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EC's Vera Jourova: The Special Section for the Investigation of Magistrates " has a negative impact on the independence of the function and efficiency of justice"

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Observance of the rule of law is a key-element for a successful approach by Member States within the European Union, Vera Jourova, Vice-President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Values and Transparency, said on Wednesday at a debate on the Rule of Law Report 2020, with a view to the adoption by the European Commission of the second report on this issue, in the coming months.

The European official thus stressed the importance of respecting the rules of democracy and the rule of law, which are essential in the Member States for the proper functioning of the Union.

This framework allows us to be fully aware of the situation of the rule of law throughout the Union. (...) The emergence of problems or their deepening allows Member States to deal with them as quickly as possible, if they arise. Such a report was adopted last September. This is a summary of important elements related to the rule of law in the Union since January 2019 and has specific assessments for the 27 member countries. We have evaluated the positive and negative elements and have drawn attention to problems that arise or worsen and have highlighted good practices. But it is not just this report when it comes to the rule of law, the European Commissioner said.

Vera Jourova advocated in-depth dialogue through open debates and exchanges of best practices.

The involvement of Member States and national institutes responsible for the observance of the rule of law, such as parliaments, is a key element for this approach to be successful. (...) After the adoption of this report we have taken it to a new level. (...) We want further dialogue with governments, with national parliaments (...), to find solutions together with the Member States, the EU official added.

Vera Jourova pointed out that there are currently similar recommendations to previous years, including the independence of justice, referring to the elimination of the Special Section for the Investigation of Magistrates, "which has a negative impact on the independence of the function and efficiency of justice", an update of the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, the continuation of the fight against corruption, as well as the defence of freedom and pluralism of the press, considering that "there should be no policy of pressure on the media".

The European Commissioner also said that Romania could conclude the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism on justice, if it applied all the recommendations of the European Commission.

I trust and will give full support to the Government to carry out the reforms on the field of justice and the Criminal Code," said Vera Jourova, who also advocated a legislative consensus in Parliament.

 

Romania remains deeply attached to the rule of law as a fundamental value of the European project and acts in full compliance with the principles of the rule of law, Senate President Anca Dragu said on Wednesday.

Dragu conveyed, at the video conference with the Vice President of the European Commission, Vera Jourova, that the Romanian Parliament will act to fulfill the commitments of our country assumed in the context of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.

"I welcome the publication by the European Commission of the first report on the rule of law. Compliance with these principles governing the rule of law is an essential issue for the Member States of the European Union, being a sine qua non for the proper and efficient functioning of democracy in the Member States. This is a difficult time for Europe and some Member States face challenges in respect to the rule of law, and the Commission's report is a valuable prevention instrument. We believe that the implementation of the new mechanism at a general European level has a preventive role, aimed at the early identification of developments on the rule of law, allowing the reflection of both the general situation at Union level and the way in which each Member State is included in the general European picture," Dragu said.

She appreciated that it is essential to promote the exchange of national experience and good practices in the process of identifying solutions to the problems faced by the Member States.

 

Romania is on the right track regarding respect of the rule of law, and the coalition Government has a very clear zero tolerance position towards corruption, said, on Wednesday, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, liberal Ludovic Orban, during the video-conference with the deputy president of the European Commission, Vera Jourova.

"I would like to assure you that Romania is on the right track as regards the observance of the rule of law, towards the independence of justice and is on the right track, since May 2019, when the Romanian citizens massively voted, with a majority of over 65%, the referendum for justice initiated by president Klaus Iohannis", Orban said.

He said that in November 2019 a change of Government took place and a "change of attitude towards the problematic in Justice, the observance of the fundamental rights and liberties, the independence of Justice, to the free access to the act of justice, towards the balance and separation of the state powers".

The Chamber of Deputies' Speaker also said that following the elections of 2020, there was a coalition formed, which has in its governing program extremely important objectives in the area of rule of law.

Orban also said that the insecurity regarding the efficiency of the judicial framework regarding the anti-corruption fight, generated by the attempts to modify the penal codes, has disappeared, as a result of Parliament permanently rejecting these proposals.

"We are extremely preoccupied in ensuring, through public and parliamentary debate, a substantial improvement of the legislation and the general framework of organizing and functioning of the entire justice system. Furthermore, I can guarantee that the Government, formed by the government coalition has a clear zero tolerance position towards corruption and supports the entire process of fighting against corruption. We guarantee that Romania, which publicly and politically supported the establishment of this mechanism regarding the rule of law even when there were voices which did not agree with this mechanism, especially with utilizing European funds, we are extremely dedicated in supporting this mechanism as an instrument of guaranteeing the fundamental rights and liberties, not only of the Romanian citizens, but all EU citizens," Orban added.

The event, which took place in a video-conferencing system, was attended by the President of the Senate, Anca Dragu, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Ludovic Orban, as well as representatives of the legal, constitutional and European affairs committees of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

 

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Thursday, March 18, 2021