The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the Council of Europe anti-corruption body said on Wednesday that Romania has made some progress in implementing judicial reform since a Liberal-led government took office in 2019, but needs to quicken the pace in order to meet GRECO’s standards, according to Emerging Europe.
GRECO said in regards to Romania’s level of compliance, that despite some progress, reforms remained at an early stage and that the country’s performance is globally unsatisfactory.
“With respect to members of parliament, the level of implementation remains unchanged, except for some procedural requirements with only two of nine recommendations implemented. (…) Given the importance of these recommendations for the prevention of corruption among parliamentarians, more determined action is required to be implemented,” said GRECO in its report.
GRECO acknowledges that some measures have been taken in Romania and that promising initiatives are underway which have the potential to rectify many of the pending shortcomings.
A draft status of Romanian magistrates, which GRECO describes as “promising” is underway and currently undergoing public consultation. It envisages a more transparent procedure and more objective evaluation criteria for the appointment of prosecutors to the most senior posts, and also deals with judiciary liability.
The report notes that a stronger role for the Supreme Council of the Magistracy (SCM) in this process is still required and that the involvement of the Minister of Justice in the appointment or revocation of the most senior prosecutors should be diminished in order to provide for judicial independence.
GRECO has requested that the Romanian authorities should provide an update on measures taken to implement the pending recommendations by March 31, 2022, at the latest.
Romania and Bulgaria remain under the supervision of the European Commission’s Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), used by the Commission since 2007 to assess both countries in the areas of judicial reform, the fight against corruption, and in the case of Bulgaria – organised crime.
Neither country will be admitted to the Schengen area that allows for borderless, passport-free travel for member states until the CVM is lifted.