The European Commission published its latest MCV (Cooperation and Verification Mechanism) report for Romania. The commission’s findings were generally positive, although a footnote pointed out that the Romanian government’s proposed emergency ordinances which would free hundreds of corrupt politicians and force cases to be dropped against many others were a threat to the country’s progress: ‘Clearly legal amendments with the effect of weakening or shrinking the scope of corruption as an offence, or which represented a major challenge to the independence or effectiveness of the DNA, would entail a reassessment of the progress made’, the report states. The MCV – which applies to Romania and Bulgaria – was set up when the two countries joined the EU in 2007 despite not yet having fully independent justice systems. It is used by the European Commission to monitor Romania’s justice system, and until it is lifted Romania cannot join either the Schengen passport-free travel zone or adopt the euro.
While Romanian President Klaus Iohannis welcomed the findings of the report, the government was far from happy. Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, leader of the Senate and president of minor coalition partner ALDE (and under investigation for corruption) said that Romania should unilaterally leave the MCV. We’re not sure it can. The MCV is there for a reason, after all: to make sure Romania continues to strive to create a fully independent justice system, as EU membership obliges it to do so. Anyone would think that Tariceanu had something to gain from Romania not having an independent judiciary. Oh, wait…
As for the two emergency ordinances, they were not passed at today’s cabinet meeting, from which the Justice Minister Florin Iordache reportedly left ‘in a fury’. Cabinet meets again tomorrow, however. The hold up could be a reluctance on the part of both Iordache and Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu to put their signatures on the ordinances. If it later transpires that they are illegal (and in their current format they almost certainly are) then it is Grindeanu and Iordache – not PSD leader and de facto PM Liviu Dragnea – who would be liable to face criminal charges.
Later on Wednesday the Magistrates’ Council added its weight to the call for the ordinances to be withdrawn altogether, saying that they would do ‘great damage’ if issued.
Mayor of Bucharest Gabriela Firea, asked on Wednesday why Bucharest’s streets (and pavements in particular) were in still in such a poor state more than two weeks since it last snowed, said that both she and the companies paid by Bucharest City Council to clear the snow had ‘done our duty’. She then added, rather bizarrely, that she was waiting ‘for the sun’ to finish the job.
A policeman in Bucharest’s Sector 2 was charged with running a protection racket. Nothing altogether new there, except that his main target was a security and protection company. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes indeed.
Toni Erdmann, a (rather funny) German-Romanian comedy set mainly in Bucharest was nominated in the Best Foreign Film category at this year’s Oscars.