The European Parliament on Wednesday hosted a debate on the impact of the amendments to the laws of justice on the rule of law in Romania, mainly focusing on the development of the reform in the judicial system in Romania and the threat it could represent to the rule of law. The debate was attended by European Commissioner for Justice, Vera Jourova, who reiterated warnings over the amendments operated on the justice laws in Romania.
According to Jourova, the debates in Romania on the justice laws have prompted concerns within the EU and beyond the EU’s borders. She reminded that Romanians had taken to the street to voice their opposition against the justice laws and concern over corruption. “The Commission is sharing these concerns”, the commissioner said, also reminding that GRECO had decided as a first to launch its own inquiry on this topic and to publish a report in March.
Jourova further said that Romania has one of the best judiciary systems in the region, yet the Commission has proposed several remaining recommendations and the fulfillment of these recommendations could have led to lifting the CVM. The EC Justice commissioner stated that in the last CVM report released in December 2017, the Commission voiced its concerns over the justice laws’ content, and the Superior Council of Magistracy did the same. “These concerns should be taken seriously”, Jourova stressed.
The commissioner asked the Romanian Government if the process to amend the justice laws observes the justice independence, arguing that the fact the justice rulings and integrity norms are slammed provides the European officials with no confidence.
Vera Jourova urged again the Romanian Gov’t to consult the Venice Commission on any amendment operated to the justice laws, in order to ensure the justice independence and the anti-corruption fight.
The EC commissioner considers that Romania’s President has a key role in the action regarding the justice laws. “We know he is taking this action seriously,” she said, adding that Romania and Romanians have been going through a marathon and the arrival is on the horizon, while a potential step back would be a disappointment for all Romania’s friends. According to her, the speed that Romania will reach the winning post is only up to Romania and the Commission “is here to help it”.
While the EPP and Socialist representatives in the EP also voiced concerns and somehow backed Jourova, the European Conservatives had an assonant stance.
Roberta Metsola, EPP, stated that the European Parliament will not close its eyes on this issue, reminding that Romanians took to the streets during winter and snowfall and flew EU flags for they believe in the EU values. What’s happening in Bucharest is also affecting the people in Paris, she argued.
Josef Weidenholzer, Socialists, pointed out that Romania is a very important country and they are not indifferent when criticism is voiced.
Kosma Zlotowski, Conservatives told commissioner Jourova that she cannot come like a teacher and lesson to a democratic government.
Justice Minister meets European Parliament party groups on laws of justice, says disinformation ongoing
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader also attended the debate in Strasbourg, but was not allowed to take the floor. He said before the sitting that the debate is a political one, with no other Justice ministers attending.
Toader met on Tuesday the co-presidents of the Group of European Conservatives and Reformists, as well as the Group of European Socialists, telling journalists after these meetings that disinformation is ongoing at European level.
Asked if there is disinformation at European level, Toader said: “I am convinced. There is something, coming from lack of knowledge or disinformation, maybe from other considerations.”
“It was a good day, with lots of meetings. Considering the meeting with Vice-President Frans Timmermans, we’ve had clarifying discussions, I tried to bring more understanding regarding the law-making mechanism in Romania on the laws of justice, the amendments to the criminal code, to the conflicts of interest and incompatibilities. Personally, I believe it was a good meeting. I also believe absolutely everyone listened to my words carefully and I hope that in this way I contributed to a better understanding of the Romanian law-making mechanism,” Toader said, hotnews.ro informs.
The Justice Minister added that his obligation is to deliver correct information, in due time, so he will set up a department with the ministry for better communication and for answering the messages which are not real.