The European Commission’s Frans Timmermans suggested getting international constitutional experts to vet draft changes to Romania’s justice laws that prompted anti-corruption protests over the weekend, politico.eu informs.
In a meeting with the Romanian Justice Minister Tudorel Toader in Brussels on Tuesday, Timmermans — the Commission’s first vice president — “recalled the value of submitting the laws to the Venice Commission for their opinion,” according to a Commission official.
The European Commission has been monitoring Romania’s fight against high-level corruption since it joined the EU a decade ago, under a special mechanism created for Romania and Bulgaria. As Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has promised to take Romania out of this mechanism by the time he leaves office in 2019, Brussels is keeping a close eye on any legal changes by Bucharest that could see it backslide.
“We talked about consulting the Venice Commission regarding the appointment of top-level prosecutors,” Toader told POLITICO after the meeting, adding that the Commission’s first recommendation in its latest report under the monitoring mechanism regards robust procedures for appointing top-level prosecutors, politico.eu also informs.
Minister Toader: The CVM report will be positive
Wednesday morning, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader said, during a press conference, that the expected CVM report ‘will be positive’ and offered more explanations regarding the meeting with EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans.
“The draft bill (on justice laws – our note) s proposes that the Judicial Inspectorate becomes independent authority, with its own statute, not subordinated to CSM or to the Justice Ministry. (…) The magistrates’ responsibility, another sensitive topic, keeps on the constitutional guarantees, as the state is responsible for the alleged judicial errors made by the magistrates. (…) After compensating the victim, if the magistrate is proven to have acted in ill faith, negligent, the state is to target the magistrate in three year’s time, as compared to the current regulation which reads only one year. (…) Another topic was the one on appointing the high ranking prosecutors. (…) The first recommendation was to use a transparent procedure to appoint the high ranking prosecutors, including by submitting the laws to the Venice Commission for their opinion,” the Justice Minister said.
He also explained that the topic of abuse of office is to receive the European Commission’s viewpoint, “meaning an opinion on the threshold which should be reasonable, a threshold to observe the Constitutional Court’s demands and also the European Directives.”