The European Commission warns that the new ANI law does not meet the criteria of the Verification and Cooperation mechanism. Anti-corruption experts warn that this might also financially affect Romania, not just negatively impact its image.
The European Commission’s Justice Report, to be issued late this month, will brutally sanction the form under which Parliament passed the new National Integrity Agency Law. And the effects will soon be seen. “We’re holding out our hands to the EC and the IMF, but when we need to meet our obligations, we fail to do so. We can expect a ‘cold shoulder’ from European partners, next time Romania needs the money,” thinks Laura Ştefan, Romanian Academic Society justice and anti-corruption expert. Linking ANI’s failure to the money our country could receive from the European Union (structural funds or loans such as the EUR5 billion one, agreed upon in May last year) is explicable, as the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism does not stipulate any direct sanctions in case Romania doesn’t meet the objectives it set for itself. In concrete terms, the safeguard clause could have only been activated by the end of 2009, which would have translated as a failure to acknowledge Romanian court-sentences in the rest of Europe. There are no such sanctions applicable in 2010, but Romanian justice is being indeterminately monitored, and the monitoring can only be suspended if EU member states unanimously decide to do so. This seems unlikely to happen, if we take into account the criticism against Romania’s behavior expressed by many countries, while others voiced concerns on how things started to go, post-accession, on January 1, 2007.
ANI’s failure, which, in other words is its failure to achieve one of the main targets it set, can also affect Romania in terms of negotiation abilities within the EU. “Romania’s negotiation prowess has been substantially lowered by the problems it has in the field of justice, and that it cannot solve,” belives SAR expert Laura Stefan. Romania’s European partners have made it very clear that they don’t approve of the current form of the ANI law, as expressed by EC spokesperson, Mark Gray: “The amendments adopted by Parliament will give rise to serious concern and a preliminary analysis indicates that the new law does not meet the key requirements of the seoncd objective in the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.” “As the Commission sees it, ANI is a key-pillar in the struggle against corruption in Romania.”