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BREAKING NEWS

EU says Romania must avoid stepping back from fighting corruption

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission criticised on Tuesday Romania's plans for an amnesty for corrupt politicians, calling it a step backwards in fighting graft.

Romania's justice minister has drafted an emergency decree that allows politicians and others convicted of graft since 2014 in one of the European Union's most corrupt countries to challenge the verdicts handed down by the supreme court.

The measure would benefit several high-level politicians, including Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the ruling Social Democrat Party, who was ruled out from being prime minister by a 2015 suspended jail term in a vote-rigging case.

"We are following closely the discussion in Romania on a possible emergency ordinance on extraordinary appeals for criminal cases which we understand comes following the recent constitutional court rulings," Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.

"It is essential for Romania to get back on track in the fight against corruption to ensure an independent judiciary and to avoid any further step back," he said.

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski and Claire Roth)

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