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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission criticized Romania on Wednesday for failing to fully meet demands on protecting democracy and the rule of law, and told the leftist government of Victor Ponta to speed up reforms.

The EU executive said in a report the authorities had taken some steps in recent months to uphold constitutional law, after the Commission expressed concerns last year that political bickering was undermining democracy in the Black Sea state.

But they have allowed political pressure on the justice system to continue and undermined the country's anti-corruption prosecutors, it said.

"The lack of respect for the independence of the judiciary and the instability faced by judicial institutions remain a source of concern," the Commission said.

Since joining the European Union six years ago, Romania has failed to convince its European partners that its justice system and anti-corruption efforts are up to standard.

Late last year, the Commission blocked payment of development funds for Romania, worth potentially billions of euros, because of concerns over fraud in public procurement.

(Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; editing by Rex Merrifield)

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