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Friday, December 03, 2004
The report on Romania's progress towards EU membership, adopted by the Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday December 2, 2004 by 64 votes to 8 with 5 abstentions, is "encouraging but demanding; demanding, but friendly", in the words of rapporteur Pierre MOSCOVICI.
MEPs welcome the important steps taken by Romania but they stress that much still needs to be done, particularly on reform of the administration, the judicial system, the fight against corruption and the protection of minorities and children.
The committee wants to see negotiations concluded rapidly - "by the end of 2004" - while nevertheless emphasising that "artificially early chapter closure will harm rather than help Romania and her people".
It nevertheless hopes Romania will be in a position to sign the accession treaty in 2005, so it can enter into force on 1 January 2007.
The committee points out that Romania "will be subject to the same provisions as Bulgaria and the new Member States and therefore will be made subject to specific safeguard clauses in the event of serious shortcomings".
MEPs draw Romania's attention to the fact that, like Bulgaria, it could be made subject to a specific safeguard mechanism if the Commission believes there is a "serious risk that Romania is not in a position to meet the commitments that accession entails".
The Commission could then recommend that the Council decide to "delay its accession by one year". This would require a unanimous vote by the Council.
They add, in this connection, that "Romania's accession must be based on merit and performance".
The Foreign Affairs Committee acknowledges, as the Commission did in its report in October, that Romania meets the Copenhagen political criteria and has strengthened the stability of its institutions, thereby guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law and human rights. However it points to the need "for further reforms in the spheres of justice and public administration and greater efforts to combat corruption".
The committee congratulates Romania on the progress it has made on administrative and judicial reform and on the launch of a strategy to reform its public administration.
It therefore urges Romania to press ahead swiftly with these reforms "as a priority", with specific emphasis on adequate remuneration for civil servants, promotion on the basis of merit and improved management and training.
On the judicial front, it voices disquiet at recent official surveys showing that the executive continues to influence the outcome of judicial proceedings and it renews its call "for the judicial system to be made more independent and professional".
The report also notes that corruption is still "a major source of concern".
In this connection, MEPs "are alarmed" at the fact that very few corruption trials in Romania are successful. In addition they underline the importance of reforming the national police force, improving border controls, laying down national rules on the protection of children and combating discrimination against the Roma minority, which they say is still "very widespread".
On this point, they urge the Romanian Government to expand its action in this area and give priority to education.
On the subject of bringing national laws into line with Community legislation, the report states that Romania has "achieved a satisfactory degree of alignment in the vast majority of areas" and that, if it continues to advance at the current rate, it will have "every prospect of completing the requisite legislative transposition before the scheduled accession date".
However, MEPs stress that "improvements in the field of legislation and the adoption of action plans are not enough".
Mechanisms for the implementation and monitoring of the enforcement of legislation are needed, to enable progress to be assessed.
Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 12/03/2004 11:21:00 am
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