Monday

21st Aug 2017

Thousands protest as Romania scraps anti-corruption rules

  • More than 10,000 people gathered in front of the government's headquarter to protest against the easing of anti-corruption rules. (Photo: Paul Arne Wagner)

Protests erupted in Bucharest on Tuesday (31 January) evening after Romania's left-wing government scrapped some anti-corruption rules, in a move likely to allow leading politicians to avoid criminal persecution.

The cabinet of social democrat Sorin Grindeanu had convened to approve the 2017 budget, but later passed an emergency measure to decriminalise some offences. Abuse of power will no longer be prosecuted if it is deemed to have caused financial damage of less than €44,000.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The bill was only made public after the meeting.

Changes will enter into force within 10 days, without need for approval by the parliament.

Crowds gathered in Bucharest and other cities across Romania after news of the meeting broke.

Some 10,000 people gathered outside the government's headquarters, calling the government "thieves" and "traitors" and imploring the cabinet to resign.

Social democrats and liberals came to power in December in a landslide victory, promising higher wages and pensions.

They say the criminal code must be amended because of recent constitutional court rulings.

Reform to reduce the sentences of some non-violent crimes would ease prison overcrowding, they argue.

Justice minister Florin Iordache said on Tuesday that Romania would otherwise risk breaking the European Convention on Human Rights.

But critics say the measure will clear several leading politicians who are under investigation or on trial in abuse-of-power cases.

Those include social democratic party chief and lower house speaker Liviu Dragnea, who is serving a suspended jail sentence for electoral fraud in 2012.

The conviction has barred him from becoming, as Romania's centre-right president Klaus Iohannis said he would refuse to swear in anyone with a criminal record.

On Tuesday, Iohannis announced "a day of mourning for the rule of law".

"The government ignored the dream of millions of Romanians who want live in a country free of corruption," he posted on Facebook.

Laura Codruta Kovesi, the chief prosecutor at Romania's National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA), said she had only seen a draft of the bill, but its contents would render the fight against corruption in Romania "irrelevant".

Kovesi's DNA has spearheaded efforts to stamp out abuse. During the last three years, prosecutors indicted nearly 2,000 people in cases involving abuse of power that have caused damages totalling up to €1 billion.

But the European Commission said last week Romania was still lagging on the fight against corruption.

It said the main test for Romania was to put in place internal guarantees that the reforms which were passed so far were made “irreversible”.

'Killer robots' are not about Terminator

A European signatory of an open letter about autonomous weapons says the imagery of fictional killer robots is distracting from a seriously dangerous issue.

Opinion

Macron goes east to test appetites for EU integration

The next few months will be decisive in selecting who stays in the core of the EU and who stays behind, writes Tomas Prouza, a former state secretary for European Affairs of the Czech Republic.

'I thought I was safe in Europe'

Arrest of Turkish dissident has again highlighted the way rogue regimes use Interpol to hunt their enemies inside the EU.

Opinion

Macron goes east to test appetites for EU integration

The next few months will be decisive in selecting who stays in the core of the EU and who stays behind, writes Tomas Prouza, a former state secretary for European Affairs of the Czech Republic.

News in Brief

  1. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  2. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  3. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  4. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week
  5. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  6. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  7. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  8. European Union returns to 2 percent growth

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference