Potential changes to Romanian legal code cause international unease

Proposed "emergency" changes to the Romanian legal code have been criticized by the European Commission, the United States, Germany, France and nine other countries, in a statement citing the risk of weakening the country's fight against corruption.

Editorial Team
Jessica Sirotin NewsMavens, Europe
Potential changes to Romanian legal code cause international unease - NewsMavens
Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The Romanian Social Democrat-led government announced that it is set to to change the country's legal code through an emergency measure, which has been criticized as giving an inappropriate level of assistance to politicians accused of corruption.

A joint statement by 12 allies of Romania was issued in response to the planned change: "To the contrary, the cumulative effect of these modifications carries the risk of slowing the fight against corruption and undermining judicial independence," it added.

What worries the international community in particular are the amendment that would shorten the statute of limitations for multiple offenses. This could result in the dismissal of several ongoing corruption cases involving several Romanian politicians, including Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea.

Romania's government has claimed that the changes are necessary to reflect a recent constitutional court decision and that the international community is overreacting, as the changes are quite transparent.

European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans stated that if the changes take place, that action from the EU would be swift and would utilize "any means at its disposal".

Details from the story:

  • The joint warning by the 12 countries -- Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United States, is unusual as they are generally considered close allies of Romania.
  • In their joint statement they also said: "We are deeply concerned about the integrity of Romania’s justice system, which has been buffeted by unpredictable modifications that do not further Romania’s efforts to consolidate judicial progress."
  • Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă has stated that she has requested meetings with the ambassadors of the 12 countries on this issue but that she had been rebuffed.
  • Corruption remains a concern in this country, especially after the dismissal of the internationally well-regarded Laura Codruta Kövesi and the corruption charges the government has now levied against her.
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