Rule of law: Romania must catch up, says ECJ
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg has warned Romania not to undermine progress made in the area of the rule of law. The ECJ's judges have concluded in several rulings that judicial reforms carried out between 2017 and 2019 at least convey the impression of putting political pressure on Romanian judges. The Romanian press voices approval.
Ordered to take action
The decision is significant in several respects, writes the Romanian service of Deutsche Welle:
“The European Court of Justice insists on guarantees that judges need if they are to be truly independent. Romania needs a serious debate on this issue after the country already experimented with more or less questionable formula. One was the so-called Special Prosecution Unit [for investigations against members of the judiciary], which not only functioned abusively but was also extremely inefficient, bringing not even ten cases to court over two years. The ECJ's decision is very important, also because it makes it mandatory to implement the measures agreed upon when the country joined the EU.”
If you want EU funds then stick to the rules
Compliance with ECJ rulings also has an economic impact, notes Horațius Dumbravă, an administrative judge in Târgu Mureș, in republica.ro:
“The simple statement that the Romanian authorities want to fix the 'judicial reforms' of 2017-2019 is not enough - that much is clear. Every year, the EU Commission publishes its report on measures conducive to the rule of law. Since 2020, this can lead to cuts or even the suspension of EU funds that Romania so desperately needs. Ultimately, Romanian citizens are not to blame for the Romanian authorities' lack of resolve in reinstating the rule of law. But these EU funds which flow into Romania's economy should first and foremost benefit Romanian citizens.”