Friday

26th May 2017

Romanian minister resigns amid huge anti-corruption protests

  • Street protester in Bucharest. (Photo: Paul Arne Wagner)

Florin Jianu, the minister of business and entrepreneurship in Romania, resigned early on Thursday (2 February) as protests against the government's move to decriminalise corruption grew into the country's largest since the fall of communism.

In a surprise manoeuvre on Tuesday night, the left-liberal government passed an emergency ordinance to say that abuse of office will be prosecuted only if it causes damages of at least €44,000. Critics say the measure would clear the social-democratic party chairman, Liviu Dragnea, who is serving a suspended prison sentence for trying to rig an election in 2012

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The measure is one of the first bills the social-democrats and liberals, their junior coalition partner, have passed since taking power last month, and was supposedly a way to alleviate overcrowding in prisons.

Jianu said he was leaving his post after only 28 days in the job because of his child.

"Years from now, when I will look him in the eyes, I won't have to tell him his father was a coward," the ex-minister wrote on his Facebook page, adding: "Romania doesn't deserve what is happening now".

At least 150,000 people flooded the streets of Bucharest on Wednesday, despite freezing temperatures.

They only dispersed when violent football fans called ultras arrived with fireworks, stones and other makeshift weapons.

The police responded with tear gas, and people were told to leave the place peacefully.

Four policemen and two demonstrators were injured and 20 rioters were arrested.

Opposition media said the ultras were paid for by the government in a bid to discredit the protests.

Police issued a request on Facebook asking people to help them identify the provocateurs.

Demonstrations also took place in other cities in Romania, as well as outside Romania's permanent representation to the EU in Brussels.

"Nobody should get a get-out-of-jail-free card, and the way it was done is particularly disturbing. The government passed this law without a proper debate, late at night, when nobody was paying attention," Daniela Cuciureanu, a lobbyist, told EUobserver in Brussels.

"But we see that people do care. This is not how you legislate in a country that has been an EU member for 10 years," she added.

Another protest will be held in Brussels on Friday at lunchtime.

Former justice minister, conservative MEP Monica Macovei, told EUobserver in a written statement: "The Romanian people will fight against this effort to subvert our anticorruption fight, and we ask the European Commission to start asking some serious questions about whether this ordinance is in keeping with the commitments that Romania has made to move forward, and not back, in the anticorruption fight."

Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and first vice-president Frans Timmermans issued an official warning on Wednesday, saying they were greatly concerned that the fight against corruption "needs to be advanced, not undone".

"The commission warns against backtracking and will look thoroughly at the emergency ordinance on the Criminal Code and the Law on Pardons in this light," they said in a statement.

The European Parliament called a last-minute debate on Romania on Thursday morning. According to sources, the socialist and liberal groups welcomed the debate, rather than backing the government in Bucharest.

EU commission drops anti-corruption report

Transparency campaigners are livid after the EU commission scuppered plans to publish an EU anti-corruption report amid unfolding corruption scandals in Romania and France.

Opinion

Romania, the endless anti-corruption race

Romanians take to the streets in anti-government protests due to a proposed amendment to the country's anti-corruption legislation. But will this have any effect?

Column / Brexit Briefing

Ukip's last electoral stand

Nigel Farage's anti-EU party is unlikely to win any seats at the 8 June elections. After the loss of his charismatic leadership, the party is just a rag-tag of third raters.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Ukip's last electoral stand

Nigel Farage's anti-EU party is unlikely to win any seats at the 8 June elections. After the loss of his charismatic leadership, the party is just a rag-tag of third raters.

EUobserved

Scramble for UK agencies paves way for Trumpian claims

The Spanish health minister this week bragged that Barcelona was “the best city”, had “the best building”, and “the best infrastructure” to host the EU's medicines agency post-Brexit.

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms