Another Europe is possible

Corruption and authoritarianism rife in Romania - but EU also to blame

03/10/2018

Venice Commission report needed before threatening Romania with sanctions

Corruption and authoritarianism rife in Romania - but EU also to blame

Image from Albert Dobrin on Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

With Romania gripped by months of political infighting and civil unrest, Left MEP Barbara Spinelli (Independent, Italy) has said that whilst judicial independence and the fight against corruption are important causes, the fragmented nature of the year-long protests point to more fundamental flaws in the European Union itself.

She also said that until all the facts have been established by the Venice Commission on the situation with rule of law in Romania, the European Commission is wrong to start issuing threats to a member state whilst letting others off the hook.

With the upcoming referendum that would effectively criminalise same-sex marriage in Romania this Sunday, Spinelli said that corruption is not the only reason behind the protests:

“The protest movement is not focused only on corruption. It also rails against the constitutionalisation of a new definition of family as the exclusive union between a man and a woman,” she said.

Spinelli explained further the nuances within the protest movement, and blamed the EU and the Single Market for disenfranchising the Romanian electorate, driving so many of them onto the streets:

“The supporters of the incumbent PSD (Social Democratic Party) are mocked as ‘elderly, stupid and rural’. The truth is that the political opposition to the current government is not able to win over the trust of the poorest and most marginalised part of the electorate, i.e. those who live in the rural areas and provincial towns. From our side, we shouldn’t forget either those left behind by the EU Single Market.”

EU double-standards

However, the Italian MEP reserved her biggest criticism for the European Commission, accusing them of a ‘pick and choose’ policy in dealing with EU member states which break the rule of law:

“The struggle for the rule of law is right and proper and I support it. However, I exhort Vice-President Frans Timmermans to also address the countries which are generally spared from criticism in this regard.”

“Having listened to what he said about the protests that took place in August in Bucharest, Mr Timmermans described the shocking images, peaceful demonstrators beaten by the police, inquires to be open a soon as possible. Yet, I didn’t hear the same words when the peaceful, pro-independence voters of Catalonia were equally beaten by the police and when their leaders were jailed.”

“I wonder why Romania is so strictly monitored and condemned - but not Spain,” she concluded.

MEPs will vote on the issue in Strasbourg next month.

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