The European Commission has published its first report based on the rule of law mechanism. The document covers each of the 27 member states of the European Union, including Romania. The report, presented by EC Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova and European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, was produced with input from each Member State and addresses both the positive and negative developments in this area in throughout the EU.
Even if the biggest criticisms are addressed to Hungary and Poland, remarks were also made to Romania, Croatia or Slovakia. Regarding the independence of the judiciary, the report mentions that “in Romania, the controversial reforms carried out between 2017 and 2019 with a negative impact on the judiciary continue to be in force. In 2020, the government expressed its commitment to repair the changes made in recent years, which led to a significant easing of tensions with the judiciary.
The EC criticizes the procedure for appointing chief prosecutors. Thus, the report notes that the procedure for appointing the heads of the General Prosecutor’s Office (Gabriela Scutea) and DIICOT (Giorgiana Hosu, who has resigned in the meantime) despite the negative opinion of the SCM causes “concerns”. The European Commission recalls that the latest MCV report recommended Romania to establish a “more robust and independent” procedure for appointing chief prosecutors.
Emergency ordinances, in excess
On overused emergency ordinances, the report notes that “in Romania, the widespread use of emergency ordinances in key areas, including judicial reforms, has raised concerns about the quality of legislation, the stability of legal relations and compliance. separation of powers in the state. Frequent recourse to fast-forward procedures or the adoption of laws based on legislative initiatives introduced directly in parliament, without going through the normal consultation procedures, is also a risk from the perspective of the rule of law ”.
Difficulties in obtaining public information
Regarding access to public information, the report states that “this right is guaranteed in the Constitution or in secondary legislation in all Member States, but in some countries there are obstacles or delays in providing information. Repeated difficulties and obstacles to obtaining information have been reported in the Czech Republic, Malta and Romania. “
Civil society, a key role in the fight against corruption
In the chapter on civil society, the document states that “in many Member States, civil society has shown resilience in difficult circumstances and continues to play an active role in the national and European rule of law debate as part of the checks and balances system. balances. In Slovakia, civil society reacted strongly after the assassination of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, in 2018. In Romania, the strong involvement of civil society was the key element in encouraging reforms in the fight against corruption and in the defense of the state. right in this country ”.
“Media property transparency seems to be incomplete”
In the press, the report states that there are concerns about the politicization of control bodies in Hungary, Malta and Poland and that “there are concerns about the efficiency of some national media authorities in terms of allocated resources”, given as examples Bulgaria, Greece, Luxembourg, Romania and Slovenia.
Regarding Romania, the report notes that “the transparency of media ownership seems to be incomplete”, and the media is exposed to “political pressures, given that there are no legal guarantees regarding editorial independence, separate from self-regulation at the level of newsrooms and publishers.”