TI Romania welcomes the conclusions of the European Commission Monitoring Report on Romania, released today, the 23rd of July 2008, and cautions that the delay of the safeguard clause and the lack of financial sanctions does not absolve Romania from fulfilling the obligations undertaken upon joining the EU, particularly since the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism is to be maintained for another year.
TI Romania considers that the tone of the Report and maintaining the pressure on Romania in order to enable substantial progress in the fight against corruption are fully reasonable and should be seriously considered by officials in Bucharest, mainly in view of the possibility that sanctions could be applied in Romania’s case next year, just as it is the case with Bulgaria this year.
During the reporting period, the actions undertaken for the application of the EU imposed benchmarks had a predominantly formal character and although the laws and necessary decisions have been adopted, there are deficiencies in their actual implementation, consequently still waiting for a clear end-result. At the same time during the reporting period the tendency of using the fight against corruption in political conflicts between parties has been noted, which severely endangers the credibility and support for these reforms.
Transparency International Romania considers that for the successful fulfilment of the commitments assumed at the time of accession to the EU, corruption reforms must be based on technical expertise and the implementation process should be supported by strong political will.
TI Romania believes that, in order to have concrete results in the fight against corruption, it is necessary that efforts to increase integrity in the judiciary, business, education, health, infrastructure, and the financing of the political parties, the use of structural funds, be undertaken along with the measures aimed at accomplishing the benchmarks.
Transparency International Romania considers that there is a legislative framework sufficient to prevent, combat and sanction corruption. However, legal provisions must be concretely, continuously and coherently applied. The mere fact of publication of such provisions in the Official Monitor is not sufficient as long as no public entity takes them into account. The enforcement of the law should be an obligation taken on and respected by all public authorities as well as the public sector: officials, public servants, magistrates and contractors.
Our organisation draws attention to the fact that disciplinary jurisdictions are completely inefficient and do not create the necessary pressure to enforce and respect the law. People are discontent with the conduct of public clerks, nevertheless disciplinary sanctions are entirely lacking. Despite the fact that Romania is the member state with most convictions at CEDO, the magistrates are not held accountable for judicial errors. Even if investigations in high corruption cases are presented as public successes, clear results fail to emerge.
In conclusion, Transparency International Romania draws attention to the fact that the prevention of the activation of EU sanctions against Romania can only be done by taking the fight against corruption out of a political context, by strengthening the means of coercion in the enforcement of the specific legislation, by increasing the efficiency of administrative prevention and combating mechanisms before corruption is manifest, and by increasing the efficiency of the sanctioning mechanisms once corruption crimes have been committed, through dissuasive convictions.
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Executive Director, Transparency International Romania
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