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Timmermans in Bucharest: The best warranter of the rule of law is the Romanian people


The best warranter of the rule of law is the Romanian people, who will continue the fight against corruption after the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) process is ended in Romania, on Thursday asserted in Bucharest the visiting First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans.

Our fight for the rule of law and for the human rights is not a fight for ourselves. We believe that every European citizen, no matter where they live deserve a rule of law, Frans Timmermans told a joint press conference with the Romanian Prime Minister, Sorin Grindeanu and the Justice Minister, Tudorel Toader at the Victoria Palace.

Timmermans added that the enforcement of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism in the last 10 years has brought achievements to Romania. At the same time, the European official referred to the changes in the judiciary which gave "emotions" to the officials in Brussels.

Some of these achievements did not look possible ten years ago. Now we are on the last hundred meters of this long marathon. We had emotions a few months ago, when we had the feeling that the entire process will be stopped or the direction will be changed. We had fruitful meetings with Premier Grindeanu. (...) I'm positive that the best warranter of the fight against corruption is the Romanian people. It is a strong feeling in the Romanian society that this is the right fight. The people wish (...) for this fight to go on. I'm certain that after all these recommendations will be fulfilled and the CVM process will be closed, the anti-corruption fight will be in fact furthered by the Romanian people . (...) This is the best guarantee (...) that the process will go on after the CVM process is ended, assessed Timmermans, adding that he is "absolutely confident" in the plan of the Romanian Government and in the projects of the Justice Minister.

He wanted to underline that the Romanians are those who want the fight against corruption to go on, that they do that not only because Brussels is telling them so, but because the people wishes it, for themselves.

As for the date the CVM process is to be ended, Timmermans said he couldn't forward a deadline and called for the Legislative to support the Government.

I never give deadlines. The government's programme is very clear and everything depends on the public consultations, on the talking with all of the people involved and on the vote in the Parliament. (...) The path followed by the Government is heading to accomplishing the recommendations. The Parliament is sovereign, but I would ask the Parliament to support the Government in the latter's approaches and to never choose another way. (...) These are our last recommendations. We won't change them, we won't add anything new. (...) Hopefully this Government will have the Parliament's strong support to fulfill this goal, and from the Romanian society, too, because once this goal attained, it will come to an irreversible point, stressed Timmermans.

In his opinion Romania can be President of the Council of the EU in 2019 and continue under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), taking into account that there is not connection between the two. 

I understand that the Prime Minister says that the CVM conclusion before taking over the Council of the EU presidency is a matter of prestige, but honestly, there is no connection between the two, the European official told a press conference in Bucharest. 

He added that if the Romanian authorities hurried to fulfill the 12 requirements in the report, the situation is a beneficial one. 

If the Romanian Government sees a connection and wants to move fast, so much the better. I personally don't see why Romania cannot be Council of EU President and at the same time have a dialogue with us, under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. It is about cooperation, Timmermans showed. 

Premier Sorin Grindeanu said on Thursday that his goal is to make sure that the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) is ended before Romania takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. 

"My and the government's goal is to complete the CVM before Romania takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It is a matter of prestige and not only, I am very particular about this," Premier Grindeanu told a press conference delivered jointly with European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Justice Minister Tudorel Toader at the Victoria Palace of Government.

Frans Timmermans, who was on an official visit to Romania, has had meetings with the Senate's Chairman, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and with the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea.

Parliament and the Government want the withdrawal of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (MCV) Romania and there is no objective in preventing the fight against corruption, Chamber of Deputies's Speaker Liviu Dragnea communicated to the First Vice-President of the EU Commission, Frans Timmermans. 

"The Government is encouraged, is supported. I explained to him that we did not have, we do not have nor will we have an approach or an objective to prevent the fight against corruption. And we will continue to strengthen the rule of law and the law enforcement in Romania, but at the same time I told him that we will continue to implement, to enforce the Romanian Constitutional Court (CCR) decisions that are mandatory. And we have also discussed the parliamentary impunity. I told him what my position has been for a few years, and if we ever get to change the Constitution, or to remove this immunity, or to make it clearer, and I told him something that he could not but agree with - it happens anywhere in any country : parliamentarians vote as their conscience dictates. There were situations when they voted in a certain way, and other situations in which, for different reasons, they voted in a different way. As long as there is this constitutional competency, there will probably be votes that disturb some, but do not bother others," Dragnea stated in Parliament, after the meeting with Timmermans. 

Asked if the CVM report in 2017 will be the last one, as Senate President Calin Popescu-Tariceanu has announced, he replied that Parliament and Government want this report to end. 

Timmermans wrote in his Twitter account that he encouraged the Romanian Parliament to support the Government's efforts for reaching the objectives under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) in the justice area.

"To be successful in the CVM process, I encourage the Romanian Parliament to support the Government in the final stretch of the marathon" .

At the end of the visit, Frans Timmermans have had a dialogue with the citizens at the National Museum of Arts, on the White Paper on the future of Europe, the 60th anniversary of the Rome treaties and Romania's 10th EU membership anniversary.