The Sofia Echo
For the first time in years the European Commission's interim report on Romania's fight against crime and corruption is harsher than the one delivered on Bulgaria. Reports on the two countries were released on February 12 2009. While the report on Bulgaria demands more concrete results, Romania's states that "the pace of progress noted in the Commission's report of July 2008 has not been maintained". Although there have been some positive signals in judicial reform, "results are difficult to demonstrate", the report said.
It noted that "although the Constitutional Court has recently rejected amendments to the Penal Procedure Code, which would severely restrict the rights of the prosecution, the legal situation remains unresolved and ambiguous. Some investigations of high level cases remain blocked by the Romanian parliament. In addition, in terms of access to jurisprudence, the accountability of magistrates and shortcomings in the judiciary's staffing and management, we are still awaiting significant improvement".
In most other areas, shortcomings identified by the EC in July have remained, the report said. "It is important that the Romanian authorities regain their momentum on judicial reform and the fight against corruption so as to reverse certain backward movements of recent months".
It notes that the Romanian government has finalised draft amendments to the civil code, a draft of the criminal code and drafts of the criminal and civil procedures codes, "but they still need to be adopted".
The next assessment of progress by the EC in the summer will show how successful Romania has been in addressing shortcomings in its judicial reforms and whether it has produced convincing and tangible results in the fight against corruption.
It will be crucial for Romania to achieve significant, irreversible progress by then.
The report on Romania can be found at the EC website.