Less than two months before Romania will take over the presidency of the European Union, the European Commission’s progress report on the Romanian justice reform and fight against corruption, published as part of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) has warned that “recent developments have reversed the course of progress and called into question the positive assessment made back in January 2017.”
European Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans stated:
I regret that Romania has not only stalled its reform process, but also re-opened and backtracked on issues where progress was made over the past 10 years. It is essential that Romania gets back on track immediately in the fight against corruption and also ensures an independent judiciary. This is the only way how Romania can resume its path towards the conclusion of the CVM process, in the interest of its citizens, its country, and the EU as a whole.
The European Commission notes several amendments to justice laws and the pressure on the independent anti-corruption prosecutor as worrying trends. Last year, these developments already led to massive street protests in Romania.
Although the Romanian situation is certainly different from Albania’s – if only because Romania is an EU member and Albania is not – the difficulties of the justice reform there, and the real risk of backsliding at the moment that EU pressure loosens, should be a clear warning for the Albanian justice reform.