De Jong demands action on new Romanian corruption law

17 December 2013

De Jong demands action on new Romanian corruption law

Last week, the Romanian Parliament voted to approve a legislative proposal to exclude politicians and lawyers from prosecution for corruption. Although Romanian President Traian Băsescu rejected the proposed law, it is the Parliament rather than the president which has the last word. The SP is demanding action from both the European Commission and the European Council, the body which directly represents the member states. ‘Yesterday Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding was still avoiding answering my oral questions,’ says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong. ‘She referred to the periodic report on Romania’s progress in relation to justice and the law which the Commission will bring out in January. We really can’t wait for that. I have now put urgent written questions in order to get them to meet immediately with the Romanian government regarding the situation which has arisen. The subject must also be discussed at the European Council, so that the Romanian Parliament will see that this won’t be without consequences for cooperation with Romania in the area of justice.’

Dennis de JongCommissioner Reding made it clear, in answer to criticism of the opening of the labour market to Romanians and Bulgarians due to be effected on 1st January, 2014, that freedom of movement within the EU cannot be restricted, but that she believed that by means of improved enforcement, exploitation could be combatted. ´How can you cooperate now with bodies responsible for enforcement in Romania if corruption is not punishable in law?’ asks De Jong. ’It’s precisely corruption within the Romanian authorities that makes judicial cooperation so difficult. That’s now only been made worse. If Reding won’t take action herself against the new law, she should at least be able to see a reason in this to postpone allowing Romania to institute the free movement of workers.’ In the SP’s view there can be absolutely no question of the abolition of border controls. ‘We already had little faith in Romania’s legal authorities, but this has now been reduced to a minimum,` says De Jong.

De Jong has long been concerned about the failing approach to corruption in the European Union. More than a week ago he joined anti-corruption NGO Transparency International in criticising the delay to the European Commission’s long-awaited first report on the matter. ´It’s extremely worrying that just at a time when there is in the member states every reason to make tackling corruption top priority, the Commission is dawdling over the publication of its report,’ says De Jong. ‘Internal bickering has meant that it will now come out at least two months later than foreseen, despite the fact that the report was requested by the European Parliament for receipt in 2011. Now it will probably come too late for the Parliament to be able to deal with it – an opportunity missed.’

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