TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL IS DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE SITUATION IN ROMANIA
Transparency International Romania is deeply concerned about the situation in Romania regarding the spread of the misperception according to which the risk for the withdrawal of the European funds is the result of a negative evaluation within the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification. Such a report would have as a consequence measures like the suspension of EU member-states’ obligation of recognizing and enforcing the decisions of Romanian courts, while the risk of applying financial sanctions to Romania is the direct result of the weak capacity of administration and of mismanagement of EU funds.
Moreover, the explanation provided on 11 May by the European Commission’s spokesperson with regard to the supposition made on the effects of a negative report indicate the necessity of guaranteeing that “EU funds shall be received by Romanian citizens as soon as possible”, but also that “taxpayers’ money, including the Romanian ones, shall be wisely spent”.
Even if there is no direct correlation between the EU funds and the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification, the being a member-state entails the guarantee of administrating with integrity EU money and the eradication of corruption in the public sector.
Transparency International Romania draws attention upon the unacceptable vulnerability of the public system, manifested in flaws that have no precedent in any previous government, such as the modification of legislation regarding the structure and functioning of DLAF, whose independence was severely infringed. On the very same day, Bucharest authorities have also initiated the proposal of dissolution for the National Commission for Solving of Appeals (CNSC) in public assessments domain, and moreover, “personalizing”, under a General Secretary appointed politically, the Department for Control of the Government, measures that tend to eliminate the mechanism of guaranteeing integrity in using EU funds and therefore, to be an impulse for corruption.
These situations are part of an entire series of severe failings, such as appointing prefects that have no actual experience in administration, contrary to the legal provisions that stipulate the obligation of them being career civil servants, while also taking into also consideration that the majority of civil servants that have been the beneficiaries of training programmes financed through pre-adherence funds have already left the system. Thus, the European funds managed through operational programmes risk to take the same course, provided the circumstances of an obvious conflict between the strategies concerning operational programmes and the enforcement of the operational strategy regarding the administrative decentralization, even more in the context of not having an Administrative Code and an Administrative Procedure Code.
Unfortunately, the current situation comes to confirm once more the major risks concerning the efficiency of using European funds and the black hole prominent features of Romania. Provided these circumstances, even the less probable case of a report that would emphasize progress made towards achieving compliance as established by the Mechanism of Cooperation and Verification would not eliminate the weak administrative capacity and therefore, this could by no means represent a guarantee against financial sanctions.
In what may concern the lack of political willingness to adopt actual measures that would represent substantial and irreversible progress, the intermediate report of the European Commission made public in February underlines the importance of retaking the “dynamic path of reforming the judicial system and fight against corruption, so as to be a counterweight to the regress registered in the last months.”
In such conditions, the Government should not afford to ignore taking immediate actions (in this regard, Annex 1).
Furthermore, we underline the lack of progress in fighting against corruption in public administration, according to the commitments in the framework of compliance. TI-Romania draws attention upon the necessity of a correct identification of priorities on citizens’ agenda. While the most recent Corruption Perception Index provided by Transparency International suggests that Romania ranks penultimate in the rating of EU member-states, The Global Corruption Barometer presented by Transparency International in 2007 shows the alarming fact that one out of three Romanians have used bribing in the last 12 months in order to benefit from public services, contrasted with the previous year’s situation, when only one out of five did the same. 33% from the respondents have appreciated that in the next 3 years corruption is to increase, and 27%, that it is to remain at the same levels. Moreover, public opinion barometers constantly show, since the beginning of the integration process, that, after the topics of social interests related to life standards and quality of life, Romanians have indicated fighting against corruption as their major concern, area towards which dissatisfaction was always extremely prominent.
Corruption has, beyond any doubt, a negative effect upon citizens’ rights and liberties, and it is the main source of poverty and underdevelopment. In Romania, corruption tends to become an organized phenomenon, specialized and professionalized, taking the form of a network built out of both organizations and persons, that by diverse means get to corrupt decision-making processes in the highest levels of politics, legislative, justice and administration.
Thus, the worries expressed by the European and member-states forums with regard to the risks in the continuation of funding developmental programmes in Romania under the current vulnerability to corruption of the public system are totally justified. The sanctions that can occur are strictly linked to the incompliance in administration and furthermore, to renouncing some of the commitments Romania has already assumes, as follows:
- Failure to respect the commitments and conditions in the negotiation chapter regarding the public service
- Failure to commit to the democratic standards established through Copenhagen Criteria by the candidate states themselves
- Rapid change that has not been justified by public policies make useless all EU investments through pre-accession funds
- The institutional reorganization immediately after completing certain programmes of technical assistance
The speculations concerning the imposing of a certain schedule for changing Romania’s legal infrastructure through the adoption of new legal codes shall but lead towards an altered and opaque enactment process, from which groups of interests could easily profit, while citizen rights are severely infringed.
Taking into consideration the situation previously stated, Transparency International Romania considers that, through the current law projects of the criminal and criminal procedure codes, these priorities are ignored, promoting instead a policy of unacceptable tolerance contrasted with the spreading of corruption and with its costs felt by Romanian citizens. Moreover, considering the manner in which the new Criminal Code has been elaborated, it would result into an ineffective sanctioning of corruption crimes. The next Criminal Code stipulates that, for such crimes, there is the possibility of suspending the execution of sentence. Moreover, the prescription of legal responsibility for corruption crimes is more rapid and the sentences are smaller.
The defective drafting of the law project’s general part leads towards the decriminalization of most of corruption crimes already committed and, therefore, towards an indirect partial amnesty for corruption acts that have severely affected the Romanian social and development system.
Considering the deficiencies observed in the manner of elaboration and drafting of the legal texts that incriminate corruption crimes, Transparency International Romania has elaborated a set of examples of errors and, moreover, suggestions aimed at assuring their rectification and the drafting of a unequivocal, accurate and efficient legal text.
Transparency International Romania requests the Romanian Parliament to take note of these recommendations and consequently modify the Title V – Corruption and Service Crimes in the law draft of the Criminal Code, so that the final text of this regulation act should produce legal effects contributing to the limitation of crime phenomenon and to the fight against corruption.
Transparency International Romania
Victor Alistar – Executive Director, Transparency International Romania