February 20, 2019
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission is greatly concerned about the latest changes to Romanian judicial legislation through a government emergency decree and will ask Bucharest to explain itself, the Commission said on Wednesday.
The Romanian government’s decree on Tuesday prompted criticism from the president that the move would weaken prosecutors while tightening political control over the judiciary.
It was the latest in a slew of legislative and personnel changes the governing Social Democrats have made in the past two years that the European Commission, the U.S. State Department and thousands of Romanian magistrates say threaten the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.
“The Commission is following with great concern the latest developments concerning the rule of law in Romania,” Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a news briefing.
“Both the content and the procedure of the latest changes using emergency ordinances without any consultation with the judiciary and stakeholders seem to be in direct contradiction with the recommendations of the Commission.”
Transparency International ranks Romania as one of the European Union’s most corrupt countries and the European Commission keeps its justice system under special monitoring.
“Romania needs very urgently to put the reform process back on track. This means going forward, not backwards, and abstaining from any steps that reverse the progress accomplished over past years,” Schinas said.
“The Commission will seek clarification from the Romanian government on these latest changes.”
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by David Goodman)