1. EXTRACTS FROM THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION REPORTS ON ROMANIA (2004 – 2006), GRECO COMPLIANCE REPORT (2004) AND GRECO EVALUATION REPORT (2005) ON ROMANIA (PDF) download >>>
2. ANALYSIS ON ROMANIA BASED ON THE EXTRACTS FROM THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION REPORTS (2004 – 2006) AND GRECO COMPLIANCE AND EVALUATION REPORTS (2004, 2005)
In its Progress Report (2004), European Commission stresses that corruption remains a serious and widespread problem in Romania which affects almost all aspects of society, underlining that there is no reduction in perceived levels of corruption and that the number of successful prosecutions remains low, particularly for high level corruption. Finally, it emphasizes that the fight against corruption is hampered by integrity problems even within institutions that are involved in law enforcement and in the fight against corruption, pointing out that Romania’s ability to curb corruption will depend on the effective implementation of the law.
Following year, the Commission repeats its opinion from the previous year. Namely, it stresses that corruption remains a serious and widespread problem that affects many aspects of society, underlining again that there is no significant reduction in perceived levels of corruption. In conclusion, European Commission stresses that number of successful prosecutions remains low, particularly for high-level political corruption, emphasizing that the fight against corruption should receive high priority, and that efforts should focus on the effective enforcement of anti-corruption legislation and on fighting high-level corruption and corruption within law enforcement bodies.
In 2006, the Commission highlights that Romania made progress in fighting corruption, by establishing sound structures and launching investigations into a considerable number of high-level corruption cases. However, it states that Romania needs to continue efforts with a view to consolidating and building on the progress made in its fight against corruption, highlighting that further indictments, trials, final convictions of the guilty and dissuasive sentences in high-level cases are needed to ensure the sustainability and irreversibility of the achieved progress.
Capacities to Fight Corruption and Anticorruption Policies
In 2004, European Commission notes that Romanian anti-corruption legislation is well developed and is broadly in line with relevant EU acquis, however emphasizing that measures contained in the National Corruption Strategy and associated Action Plan have a limited impact and that institutions within the criminal justice system remain affected by corruption. Moreover, the Commission notes that the National Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office should ensure that it remains focused on its core mandate of investigating high-level corruption instead of processing a large number of petty corruption cases. In conclusion, it emphasizes that additional efforts are required to ensure the independence, effectiveness and accountability of the National Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office and that Romania needs to increase its administrative capacity in the relevant institutions, implement an effective reform of the judicial system in order to take measures that have a significant impact on corruption.
European Commission and GRECO, in 2005, greet adoption of the new Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan, underlining that these new documents are clear, well structured and operationally focused with deadlines, benchmarks, guaranteed budgetary resources and clear institutional responsibilities for the various activities and that a high-level inter-Ministerial Council was established to monitor the implementation of the strategy. Moreover, it is pointed out that the old National Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office achieved some success in dealing with cases of corruption, mainly of petty corruption, underlining that, now when it is relocated to the General Prosecutor’s Office and renamed the National Anti-Corruption Department, it will have to demonstrate its ability to fully tackle politically-sensitive cases of high-level corruption in an effective way. Moreover, the Commission stresses, again, that institutions within the criminal justice system remain affected by corruption and that there are weaknesses in enforcing the current legislation which are partly caused by a passive attitude on the part of prosecutors – especially when the suspects are high-level figures and by the lack of experience and training of those prosecuting complex financial cases. In conclusion, the Commission repeats that serious concerns remain about the effective implementation of the existing laws in the fight against corruption, underlining that immediate action is needed to increase Romania’s capacity to fight it effectively and to efficiently prosecute significant high-level corruption cases.
