BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s Senate approved a bill on Wednesday reducing some abuse of power cases in a reminder of efforts to undermine the fight against corruption that sparked major street protests six years ago. Had given.
According to Transparency International, Romania is one of the most corrupt states in the European Union, and Brussels has placed its justice system under special surveillance since joining the EU in 2007. The commission recommended lifting the monitoring mechanism late last year.
The bill, introduced by lawmakers from the three-party coalition government, says abuse of office offenses that cause financial damage of less than 250,000 lei ($55,000) should no longer be punishable.
The bill now goes to the lower house of parliament, which has the final say.
Coalition MPs have said the bill is needed to get the criminal code in line with Constitutional Court rulings. The Court has held that there should be a minimum threshold of abuse of office offenses without specifying any specific level.
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On Wednesday, Marcel Ciolăcu, leader of Romania’s Social Democrats, a coalition partner and the largest party in parliament, said he had asked the Justice Ministry to recommend an adequate limit, adding that his party would approve the level suggested by experts. .
In 2017, the previous Social Democrat government tried to reduce abuse of office offenses for damages of less than 200,000 lei through an emergency decree. At that time, the then leader of the party was facing trial for abuse of office.
The decree drew criticism from chief justices and prosecutors, civil rights groups, diplomats, the European Commission and the US State Department. It also triggered months of nationwide street protests.
An investigation by anti-corruption prosecutors has revealed conflicts of interest, abuse of power, fraud and the awarding of state contracts in exchange for bribes in political parties.
(Reporting by Luiza Illy; Editing by Giles Elgood)
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