Romanian PM clashes with Commission over rule of law
Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă clashed Wednesday with a senior European commissioner over the rule of law in her country, as Brussels accused Bucharest of “moving backwards” and threatened to take action.
In a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Frans Timmermans, the Commission’s first vice president, cited “growing concerns” about changes to Romania’s justice system and criminal code that could threaten the independence of the judiciary and the fight against corruption.
Timmermans’ comments reflect a view within the Commission and among Western European governments that Bucharest is heading down the same path of democratic backsliding as Poland and Hungary. Those countries have dismissed the criticism leveled against them, accusing Brussels of unjustified meddling in their domestic affairs.
“Things are now moving backwards in a way that would be damaging for the place that Romania has built as an EU member state in recent years,” Timmermans said. “If the European Commission needs to be brutal in our assessment, we will be. If we need to use other instruments, we will.”
Among Brussels’ biggest concerns about Romania is the dismissal earlier this year of Laura Codruța Kövesi, the chief anti-corruption prosecutor, whose office has secured many high-profile convictions of politicians. The fight over the anti-corruption office has become an international battle, with Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, paid to produce a report that accuses the agency of “excesses.”