EU vice president calls on Romania to respect democracy, rule of law

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European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans
European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans

Bucharest – European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans on Tuesday renewed calls on Romania to respect democracy and the Rule of Law after its government pushed through controversial reforms to the judiciary.

Timmermans made the remarks in Bucharest at the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, which was awarding him a honourary doctorate.

“If the Rule of Law is put under threat, if the media are curtailed in their free reporting, if democracy is reinterpreted as the winner takes it all, then almost automatically corruption increases,’’ Timmermans said.

In recent months, the European Commission has criticised Romania, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, for backsliding on commitments to uphold judicial independence and tackle corruption.

Timmermans was afterwards planning to discuss with Social Democratic Prime Minister Viorica Dancila the fight against corruption, in which he said there had been “no progress’’ in Romania.

On Tuesday, he is set to hold informal talks with the EU ministers for European affairs.

A decree, passed February by Dancila’s cabinet, changed the procedure of appointing magistrates.

It also limits the power of the chief state prosecutor who has opposed the justice reform that the government pushed through in spite of criticism from the EU.

The reforms have been criticised as they weaken the country’s anti-corruption agency, the DNA, which has led a broad crackdown on corrupt officials.

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