FOCUS News Agency
Bucharest. Domestic and international critics poured scorn on Romanian lawmakers Wednesday after they unexpectedly voted to exempt MPs and the president from corruption charges while in office.
The executive European Commission, which keeps a close watch on the EU member's drive to rein in corruption, warned that the snap amendments were "obviously something that will be taken up" in its report on the rule of law in Romania next month.
"We have highlighted in previous reports that high public officials... should be covered by corruption and conflict of interest rules," Commission spokesman Mark Gray told journalists.
"A very important principle for us is that all citizens are equal before the law," he added.
The United States said the proposed changes to Romania's criminal code were a step in the wrong direction.
"This move by the parliament is a step away from transparency and rule-of-law and is a discouraging sign for investors, which will negatively affect Romania's economy", the US embassy in Bucharest said in a statement.
Romania's lower-house Chamber of Deputies, where a centre-left coalition holds a two-third majority, adopted the amendments on Tuesday after a secret meeting by the justice committee.
The national anti-graft prosecutor and the magistrates council were not consulted and criticised the changes.