Tuesday

15th Oct 2019

Romanian government hit by corruption cases

Romania's deputy Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea on Monday (7 October) was charged with electoral fraud and economy minister Varujan Vosganian resigned over a disputed natural gas deal - the latest in a series of high-level corruption cases.

Anti-corruption prosecutors charged Dragnea with "use of influence and authority" within the Social Democratic Party "in order to obtain undue electoral advantages" when a referendum was called last year on impeaching President Traian Basescu.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The vote was 87 percent in favour of the impeachment, but was invalidated by the Supreme Court as it failed to gather the minimum turnout.

Dragnea's role, according to prosecutors, was to "coordinate a complex mechanism aimed at altering the referendum turnout." He called on local party leaders to "do their best and break the law if needed" to secure the minimum turnout.

Over 70 other people, including local party leaders and polling office officials, are also charged with electoral fraud.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta claims the prosecution is politically motivated and accused the prosecutor in charge of the file of taking orders from Basescu. The prosecutor was removed from office hours after he finished the case.

Ponta, however, accepted the resignation of a Liberal minister and former EU commissioner candidate, Varujan Vosganian, who was charged with "plotting against the national economy" when he negotiated a special gas price for a company that was highly indebted.

Vosganian remains free for now, as the Senate on Monday refused to lift his parliamentary immunity.

Last summer, the European Commission, the German government and the US ambassador in Bucharest strongly criticised the moves to impeach Basescu, especially the pressure on Supreme Court judges who had to validate or reject the result of the referendum.

Concern about the independence of the justice system in high-level corruption cases remains one of the key issues in a special monitoring system - the so-called cooperation and verification mechanism - that the EU has in place for both Romania and Bulgaria.

A series of other politicians, including MEPs, have been on trial and some sentenced to jail on corruption charges in the past few months.

Among them is Adrian Severin, the MEP who was exposed two years ago by the Sunday Times as accepting bribes from journalists posing as lobbyists. His trial started in September.

Belgium's EU nominee still embroiled in legal feud

Cache of 18 secret documents and allegations of death threats in fresh legal complaint surrounding Belgium's EU nominee, Didier Reynders, shortly after a low-level prosecutor cleared his name.

EU sides with Google in data protection case

The European Commission suggests the French data protection watchdog overstretched its remit to make Google delist names on a global scale from search query results, as part of the 'right to be forgotten' rule in the EU's data protection regulation.

News in Brief

  1. OSCE: Polish elections spoiled by 'homophobic rhetoric'
  2. Barcelona airport clashes after Catalan leaders jailed
  3. US: Erdogan responsible for possible Isis 'resurgence'
  4. Irish foreign minister: Brexit deal 'possible this week'
  5. UK refuses to join EU arms ban on Turkey
  6. Denmark plans to strip foreign fighters of citizenship
  7. Spain issues European arrest warrant for Puigdemont
  8. Possible delay to launch of new EU commission

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us