Romania in the EU: truths and misinformation

Europuls – Centre of European Expertize, a politically neutral association, draws the attention on the press manipulation from October 1st 2018, regarding the statements of the First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, and as well on the ideas about a possible exit of Romania from the EU. Thus, we want to reject the unfounded assertions and provide an objective point of view of what has happened.

We remind political decision-makers that EU membership requires adherence to the core values ​​and principles enshrined in the Treaties on the European Union (TEU) as well as respect for the principles outlined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. We emphasis in particular Articles 2, 3 and 4 of TEU because these principles and values, in addition to being formally assumed by Romania in 2007, should be appropriated in the day-to-day practices of politicians to demonstrate their significance. Unfortunately, they are not reflected in the statements and actions of the political leaders of the current government.

For these reasons, any non-transparent and undemocratic practices are inconsistent with the principles of Romania’s membership of the EU. The amendments made to Justice Laws, the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, the events from August 10th and the statements made by the Prime Minister during the recent visit to Brussels are the reasons for which the European Parliament decided to hold a debate in Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) on the situation in Romania, as well as the debate in the plenary session of the European Parliament on October 3rd. The debates are organised to clarify the position of the Romanian authorities regarding the status of EU member state, especially in the context of taking over the Presidency of the EU Council on January 1st 2019.

We inform the Romanian citizens about the lack of veracity of the following statements made by the leader of the Chamber of Deputies, Mr. Dragnea, on October 1st 2018, following the debate in the LIBE Committee in the European Parliament on the situation in Romania:

Statements by Liviu Dragnea, source “I have to admit that I am quite disappointed with this attitude because I have never imagined that an EU member state would be threatened so roughly.”
Statements by Frans Timmermans, source Frans Timmermans has not posed a threat, but a potential consequence of current activities stemming from Article 258 of the EU Treaty on the infringement procedures: “If we come to the conclusion that the rules are violated, we will not hesitate to take the necessary measures, even to bring the Romanian government before the court. We call on the Romanian Government to bring the reform process back on track. Specifically, this means meeting our recommendations in the CVM report of January 2017, the recommendations of the Venice Commission and the ones of GRECO.”
Statements by Liviu Dragnea, source “This was not a real debate, it was a list of previously established positions, a conviction before studying the evidence, so to speak, because I have this unfortunate experience.”
Statements by Frans Timmermans, source The Vice-President of the European Commission has mentioned the various European and international bodies and institutions that have debated the situation in Romania and have issued recommendations to the Romanian authorities: “Unfortunately, the reality is that the Romanian Parliament has not so far wanted to respond to the opinions and recommendations issued by bodies such as GRECO and the Venice Commission. Justice laws are crucial to prosecutors’ ability to investigate and to judges’ independence to make decisions in high-level corruption files. At the same time, there have been complaints about abuses made by prosecutors’ offices and intelligence services. These require impartial investigations carried out by the competent authorities, but first, the national authorities, the Romanian Parliament and the courts must supervise the activities of the intelligence services. In order to be able to fully assess the impact of the judicial reforms, we ask for further clarification on how the specific elements of these laws should be interpreted.”
Statements by Liviu Dragnea, source “I just want to say that written documents, information, evidence have been sent to Brussels, but nobody had any sort of reaction, no one said concretely which amendments from the judicial reforms affect the independence of the judiciary. There is no such thing; on the contrary, any potential political interference has thus been removed from the appointment of judges and the ÎCCJ (High Court of Cassation and Justice).”
Statements by Frans Timmermans, source The European Commission monitors the independence of judiciary based on elements of the report under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). The CVM report is the result of continued exchange and dialogue between Romanian authorities and Member States. To this end, Frans Timmermans has stated that “in the upcoming CVM report in November 2018, the European Commission will be evaluating the entire process so far. The current situation has worsened compared to previous reports. Rest assured that all elements will be analysed and included in the upcoming report. As I have said before, a step backwards would be a disappointment for all of Romania’s EU partners, but, above all, its citizens. Progress has been made, but it is not irreversible. On the contrary, the recent developments have questioned this progress and they risk to undermine our common objective, that of a positive evolution in Romania in such a manner that the CVM is no longer necessary. It would be a tragedy if, before the last mile of the marathon, you start running in the opposite direction. This is what concerns me.”
Statements by Liviu Dragnea, source “I really do not think that First Vice-President Timmermans can tell the Romanian people how it should vote in this referendum. I think no one in the European Union can tell the Romanian people how to define marriage in its Constitution.”
Statements by Frans Timmermans, source Liviu Dragnea’s statement comes as a stark contradiction to the words of First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, who in turn stated that the European Union does not have any power on this matter, and actually the member states are the ones to decide in this area as they deem necessary. “I do not think that anyone in this room has any doubt regarding my position on this topic. I do believe in the values of family, I am a father, husband, I have four children; however, I do not want these aspects to be used as arguments to justify homophobia or the rejection of any other types of family. It is not me who decides if a member state gives the possibility to same-sex couples to get married.”

Europuls strongly denounces the recent irresponsible statements of Daniel Dragomir and Marian Munteanu, who advocate for Romania to leave the European Union. Their arguments follow the same pattern of manipulation used in the United Kingdom during the ‘Brexit’ campaign. Ever since Article 50 has been triggered, a significant majority of these false statements have been unveiled as untruthful and misleading. Romania is a net beneficiary of European funds, having contributed in 2017 to the budget of the European Union with €1.228 mld., while a total amount of €4.741 mld. has been allocated to our country. This sole fact dismantles Daniel Dragomir’s declaration: “The time to seriously think of what is best for Romania has come. We have humiliated ourselves enough for Mr Timmermans’ salaries and benefits. Do not you think you have stolen enough from us to give us lesson?

Europuls calls for responsibility and good judgement in public statements. A debate on such a key topic for Romania – our membership of the European Union – cannot and should not start from false statements meant to manipulate the Romanian public. We invite political leaders in Romania to respect and implement the values that Romania adhered to when we became a Member State, as well as condemn the idea of leaving the European Union, an idea that would make an incommensurable and irreparable disservice to its citizens.

Authors: European Affairs Experts Team at Europuls – Centre of European Expertise