After all the political scandals in Romania, it becomes clear that only a new constitution can bring the much needed reform to the country. But first lets look at some problems that the country is facing:
It seems that, after EU accession, reform willingness has somewhat disappeared. This can be seen as a result of letting Romania join the EU although it was not fully prepared. However, the European Commission is still monitoring progress in key policy areas and also has the power to activate several safeguard measures that could for example make every judicial verdict not valid throughout the EU, a truly humiliating step for any EU member state. The latest progress report of the European Commission concludes:
Delays have occurred in implementing a coherent recruitment strategy for the judiciary (benchmark 1), in the establishment of a National Integrity Agency (benchmark 2) and in developing an overall strategy and implementing flagship projects to fight local corruption (benchmark 4). Romania should particularly step up its efforts in the fight against high-level corruption (benchmark 3) and should strengthen its efforts to maintain the legal and institutional stability of the Romanian anti-corruption framework.
That sounds rather diplomatic, but actually Romania has deep-rooted problems and the Commission should not hesitate to trigger the safeguard clauses if no improvements are reported by June, when the next report is due.
Especially the judiciary produced quite a number of scandals lately. The Romanian Constitutional Court declared that the law regulating the work of the CNSAS (the institution dealing with the Securitate files) is partly unconstitutional. This highly controversial decision forced CNSAS to stop its operations, at least for the time being! Read here about the background story of Romanias’ “Sluggish processing of the past”. Quite a strange coincidence is that just this week CNSAS announced the first results of an ongoing investigation that showed that 1 in 5 Romanian judges were key collaborators of the infamous secret police Securitate.
And now the same Court decided that the President has the right to reject the first candidate (proposed by the Prime Minister) for a ministerial post. (The case was brought before the Court following President Basescu’s refusal to appoint Norica Nicolai as Minister of Justice.) However, according to the ruling, he can only block the candidate once, which can be seen as a rather weak competence. The problem is that the very same Constitutional Court came to a contradictory ruling a few months ago in the case of Foreign Minister Cioroianu. In this case, the Court ruled that the President does not have the right to reject any proposed candidate. It is now an open secret that the rulings of the Romanian Constitutional Court are politically biased.
This has to be put in context with the developments from last year, which I covered here and here. But all these problems are related and, in fact, could be seen as results of the ill-conceived Romanian constitution or, as Mircea Marian (translation via eurotopics) puts it: “The constitution, contrived in 1991 and corrected cosmetically in 2003, is a disaster. Romania needs a new constitution. And it must be designed either for a presidential republic or a parliamentary republic. But not for a ‘semi’-republic, a monster with two heads that spit fire at each other.”