Official: EU monitoring of Romania for graft may soon end

AP News
Posted: Apr 20, 2017 8:48 AM

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's government is committed to judicial and other reforms that would end a decade-long monitoring process of the EU member, a top EU official said Thursday.

Frans Timmermans, European Union First Vice President and European Commissioner for the rule of law, said Romania is "in the final, final meters of this long marathon," after talks with Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and Justice Minister Tudorel Toader.

Timmermans said he is confident government projects will put Romania "on the right track" to conclude the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism implemented when Romania joined the bloc in 2007.

He said once monitoring ends, "full enjoyment of human rights and .... the rule of law ... will be irreversible."

However, he added that Romanians are "the best guarantor" of the anti-corruption fight, alluding to massive protests that erupted after the government in January moved to decriminalize official misconduct which it eventually dropped. "The process of fighting corruption will be driven by the will of the Romanian people."

Timmermans said he had made 12 recommendations to the government, without specifying what they were.

The EU said in January Romania needs to ensure a more transparent and efficient judicial process particularly by making top magistrates accountable. It also needs to conduct non-partisan probes into allegations of high-level corruption, and take steps to continue the fight against widespread graft in local government.

Grindeanu said the government is committed to a justice system that is "correct and independent," adding investors need to believe "their money is protected by a predictable and efficient justice system."