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Group of States against Corruption publishes report on Romania

Strasbourg, 15 March 2011 The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) published today its Third Round Evaluation Report on Romania, in which it stresses the need to achieve improvements in the area of party financing and the legal framework for corruption offences.

The report focuses on two distinct themes: criminalisation of corruption and transparency of party funding. Regarding the criminalisation of corruption [Theme I], Romania has ratified the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 173) and its Additional Protocol (ETS 191). The combination of the provisions contained in the Criminal Code and Law no. 78/2000 on preventing, discovering and sanctioning of corruption acts results in a comprehensive legal framework on corruption and the new Criminal Code (entry into force expected in October 2011) will improve it further. However, some gaps will need to be filled, in particular to cover bribery of public officials and trading in influence whether or not the act of the official is within the scope of his/her formal competence. Moreover, the existing arrangements concerning effective regret are a particular source of concern given the limited safeguards in place to prevent their abuse by bribe-givers.

The current political context would not make it possible to adopt again a piece of legislation as powerful as Law 78/2000. Anti-corruption bodies are currently struggling to preserve their legal powers and ability to deal with cases involving the political and economical elite.

As for party financing [Theme II], Law no. 334/2006 on financing the activity of political parties and election campaigns, republished in 2010 is a fine piece of legislation which provides for a variety of measures aimed at increasing the overall transparency of political life. It is at times over-ambitious and imposes many limitations that are probably difficult to enforce in practice. Accounting, reporting and disclosure measures are in place but some important loopholes hamper the effectiveness of these measures. For instance, all donations up to 420 euros fall outside the scope of the regulations; in-kind donations, loans and movements of assets within political parties need to be more clearly regulated.

Supervision of party and campaign financing is under the joint responsibility of the Permanent Electoral Authority (PEA) and the Court of Accounts. However, these arrangements and the way responsibilities are distributed are not satisfactory. The report stresses that the PEA should take the lead responsibility in this area and be given corresponding means. Also, the maximum penalties for infringements of the rules are not adequate.

It is important that improvements are rapidly implemented since political financing in Romania has been surrounded by numerous allegations of dubious practices.

GRECO addresses 20 recommendations to Romania. In the second half of 2012, it will assess the implementation of these recommendations through its specific compliance procedure.