Frans Timmermans: (...)frank exchange right now, very constructive. We are very happy that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister are here tonight so that we can look into our plans for the future. As far as the Commission is concerned, I think we have drawn some very constructive and positive conclusions. Firstly, we will jointly continue the fight against corruption, with all force, in Romania. This is why we will continue to implement the recommendations and the benchmarks in the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism Report, we are both very much committed to do, and we work closely to do that. Secondly, I am very much aware of that the Romanian Government needs to change legislation to make sure it is in accordance with European regulations and in that area, we have offered –if needed –our expertise to make sure it happens as intended by the Romanian Government and in line with EU legislation.
The same applies to the area where the legislation has to be put into accordance with the rulings of the Constitutional Court ,and we have also looked into the issue, the very serious issue of the overcrowding and the bad situation in the Romanian prisons. We have offered the Romanian Government a possibility to work closely with urgency on projects to improve living conditions in prisons, to make sure that buildings are renovated, and are brought to the levels that we expect of everyone in the EU.
We certainly want to support the Romanian Government with that, and we also have the possibility to use funds from the European Funds for Structural Investment to do that as well. Most importantly, I want to welcome Prime Minister Grindeanu to Brussels, to the European Commission, we look forward to very successful mutual cooperation.
Sorin Grindeanu: Thank you, Mr. Timmermans. I will speak in Romanian. I would like to thank the Vice –President for today’s meeting, an extremely constructive and applied meeting on what means the state of CVM measures implementation, our today’s requirements pertaining to the need for some CVM specifics to be more clear, and we received, we will convey what we want to be clarified so that we can meet all the CVM requirements. We also want to thank for the support and openness proven. I have understood they were expressed in the past years too, as far as the fund for the prisons renovation is concerned, but past governments did not manage to do this. We are determined to resort to it, and we thank you once again for your help. We have also reiterated our firm position regarding the continuation of the fight against corruption. We have expressed what we want in the future, if we refer to what has been so much discussed in Romania, namely the regulations in the justice area, we want these things to take place in Parliament, through an ampler debate involving institutions from Romania, NGOs, MPs of course, so that the Constitutional Court’s rulings referring to articles of the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, be passed by Parliament. Thank you once again for your support and for what we discussed and decided today, Mr. Vice –President.
Moderator: We have time to answer some questions.
Reporter: For Mr. Timmermans. Mr. Timmermans, do you consider that the recent abrogation by the Romanian Government of the controversial emergency ordinance amending the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code is a guarantee for the European Commission so that the European Executive keeps its commitment taken before other Romanian Prime Minister, Dacian Ciolos and the CVM is eliminated by the end of this year?
Frans Timmermans:I really welcome the fact that Emergency Ordinance no. 13 has been repealed. That’s a very good step. Now, the advice we have given to the Romanian Government in bringing that legal situation in line with rulings of the Constitutional Court and in transposing EU legislation, international legislation, that this be done in maximum openness so that everybody who has an interest in this, can be directly involved, can see what happens, can see exactly what is being done so that we avoid any misunderstanding, any ideas that this would be done to weaken the fight against corruption, etc, etc.
So, if this process is done in complete transparency, with full involvement of the NGO community and other stakeholders, then, I believe that European Commission can be fairly confident that the steps taken will produce the results we are looking for and that the fight against corruption will be maintained at the same intensity as before.
On your concrete question pertaining to the CVM, if you look at our latest reports, if you look at what has been achieved, in the last ten years, we are now in the final stretch of a marathon: when we will be reaching the finishing line depends on the speed with which the runner is running.
That speed is the consequence of the determination of the Romanian Government and Parliament, the Commission can assist, can help but the Commission cannot dictate that speed.That is up to the Romanian authorities and the speed will determine when the finishing line will be reached.
But very importantly to us that we have now seen the commitment of the Government, that they will continue towards the finishing line, and we will do whatever we can do to assist and to encourage the Government to reach the finishing line as soon as possible.
Reporter: My question for you, Vice –President, would be: what are going to do about Poland. Time is almost up, and I think there are some similarities here and it could be a lesson for the Romanians. Prime Minister: 2019 – Romanian Presidency of the European Union – with or without CVM?
Frans Timmermans: Today, we’ ll be talking about Romania, another time, we’ll be talking about Poland, but let’s not mix up the issues, these are completely different issues, and as far as Poland is concerned, we are still waiting for replies to our reccomendations, by the Polish Government, and we will take it from there.
Sorin Grindeanu: I will answer your previous question. Mr. Vice –President mentioned the speed both Government and Parliament should have, not only the Government. I can assure you of what I have said earlier, namely our desire to have the right speed for the next report to be very good, and to give you a precise answer: of course, I want 2019 without CVM.
Reporter: A question for both speakers. First of all, for Mr. Timmermans. Five years ago, the European Commission sent Romania 11 points to solve in the fight againt corruption. Does it have new recommendations for Romania, on this topic, in addition to the appreciation for the repeal of Ordinance 13? Can the future Justice Minister be a guarantee – what has been discussed on this issue, for the transparency, for the amendment of the criminal legislation?
Frans Timmermans: First of all, as far as the Commission is concerned, what we would expect in the fight against corruption and the functioning of the judiciary is spelled out quite explicitly in the CVM Report, and also all needs to be done is also spelled out quite explicitly.
I fully accepted the point of the Prime Minister, where he says: not everything is clear to us, and please help us clarify what you would see as concrete measures you want us to take. And I have personally taken an engagement to make sure that we will clarify this, that the Government knows exactly what we would advice and expect.
I strongly believe that if you stick to that roadmap, you would get where you need to be. We want to be in a situation where the fight is so sucessful, that the situation is irreversible.
This has nothing to do with party politics, it has nothing to do with other political discussions, it is the clear manifestation of the willigness of the Romanian people, Romanian Government and Romanian Parliament to create the situation where we passed the point of no return, and the Romanian citiezns are reassured that their country is no longer in the grips of systemic corruption. That’s exactly what the CVM process is all about.
Sorin Grindeanu: We will send in the ensuing period, the clarifications that we want to have on CVM recommendations, so that we know exactly what we need to do next and to take, as aforementioned, the necessary steps so that we achieve as transparently as possible, at the proper speed, what we need to do. We will send to the European Commission in the near future, these clarifications that we want.
Moderator: There is time for one more question. Ladies, first.
Reporter: Who will be the new Justice Minister, and what guarantees will the respective Minister offer to partners that no more slippages like Ordinance 13 occur anymore? Thank you!
Sorin Grindeanu: Thank you. These days, I have discussed with several persons. I shall make a decision in the next period, in this respect. I want to specify that I am thinking seriously of nominating somebody who is not politically affiliated. I held discussions with persons whose current professional background is beyond any question, who achieved a lot in this field, and proved their abilities. These meetings with persons I consider eligible, will continue in the following days and weekends. To conclude, probably at the beginning of next week, no later than mid-next week, I will make a nomination, and it can be somebody who is not member of the government coalition, therefore, an apolitical person.