Friday

26th Feb 2021

Romania MPs too soft on corruption, says report

Romania's lack of legislative transparency and working code of conduct rules among its 568 lawmakers continue to feed into high perceptions of corruption.

A report published on Thursday (22 January) by the Council of Europe, the Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, found the Romanian parliament had also made numerous attempts to undermine the country's independent national integrity agency and the national anti-corruption directorate.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Romania's national integrity agency has, since 2008, opened 190 cases against Romanian lawmakers (Photo: Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Romania's parliament was mulling 180 amendments on criminal legislation as of last summer. Many of those amendments, if adopted, "would undermine directly the anti-corruption system", notes the report.

The move follows a controversial but failed attempt in December 2013 to pass wide-reaching immunity laws that would exclude deputies and senators from provisions on bribery, trading in influence, conflicts of interest and so on.

Their immunity amendments were declared unconstitutional a month later. But such antics mean perceptions of corruption within Romania rank as among the highest in Europe.

A February 2014 Eurobarometer poll found that 93 percent of respondents believed corruption was widespread. And some 28 percent have been asked or expected to pay a bribe.

Behind closed doors

Last November, Romania's prime minister, Victor Ponta, resigned following a deadly night club fire in Bucharest.

At the time, he was, as Romania's first sitting PM, on trial for corruption and faced allegations of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.

Public scrutiny of the legislative process is also difficult.

The report notes, for instance, that some plenary debates are held behind closed doors and that draft proposals are withheld from the public for up to a week.

Lawmakers are also in the habit "of the excessive use of emergency proceedings" to rush through texts at the cost of thorough consultation and debate.

It noted cases where an amendment was both introduced and adopted the same day.

Rules on revolving doors, where a deputy after his term lands a job with a company in the same area he legislated on, are also missing.

The national integrity agency, which has looked into some 190 cases of abuse since 2008, said 21 deputies and one senator had hired their own relatives, a breach of criminal and administrative rules.

The report also found over half million euros of "unjustified wealth" in three cases involving two deputies and one senator.

Twenty-four criminal investigations were launched against deputies between 2012 and 2014. Sixteen were sent to jail, mostly without probation.

Some improvements noted

Thorbjorn Jagland, the Council of Europe's secretary general, said that Romania had made some improvements against corruption but could do more.

"It now needs to develop a more robust and effective system of prevention which would address problematic situations even before they turn into a criminal conduct," he said in a statement.

He noted steps had been taken to investigate corruption and prosecute.

Other improvements include Romania's system for the declaration of income, assets and interests.

Supervised by the national integrity agency, the system oversees the declarations of deputies, judges and prosecutors.

The report notes the system has evolved over the years into a fully-fledged declaration system that extends to spouse and first degree relatives like children.

"It could inspire other countries," says the report.

Romanian PM under fire on corruption charges

Members of the lower house of the Romanian parliament have voted against lifting the immunity of prime minister Victor Ponta, who has been accused of forgery, tax evasion, and money laundering.

Investigation

Political failure inflames eastern EU's uranium problem

Attempts by eastern EU states to deal with the devastating legacy of Soviet-era uranium mining are undermined by a toxic mix of domestic disorganisation, international apathy and lack of funds. Second part of our investigation

Romanian social democrats set for return to power

The party, which was forced out only a year ago amid widespread claims of corruption, emerged as the winner in Sunday's general election after campaigning to reduce taxes and increase social spending.

Investigation

Soviet uranium legacy blights eastern EU

Widespread mining of uranium has left a legacy of environmental destruction and health problems that Romania and the Czech Republic are still struggling to deal with.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders restate defence 'autonomy' plan
  2. Rights group exposes Ethiopia massacre
  3. US carried out airstrikes against Iran-backed militia in Syria
  4. Malta closes investigation into journalist murder
  5. Dutch parliament calls China treatment of Uighurs genocide
  6. Spain fined €15m by ECJ over data failures
  7. Belarus: Anti-government protester jailed for 10 years
  8. German charged with spying for Russia in Bundestag

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Armenia 'coup' shows waning of EU star in South Caucasus
  2. 'Difficult weeks' ahead, as variants spread across EU
  3. EU top court advised to strike down Hungary's asylum policy
  4. Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency
  5. Is EU poised to solve child labour in 'green' batteries?
  6. The trap of spreading ideas while attacking them
  7. Who are the EU's new Russian deplorables?
  8. Afghan asylum family beaten in Greece, set adrift at sea

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us