EU to lift ‘rule of law’ monitoring of Romania by end of year, PM says

Foto: Inquam Photos / Ilona Andrei

Romania’s prime minister on Thursday announced the European Union is ready to lift special monitoring of the rule of law in his country by the end of the year.

“Good news for Romania,” Prime Minister Florin Citu wrote on his Facebook on Thursday. “The European Commission supports the elimination of the CVM (Cooperation and Verification Mechanism) at the end of this year.”

Rule of law

Mr Citu said he had met Vera Jourova, Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency on Thursday and they discussed  the report on the rule of law in Romania.

Romania
and Bulgaria were put under special monitoring when they joined the EU in 2007
amid concerns over the rule of law and corruption, and in Bulgaria’s case, organized
crime.

The Commission set up the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism known as the CVM as a safeguarding measure to address the shortcomings.

Frustration

However, successive governments have expressed frustration that more than 13 years after they joined the bloc, the mechanism is still in place, suggesting there hasn’t been any progress.

In 2019, when the previous Social
Democrat government was in power, the EU issued a report noting Romania’s
had backtracked on justice reforms and the fight against corruption.

But the  prime minister said that the Liberal-led government and the European Commission now see eye to eye on overturning an “unfortunate” judicial overhaul that was put in place from 2017 to 2019 by the former government.

Healing process

“Respect for
the rule of law, democracy and fundamental human rights are not negotiable,” he
said. “They are the primary political foundation of the European Union and must
be vigorously protected.”

He said the “regaining
the independence of the judiciary” had already begun and it was “a healing
process.

“It will not
be easy, but it is inevitable.”

The
Romanian prime minister also said his government supported the
mechanism, and stressed Romania’s commitment to the rule of law.

“I share Ms
Jourová’s wish to complete in the first half of this year the commitments
regarding the rule of law, which Romania has as a member state of the European
Union,” he said.

.

He said the
justice minister, representatives of the judiciary and civil society “have a
European goal: to deliver legislation that guarantees the long-term
independence of the judiciary which will withstand political pressure.”

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