corruption, in the context of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) set up when the country joined the European Union in 2007, the Commission’s website informs.

The report looks concretely at the progress made to meet the 12 recommendations issued by the Commission in its January 2017 CVM Report.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “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.”

The Commission’s last report in January 2017 took stock of overall progress in the past ten years and identified 12 specific recommendations which would help Romania move towards fulfilment 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.

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 Commission remains of the opinion that with loyal cooperation between State institutions, a political steer holding firm to past achievements and with respect for judicial independence, Romania will be able to fulfil the outstanding recommendations, and therefore satisfactorily meet the CVM benchmarks, in the near future. The Commission will assess progress again towards the end of 2018.

In the previous CVM report of January 2017, the Commission took stock and gave an overview of the achievements of the past 10 years and the remaining steps needed to achieve the CVM’s objectives. It defined 12 recommendations, most of them focusing on the responsibility and accountability required from the Romanian authorities and the internal safeguards needed to ensure the irreversibility of the results. The report highlighted that the speed of the process would depend on how quickly Romania will be able to fulfil the recommendations in an irreversible way and also on avoiding negative steps which could call into question the progress made in the past 10 years.

The report on Wednesday concerns the period since January 2017. It contains the Commission’s assessment of how the Romanian authorities have followed-up on the 12 recommendations, and is complemented by a staff working document which sets out the Commission’s detailed analysis, drawing on continuous dialogue between the Romanian authorities and the Commission services, the EC release reads.

Justice Minister Tudorel Toader claims the report is positive

The conclusion drawn by the EC report on Romania in the context of CVM is that Romania can meet the objective set by the European Commission, i.e. to lift the monitoring in 2018, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader has said on Wednesday, after the report was released.

The minister said that Brussels has noticed the progress made by Romania in meeting the recommendations set in January 2017.

“It is a stage report, this is very important to underline,” Tudorel Toader said, underscoring several times that Romania could meet the objective of waiving the CVM monitoring next year.

The Justice Minister wanted to answer only one question, in connection with the pace of amending the justice laws.

Tudorel Toader replied that, if there is “concern, it comes from the debut of a legislative process, a package of laws that hasn’t passed the first commission, it takes time to get promulgated. Only the final form, the law can produce legal effects.”

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