Brussels says it will continue keeping tabs on Romania over corruption – “despite scores of MPs, mayors and magistrates being put on trial for graft in recent years”.
EU chiefs have praised Bucharest for starting to root out the problem, but say more reform is needed to ensure progress made is not reversible.
It comes with corruption already firmly back on the agenda in Romania.
Thousands of people have protested in the last week over the new government’s plans to decriminalise certain offences, a move critics say could harm efforts to stamp out high-level corruption.
But in a report covering the progress made over the last year, the European Commission says Romania is close to freeing itself of Brussels oversight, which has been in place over the country’s decade-long membership of the EU.
It does, however, issue a warning around the current controversy engulfing the country: “Corruption laws must apply equally to all and be applied at all levels. Clearly legal amendments with the effect of weakening or shrinking the scope of corruption as an offence, or which represented a major challenge to the independence or effectiveness of DNA, would entail a reassessment of the progress made.”
The report also recommends Romania improve independence and transparency around the appointing of top prosecutors and ensure mutual respect between politicians and the judiciary.
A EC-commissioned survey in October last year revealed 79 percent of Romanians questioned thought corruption was a ‘very important’, up from 78 percent two years ago.