Following year, the Commission states that the implementation of the national Strategy and Action Plan for fighting corruption continued, highlighting that the Parliament approved the law transforming the National Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office into the National Anti-Corruption Directorate and allowing it to investigate all cases of high-level corruption including allegations involving Members of Parliament. Moreover, it is highlighted that it stopped working on petty corruption cases and focused on medium and high-level corruption and that it has the staff, financial resources and training to conduct effective investigations into high-level corruption. Furthermore, the Commission notes that the quantity and quality of non-partisan investigations by the National Anti-Corruption Directorate into allegations of high-level corruption continued to increase, emphasizing that further indictments, criminal trials, convictions and dissuasive sentences need to be pursued in a sustainable manner. In addition, the Commission points out that the anti-corruption laws are implemented more rigorously, although in the Parliament were some attempts to substantially reduce the effectiveness of such efforts, while efforts to fight corruption and improper behaviour within law enforcement agencies have been intensified. In conclusion, it is emphasized that the reforms led by the Ministry of Justice and the National Anti-Corruption Directorate need to be complemented by sustained efforts from all other executive agencies, the legislature and the judiciary, with co-operation between the two specialised prosecution services which needs to be further improved in cases of high-level corruption and organised crime.
International Conventions and Obligations
In 2004, European Commission states that the Council of Europe’s Civil and Criminal Law Conventions on Corruption entered into force and that Romania remains involved in the Stability Pact Anti-corruption Initiative sponsored by the OECD Secretariat, and that it participates in the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption. In conclusion, it is pointed out that Romania is not party to the 1997 OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
Following year, the Commission welcomes entering in the force of the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption. Finally, it is pointed out that Romania remains involved in the Stability Pact Anti-Corruption Initiative and participates in the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption.
In its Progress Report (2004), European Commission and GRECO note that Minister of Justice no longer appoint judges directly or promote magistrates to higher courts and prosecutors’ offices or into management position in the Superior Council. Namely three-law package is intended to improve significantly the independence and effectiveness of the judiciary and the Superior Council will assume full responsibility for the recruitment, career development and sanction of judges and prosecutors, underlining that their implementation on the ground is a matter of priority. However, the Commission points out that official survey found that a majority of judges came under political pressure while exercising their official duties.
Following year, the Commission and GRECO greet Romania’s decisive steps to further reform the judiciary system towards more independence, highlighting that the legal framework offers sufficient guarantees for magistrates’ personal and institutional independence and that the Superior Council of the Magistracy will be responsible for safeguarding judicial independence. In conclusion, it is pointed out that the Anti – Corruption Action Plan focuses heavily on corruption within the judiciary.
In 2006, the Commission stresses, again, that the Superior Council of the Magistracy is responsible for ensuring the independent and effective functioning of the courts, highlighting that Superior Council of the Magistracy’s Action Plan is being implemented on schedule and some measures are taken to introduce objective criteria for the promotion of judges and prosecutors and internal rules are adopted that prevent Council members from voting in disciplinary matters that affects their court or prosecution office in order to prevent conflict of interests. Finally, the Commission points out that the National Anti-Corruption Department indicted five judges, emphasizing that the random allocation of cases to judges continued to function throughout the country which contributed to fighting corruption and enhancing the impartiality of judges and judgments.
Public Administration and Business Environment
In its Progress Report (2004), European Commission greets establishment of a new Anti-Corruption and Professional Standards Directorate within the Ministry of Administration and Interior’s General Directorate of Intelligence and Internal Protection, underlining that the principle of promotion through open competition is established and implementing legislation exists. However, the Commission notes that complex procedures and uncertainty in the application of law by the public administration and the judiciary continued to impede an enabling business environment and that the structural obstacles to investment are corruption, excessive bureaucracy and an unstable legislative climate. Moreover, it is pointed out that the privatisation processes are not fully transparent and that full transparency should be ensured. According to European Commission substantial progress in the functioning of the judiciary and the public administration, including an even and predictable application of law, is required to create an enabling business environment with a level playing field.
