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EU Commission's Timmermans encourages Romania in anti-corruption drive

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By Alasdair Sandford
EU Commission's Timmermans encourages Romania in anti-corruption drive

There were encouraging words for Romania from the European Commission’s First Vice President during his visit to Bucharest on Thursday.

Frans Timmermans said the EU’s poorest country was approaching the end of its decade-long anti-corruption monitoring programme.

He encouraged Romania’s parliament to support the government’s efforts to reach the objectives of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) set up at the time of the country’s accession to the European Union in 2007. Judicial reform and corruption were listed as Romania’s biggest challenges by the Commission in the year before it joined the EU.

There’s still no time frame for a decision for exiting the CVM and Romania is due to take over the rotating EU presidency at the start of 2019.

“In this process we’ve jointly did since membership, 10 years of cooperation and verification, we’ve achieved so much that we are now in the final, final stretch of a very long marathon and my impulse, my dedication is to finishing this marathon,” Timmermans said.

Romania has received four positive monitoring reports from the EU in a row.

The news represents a turnaround from February, when the government’s attempts to pass a decree decriminalising all but the more serious corruption offences brought an estimated half a million people onto the streets for six nights.

The government dropped its legislation, although this week the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body (GRECO) said it was concerned over the use of emergency procedures to amend legislation.