MEPs Warn Romania to Steer Clear of Poland, Hungary’s Bad Example on Judicial Reform
Romania has been criticized sharply by Members of the European Parliament over its controversial judicial reform and disregard for the rule of law, and has been warned not to take after Poland and Hungary on the matter.
Romania’s center – left ruling coalition has been faced with mass street protests since 2017 over its seeming attempts to roll back progress made on fighting corruption.
Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila was roasted by MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday for eroding domestic democratic standards.
“This is a European issue,” Esteban Gonzalez Pons, a Spanish member of the 28-nation Parliament’s Christian Democrats, said in a debate with Dancila in the Strasbourg, France-based assembly, as cited by Bloomberg.
“Listen to the people’s voice, Madame prime minister. They just want integrity, transparency and justice,” he added.
“Romanians fought against communism for their liberties. They tore down a tyranny and built a democracy. Such brave and noble efforts should not be undermined,” he insisted.
“Don’t follow the bad Hungarian and Polish examples,” Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian leader of the EU Parliament’s Liberals, told Dancila.
“The independence of the courts must be guaranteed, not undermined,” Verhofstadt urged.
Romania’s center – left ruling coalition, whose leader Liviu Dragnea cannot become Prime Minister because he has two criminal convictions, has been easing punishments for corrupt officials.
During the debate in Strasbourg, Romania got a warning from the EU executive, the European Commission, as well.
“We are following the latest developments in Romania with concern,” said Frans Timmermans, a Dutch Socialist who is Vice President of the European Commission.
“The independence of Romania’s judicial system and its capacity to fight corruption effectively are essential cornerstones of a strong Romania in the European Union. We have seen substantial progress in the past, but things are now moving backward,” Timmermans added.
In her remarks to the EU Parliament, Dancila defended her government’s rule-of-law record.
“Romania is a pro-EU country and please rest assured that it will not stray from its European path,” Dancila said.
“Do not deny Romania things that are permitted to other member states of the Union and do not allow that in Romania, things should happen that are unacceptable in other member states,” she told European Parliament.
“We want to be a partner but we want to be equal partners. No one never will be able to turn Romania back from its European road,” Dancila said.
The center-right European People’s Party (EPP), the largest in the European Parliament, joined in the criticism.
(Banner image: European Parliament on Twitter).