The Commission, in its Monitoring Report 2005, greets adoption a Law on the creation of a new anti-corruption structure within the Ministry of Administration and Interior called the Directorate General for Anti-Corruption, highlighting that efforts to enhance the public administration continued. However, European Commission points out that provisions of the public administration strategy on the separation of political and administrative roles, on open recruitment the civil service can not be yet described as apolitical and professional, underlining that, in practice, limited progress can be observed regarding the reform of civil service – including its ability to prevent and resist corruption. Moreover, it notes that the norms for implementing legislation are not always published which tends to provide civil servants and public servants with the power to interpret regulations as they see fit, in particular concerning legal requirements and administrative procedures for licenses and permits creating greater opportunity for bribery and corruption. Furthermore, the Commission points out that, despite some progress, full transparency of the privatization process needs to be continuously ensured. Therefore, GRECO states that anti-corruption strategies and sectoral action plans, accompanied by practical measures and training courses, should be devised – which would also embrace privatization and public contracts. In conclusion, it is pointed out that Romania must obtain immediate tangible results in transforming its administration and ensuring its efficient and transparent functioning in order to combat corruption effectively.
Following year, the Commission notes that the law on the Civil Servants Statute is pending adoption by parliament, highlighting that it clarifies the status, rights and obligations of civil servants, decentralises recruiting procedures to local authorities and to individual ministries and finally it contributes to depoliticising the civil service by making a panel responsible for the appointment of high-level civil servants. However, in conclusion, it is pointed out that corruption remains a concern within the local government and that full transparency of the privatisation process needs to be ensured.
European Commission, in Progress Report (2004), stresses that important derogations from Romanian public procurement legislation raised serious concerns about the Government’s commitment to open and transparent procurement rules. In conclusion, it is pointed out that as a matter of priority, particular attention should be given to the correct enforcement of public procurement rules and to the elimination of inconsistencies with the acquis.
In its Report (2005), the Commission states that public procurement remains an area of serious concern. Namely, legislative alignment needs to be completed and substantial shortcomings remain in the implementation and enforcement of legislation. In conclusion, it repeats that Romania should give attention to fully respect and enforce competitive and transparent public procurement procedures.
Following year, it is pointed out that the National Anti-Corruption Department launched new investigations into long-standing public procurement scandals.
European Commission, in Progress Report (2004), states that the National Office for the Prevention and Control of Money Laundering strengthened its administrative capacity, however underlining that it has to improve its compliance with its legal obligation to train representatives of the reporting institutions.
Next year, it is pointed out that the effectiveness of anti-money laundering defences is seriously hampered by corruption, by organised crime and by the large informal economy. It is underlined that enforcement needs substantial improvement, while GRECO emphasizes that the authorities should explore potential measures that could be taken to improve the situation in relation to reports of suspicious acts to the competent authorities.
In 2006, the Commission repeats that the effectiveness of the fight against money laundering continues to be hampered by corruption, organised crime and the informal economy, underlining that the results are still limited in terms of effective implementation and enforcement, in particular in the areas of awareness, reporting of suspicious transactions and supervision activities.
Conflict of Interests
In 2004, European Commission greets changes to the framework of anti-corruption legislation that decreased the financial threshold for wealth declarations and introduced stricter controls on share and property ownership for those covered by the legislation. However, the Commission underlines that there is room for improvement to make it possible in practice to monitor declarations on conflict of interest, by aligning the conflict of interest legislation with EU best practices, introducing sanctions for incorrect or incomplete declarations of interests, addressing the transfer of assets to relatives and lowering the burden of proof before an investigation can be launched into whether assets were obtained illegally.
European Commission, in Monitoring Report (2005), notes that a number of measures designed to fight high-level corruption entered into force, including the adoption of new templates for wealth declarations which will be accessible to the public. In addition, the Commission and GRECO state that an effective mechanism for overseeing wealth declarations remains to be established, while GRECO emphasizes that there is no authority responsible for supervising legislation on conflicts of interest, despite the fact that a draft Government Decision still provides for the setting up of a National Integrity Agency with powers of supervision in the field of conflicts of interest and declarations of assets and interests. In conclusion, GRECO stresses that the rules on conflicts of interest and incompatibilities and the supervision of such rules are insufficient.
