Update: Frans Timmermans warns Romania about amendments to laws of justice, Gov’t could be brought to court. Dancila and Toader’s stance

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Heated debates in Strasbourg Monday evening, in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), about the situation in Romania. The European Commission warns the Government it could be brought to court if the EU rules will be violated. European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans has requested the Bucharest authorities to rethink the amendments brought to the laws of justice and to the Criminal Codes, stiri.tvr.ro reports.

Prime Minister Viorica Dancila and Justice Minister Tudorel Toader were in Strasbourg on Tuesday to discuss with EC’s Timmermans to request clear recommendations.

The laws have not been yet promulgated, it is not too late that the Romanian institutions make a step back, Frans Timmermans said on Monday. “The Commission will very carefully analyse the adopted laws and their conformity to the European laws. In the coming Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) next month we will assess the report. The situation has worsened against the latest reports. (…) A step back would be a great disappointment for all Romania’s friends (…) It would be a tragedy if in the last kilometer of the marathon you’d run in the opposite direction. (…) If we reach the conclusion that the rules are violated, we won’t hesitate to make the necessary steps, even to bring the Romanian Government to court. Meanwhile, we appeal to the Romanian Government to bring the reform process back to the right track,” the EC First Vice-President said.

He stressed there is a real risk Romania makes steps back. The EC calls on to the Romanian authorities to rethink the turn they’ve made, an appeal to be repeated in the plenary sitting. The EC is ready to support the Romanian authorities in this regard, Timmermans said, adding that he had several meetings with the Romanian PM, with Parliament speakers, but he cannot hide the fact that recent events are of concern and preoccupation.

Frans Timmermans said it is not too late for the Parliament to change its mind.

Unfortunately, the Parliament in Romania has not signaled it wants to react, to respond to the recommendations. The options to challenge its decisions to the Constitutional Court have been consumed – one of the three bills is already promulgated and the others could be promulgated in the following two weeks. In regard to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, the Parliament launched in May a procedure to amend these codes. The amendments were adopted in June and July. The law enforcement authorities and other interested parties have expressed concern. The amendments were challenged to the Constitutional Court and decisions are expected by mid-October. Furthermore, the Venice Commission will adopt recommendations this month. It is about the judges’ capability to condemn high level corruption and the prosecutors’ possibilities to investigate the offenses. Question marks arose about the cooperation between the intelligence services and the anticorruption authority, these are legitimate questions. But it is the Parliament to oversee the activity of the intelligence services. We should avoid a negative impact on justice independence and its capability to fight corruption. This issue has been discussed with the Romanian high level authorities, Frans Timmermans said.

Talking about the events during the rally on August 10, the EC First Vice-President expressed concern about the violence between the law enforcing authorities and the protesters.

The European Parliament is hosting a debate on October 3, regarding the violent protests on August 10, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila has been invited to attend the works.

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