Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission (EC), said he is encouraging the Romanian Parliament to support the Government’s efforts in reaching the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) objectives.
Timmermans made a visit to Romania on Thursday, where he had meetings with Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, Senate president Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, the president of the Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea, and justice minister Tudorel Toader. He also attended a public debate on the future of the European Union.
When issuing the latest CVM report in January, the EC said it would continue to monitor Romania until the progress in fighting corruption and reforming its justice system is irreversible. At the same time, in the 2017 report on Romania issued this February, the European Commission said that corruption persists at all levels and remains an obstacle for doing business in Romania.
“To be successful in the CVM process, I encourage the Romanian Parliament to support the Government in the final stretch of the marathon #CVM,” Timmermans wrote on his Twitter account.
First vice-president Timmermans also said that the Romanian people are the main guarantor for rule of law in the country and they will continue the fight against corruption even after the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) on Romania will be removed, News.ro reported.
Timmermans did not specify a date for when the justice monitoring process might be finished but said the direction followed by the Government is going towards the fulfillment of the EC recommendations.
“Our fight for the rule of law and human rights is not one we lead for ourselves. We believe that every European citizen, regardless of where they live, deserves the rule of law,” Timmermans said. He explained that applying the CVM over the past ten years brought about achievements in Romania.
Timmermans also mentioned that changes in the area of justice at the beginning of the year which made the Brussels officials “nervous.”
At the end of January, the Government issued the emergency ordinance no.13, which aimed to decriminalize some corruption deeds, such as abuse of office. The ordinance was repealed by the Government and then rejected by the Parliament on February 21, after a wave of negative reactions from justice specialists, business organizations, and from Romania’s international partners, as well as the biggest street protests Romania has seen in the last 25 years.
“We were nervous a few months ago, when we were under the impression that the entire process would be stopped or the direction changed. I had constructive meetings with Prime Minister Grindeanu. I am convinced that the Romanian people are the main guarantor of the fight against corruption. There is a powerful sentiment in Romanian society that this is the right fight. People want this fight to continue. I am convinced that after these recommendations are met and after the CVM ends, the fight against corruption will be actually continued by the Romanian people. This is the best guarantee that the process will continue after the CVM will end […] Romanians do this not because Brussels tells them to but because the people want this, for themselves,” Timmermans said. He added that some of these achievements did not even seem possible ten years ago.
At the same time, Timmermans said he has “complete trust” in the Romanian Government’s plan and in the projects of the justice minister.
Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu said after his meeting with Timmermans that his objective is to close the CVM before Romania takes over the presidency of the Council of the European Union in January 2019. “It is a matter of prestige and not only, about which I care very very much,” Grindeanu said, quoted by Agerpres. He made the statement at the joint press conference with Frans Timmermans and justice minister Tudorel Toader.
Grindeanu also referenced the four consecutive, positive CVM reports Romania received.
“I want, at the end of 2017, to have a final, positive report, which sets the grounds for closing this mechanism […] I underline the major progress we have won so far in the area of justice and we will not take any step back in what guaranteeing a fair and independent justice act is concerned,” Grindeanu said.