Josef Weidenholzer: Romania must remain on a positive European path

S&D Group MEPs have underlined that fundamental values must remain at the core of the European Union: democracy and rule of law. The call came during a debate on the situation in Romania, proposed by the S&D Group, following the ongoing discussions regarding the country’s reform of the judiciary, as well as demonstrations over the summer.

S&D Group vice-president responsible for civil liberties, justice and home affairs, Josef Weidenholzer said:

“We have made very clear that our Group will always be at the forefront in the fight for democracy and the rule of law, regardless of the country or government. This is why we called for this exchange of views. Romania has made giant leaps forward during the 11 years since it joined the EU. Both in terms of economic growth, but also in terms of strengthening democratic institutions and the fight against corruption. We need to make sure that this progress does not stall or go backwards. We have heard concerns regarding the recent justice reform, which has not yet come into effect, as well as on the role of the secret services in judicial action and on the clashes that took place during the summer.

“Regarding the violent clashes that occurred in August, we count on the Romanian authorities to shed full light on the situation and take action based on the findings of the ongoing investigation.

“Regarding changes to the judiciary, these are currently being looked at by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. The Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă committed today to take the Venice Commission’s recommendations fully into account. European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans echoed this message and stressed that the Romanian government must continue a constructive and cooperative dialogue with the European Commission on the reform of the judiciary and fight against corruption. For our Group the need to uphold an independent judiciary goes hand-in-hand with breaking the control of the intelligence services, who still play too large a role behind the scenes in the country.

“Romania has made great progress since the end of communism almost 30 years ago. We heard encouraging pro-EU words from the Romanian Prime Minister this week but we need to see the government address the concerns expressed today and continue on the path of reform. This should start with following the Venice Commission’s recommendations.”