EU ANTI-CORRUPTION REPORT 2014
Romania: 93% of the population think corruption is widespread!
When asked "Do you consider patronage and nepotism to be a problem for your company when doing business in Romania?" 63% out of a maximum of 69% answered YES!
Strategic approach. The most recent national anti-corruption strategy 2012-2015 was adopted by the Government and endorsed by Parliament in 2012.
It is based on a wide consultation process and was welcomed by most stakeholders. The strategy takes a multi-disciplinary approach and requires the development of sector-and institution-specific anti-corruption strategies across the board. A peer-review mechanism, involving civil society, was put in place to monitorits implementation.
Cooperation platforms grouping various categories of stakeholders were also set up.
Monitoring is carried out through evaluation rounds by topic. The activities undertaken within the monitoring process and the assessments made are published on a dedicated portal.
Implementation is ensured within the limits of the fiscal budgetary strategy for 2012-2014.
The national anti-corruption strategy follows a project-based approach: i.e.a number of measures are covered through specific projects while others are considered not to require additional funding and should consequently be covered by the regular budgets of the institutions concerned.
The latter category represents 80% of the foreseen measures.
While some progress was made on combating high-level corruption, the fight against petty corruption has not yielded sufficient results, while the prevention side remains rather weak both at central and at local levels.
The Council recommended to Romania, in the context of the 2013 European Semester for economic policy coordination, to fight corruption more effectively.
The legal framework is largely in place, including recent steps taken to reform the criminal code and the criminal procedure code, which are due to enter into force in
early 2014. These reforms aim at fine-tuning the legal framework, strengthening law enforcement authorities and anti-corruption institutions and ensuring increased efficiency
and coherent practice of the judiciary in dealing with high-level corruption cases.
However, a number of the most recent legislative initiatives of Parliament in December 2013, which, among others, would have narrowed the scope of corruption offences and criminal law provisions on conflicts of interest have seriously called into doubt the stability of the current legislation and the political commitment to see the anti-corruption reforms through.
The above-mentioned legislative amendments were declared unconstitutional by the Romanian Constitutional Court in January 2014.
Other considerable challenges remain, including on the implementation of the new codes.
The instability of these legislative acts and a number of legal problems identified by practitioners which may require amendments of the codes or interpretative guidelines before their entry into force raise additional difficulties.
Romania has set up a comprehensive institutional anti-corruption framework. The National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), a specialised prosecution office, is tasked to investigate high-level corruption cases. The DNA has established a solid track record of non-partisan investigations into allegations of high-level corruption.
The successful investigations it has carried out in the last decade revealed corrupt practices involving high-level politicians and public officials, members of the judiciary, law enforcement officials, and people from a wide range of sectors: transport, infrastructure, healthcare, extractive industries, energy, agriculture, sports, etc.
For a long time the judiciary had been less effective in dealing with high-level corruption. A change was noted over recent years; the High Court of Cassation and Justice in particular set an example by increasing efficiency in the adjudication of complex corruption cases.
The service known as the Anti-Corruption General Directorate (DGA) within the Ministry of Home Affairs is a specialised police structure mainly responsible for investigating corruption within the police, while also covering other sectors.
The National Integrity Agency (ANI) checks conflicts of interests, incompatibilities and personal wealth of public officials. Since its establishment in 2008, the
ANI has shown good results overall.
In the past five years, the confirmation rate of the ANI's decisions on incompatibilities, as well as the administrative decisions on conflicts of interest exceeded 80%.
Following the ANI's decisions, over EUR 1million in unjustified personal wealth was confiscated on the basis of final court decisions.
However, over time the follow-up of the ANI's decisions encountered considerable difficulties.
The political will to support the independence, stability and capacity of the anti-corruption institutions and the judiciary has not been constant over time.
Romania Country reports on judicial corruption
According to the Romanian Study on National Integrity System, the judicial system has been aweak pillar of integrity throughout the transition from communism. It is a three-tiered court system, with a Supreme Court and a body of public prosecutors. The superior council of magistracy represents judicial authority in relations with other state authorities and is guarantor of its independence. This body also safeguards the integrity of members of the judiciary and manages judicial infrastructure.
Alignment with EU justice standards
Reforms have been rare and difficult throughoutmost of the transition. In recent years, upcoming accession to the EU has been a catalyst to improving the pace and effectiveness of judiciary reforms.
These have paid off in certain areas, as noted by the EU’s monitoring report on Romania in May 2006, which recognised ‘good progress’ in the overall reform of the justice sector, but it also noted the need for vigilance regarding continuing unethical behaviour. Many reforms exist only as well-articulated legal frameworks that have not yet been
put into practice. In 2004–05 in particular, important judicial reforms were made, primarily modifying or adopting new laws, including three that concerned the Magistrates’ Statute, judicial organisation and the attributes of the superior council of magistracy.
TI Romania has monitored implementation of these measures and from October 2005 to October 2006 hosted a counselling centre to help citizens complain about corruption in the judiciary. During that period, the centre received over 1,600 complaints of which it directly assisted almost 600. However, only 40 per cent fell within the centre’s remit. Of these, the centre referred 30 per cent to the superior council of magistracy to determine whether the magistrate in question could be held responsible. After analysis, TI Romania concluded that implementation of reforms was deficient due to poor administrative skills and lack of will by heads of courts and prosecutors’ offices. The summary report
for the centre’s first phase of operation revealed that courts, registries, archives and clerks’ offices suffer from poor integrity and bad administr ation in the quality and promptness of
service. This led to the conclusion that the reforms have had little impact thus far on citizens’ relationship with the justice system.
Pressure on judgement
Legal reforms in the past three years have sought to address the issue of judicial independence, which has been critical since the 1989 revolution.
For example, legislation in 2005 transferred management of the judiciary budget from the Ministry of Justice to the superior council of magistracy, effective from 2008, to ensure proper operational and staffing procedures are in place. Until then, it remains under ministerial control. The council is composed of nine judges and five prosecutors, elected by their peers, but also by law includes the Minister of Justice, the Supreme Court president, the general prosecutor and two civil society representatives elected by the senate. This structure ensures judicial independence, contingent on the application of subsequent reforms. According to a TI Romania survey in September 2005, 78 per cent of magistrates view the justice system as independent, though not ‘absolutely independent’. Judges indicated that they felt pressure on their decisions from media, members of parliament,
government officials and economic interests while prosecutors said they experienced pressure from within the hierarchy, notably from chief prosecutors. Though judiciary management will pass to the supreme council, this development will be accompanied by continuing structural weaknesses, such as inadequate court staffing and magistrates’
low professional standards. With regard to integrity, Romania has had a judicial code of ethics since 2001 and in 2005 became one of the first countries in the region to adopt a code of ethics for court personnel. Training in both needs improvement, as do mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing them.