Romania has achieved very little progress in fight against corruption in state institutions in 2017, and fears about the lack of transparency in the legal process remain, according to a new report by the the GRECO – the Council of Europe anti-corruption body.
The Transparency International assesses Romania as one of the most corrupt countries in the European Union, and Brussels put its legal system under special monitoring, although it praised its magistrates for their efforts to eradicate high-level corruption. According to the report, Romania has fully implemented 2 of GRECO’s 13 recommendations made an year ago. These include creating a more transparent legal process, introducing more stringent criteria for legislators to prevent conflicts of interest and clarifying the conditions of their immunity.
“The legislative process remains a matter of particular concern to GRECO, given the ongoing disputes and accusations of misconduct, the excessive use of accelerated procedures and the lack of transparency”, says the report.
In December the ruling Social Democrats and the smaller coalition partner used their absolute majority to adopt a judicial reform that, according to its critics, would limit the independence of the judiciary. The reform was criticized by the European Commission, the State Department of the United States, diplomats and the country’s president, and led to massive civil protests.
The Social Democrats also proposed new amendments to the criminal code, which will decriminalize several crimes related to corruption. This is their second year’s experience of weakening the purge against corruption. The debate on change will begin when parliament meets in February.
The Romanian Anti-Corruption Unit has filed lawsuits against 72 members of parliament since 2006.
In March, GRECO will discuss the judicial reforms in Romania, which are currently waiting for a ruling by the Constitutional Court.