Last Friday, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark expressed their concerns in a letter adddressed to the European Commission over the need for further rule of law compliance inside the EU-27. Specifically, this letter follows the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) meeting held in Brussels on 7 and 8 March 2013 that delayed considering a vote on Bulgaria and Romania’s accession to Schengen presumably until 2014.
“The Council had a a state of play discussion on the full application of the provisions of the Schengen acquis in the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania. The Presidency concluded the debate as follows: The Council reverted to the issue of the Schengen accession of Romania and Bulgaria, as requested by the European Council in December 2012. […] The Council decided to address this issue again by the end of 2013 with a view to considering the way forward on the basis of a two step approach”.
The abovementioned states asked the EU Commission’s President to initiate a mechanism that allows the EU to intervene swiftly when rule of law abuse is reported. Whereas no country was finger pointed, the initiative concocted by “mature” democracies is meant to regulate presumed abuse in the conception and enforcement of law in inception democracies. Romania, Hungary or Bulgaria, to name just a few.
In Romania, we cannot elude President Barroso’s TO-DO list for PM Victor Ponta during the political crisis that emerged in July 2012 just after the impeachment of President Traian Basescu when Barroso warned against rule of law breaches like diminishing the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, ruling by government emergency ordinances only, use of the Official Gazette for political purposes, nominations of ministers lacking integrity, lack of reaction towards final judicial decisions on MPs that are still in office and so on.
Strengthening the rule of law in Romania through yet another EU mechanism other than the MCV progress report that just said our judicial system lacks strength, is like barking at the wrong tree. At least this is how the news was digested in Bucharest. Romanian Justice Minister Mona Pivniceru said last week in Brussels that the MCV progress report on Romania brings in too much constraints adding up from one report to another, unconscious perhaps that our own national political home agenda changes from one report to another.
According to Mona Pivniceru, the MCV progress report on Romania and Bulgaria does not have a clear working methodology and as such the Romanian side is interested in defining, along with the European Commission, the respective indicators to be achieved.
Basically, the Justice Minister complained that Romania wishes to anticipate situations in which the EU considers we might have drifted away from the treaties, which is nonsense. Presumably, over here teaching rule of law enforcement needs further methodologies in inception democracies. We might need a TO-DO list from Brussels in Justice Affairs soon.
Well, the 4 countries that asked for a new compliance mechanism in the EU-27 might have heard this rudimentary explanation before making their plea. This must also show their concern over Hungary’s new Constitution possibly violating democracy and the rule of law and thus anticipate Romania’s own attempt at amending its Constitution that has already raised inside vitriolic debates, harmless however as the parliamentary solid majority shall have its go.
Brussels might well ponder upon enforcing a compliance mechanism thus averting marathon debates across Central and Eastern Europe in order to create a culture of respect for the rule of law.