Following year, the Commission points out, again, that legislation establishing an independent agency to verify wealth declarations is not adopted, emphasizing that integrity agency needs to be established.
Free Access to Information
In 2004, European Commission stresses that awareness of the public and the administration increased as concerns the rights and obligation provided by the Law on access to information and the Law on transparency of the decision-making process. However, it is underlined that their implementation remains uneven and that their full implementation should be pursued.
In the following year, GRECO emphasizes that Romanian authorities should review the legislation unjustifiably restricting the right of individuals to have access to official documents and to provide appropriate training to public officials on the implementation of the rules on freedom of information.
Financing of Political Parties
European Commission, in its Monitoring Report (2005), states that there is no progress on making the financing of political parties more transparent, pointing out that additional efforts are also required to address the problem of weak inter-institutional co-operation in fighting corruption and the proliferation of structures with overlapping competences, which remains a major obstacle to effective and timely investigations.
European Commission, in 2006, greets adoption of a new legislation that is tightening the rules on the financing of political parties.
Customs and Taxation
In 2004, the Commission stresses that Romania made progress in aligning its legislation with the acquis and GRECO points out that the Customs Directorate drew up a Programme of action against corruption in the Romanian customs authorities. However, the Commission states that despite efforts made by the authorities, including the adoption of the new Customs Officers Statute, corruption remains a major problem and a challenge within Customs. Finally, it is pointed out that the new Fiscal Code contributes to ensuring greater transparency and stability of tax legislation.
Following year, European Commission greets adoption of Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan which are consistent and coherent and provide for a sound framework to combat corruption in the Romanian Customs Authority, underlining that efforts in combating corruption at all levels must be sustained and increased. Furthermore, the Commission notes that despite the Romanian Customs Authority’s declared commitment to implement the strategy it lacks measurable success indicators to assess actual progress in the fight against corruption, stressing that urgent action is required to ensure full transparency, accountability and strict implementation of ethical code in the National Customs Authority. In conclusion, the Commission points out that Romania should carry out a reform and modernisation of the tax administration with a view to ensuring integrity and tackling the lack of resources and conflicts of interest currently hampering the capacity to ensure taxpayer compliance and collection of dues.
European Commission, in 2006, highlights that the Romanian Customs Authority’s anti-corruption strategy is focusing on developing simplified procedures and increasing IT usage for clearing operations, pointing out that these measures decreased the opportunities for corruption. In conclusion, it repeats that Romanian needs to carry out a general reform of the tax administration and collection with a view to ensuring integrity, preventing conflicts of interest and tackling the lack of resources.
Competition and State Aid
In Progress Report (2004) European Commission greets adoption of substantial amendments to the Romanian Competition Law which eliminates the possibility of granting exemptions for anti-competitive practices consisting of the abuse of a dominant position, underlining that additional efforts should be made to follow a more deterrent sanctions policy and to place more emphasis on preventing serious distortions of competition. Moreover, regarding state aid, the Commission underlines that a considerable effort will be necessary to establish transparency through a credible aid inventory, through enforcement of state aid rules and to adopt necessary rules for the credible monitoring of state aid.
In 2005, the Commission states that while a more deterrent sanctioning policy is put in place, the Competition Council must continue its active role, both as regards enforcement activities and competition advocacy, to ensure the continued liberalisation of the economy and the opening up of markets. In addition, it is pointed out that in order to reach a satisfactory enforcement level, it is crucial that the Competition Council continues with the assessment of existing aid measures.
Following year, the Commission highlights that good progress is made in state aid enforcement and that the quality and independence of the Competition Council’s assessment of state aid measures and their analysis remains satisfactory. However, it underlines that efforts should be continued to conclude the assessment of the major existing aid measures in time and that State aid grantors should ensure strict ex ante control of state aid schemes by the Competition Council.