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Europe is watching carefully as Romania starts selecting a new chief prosecutor and a new head for the anti-corruption directorate.
Romania's Justice Ministry has started selection procedures for a new chief prosecutor and a new head of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, the DNA.
Both actions are widely seen as posing an important test of the government's seriousness in clamping down on corruption.
The ministry is to choose the prosecutors by October 4, taking into consideration a series of standards, such as their visions about how these institutions should be organized, and also her or his motivation, conduct and integrity.
The outcome of the nominations is anxiously awaited both by local experts and by the European Union.
“It will be especially important that nominations for the posts of general prosecutor and chief prosecutor of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate are conducted in a fair and transparent way,” the European Commission stated on Monday.
Political analyst Marian Trifi says the government must be careful not to politicize the nominations.
“There is a need for clear and solid criteria in nominating new prosecutors, as this is the only way to really reform the justice system,” he said.
Romania is still considered one of the most corrupt states in the European Union and has made only limited progress in fighting graft and organised crime since it joined the EU in 2007.
Romania has drawn repeated criticism from the European Commission for its failure to tackle the problem.
But in recent months, the number of high-ranking officials sentenced for graft has increased significantly, including former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and some other ex-ministers.
While the high-level anti-corruption drive was welcomed by EU leaders, the European Commission is still urging the government to work harder towards achieving the objectives set out in the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, CVM.
This was put in place by Brussels to help Romania and Bulgaria improve law enforcement and combat corruption.
The last report, published on 18 July, was extremely critical of Romania.
It said that steps by Victor Ponta's centre-left government to impeach President Traian Basescu "raise serious concern with regard to observing the key principles of democracy.
"Political challenges to court rulings, the undermining of the Constitutional Court, the reversal of established procedures and the suppression of key elements of democratic control put in question the government's... respect for the supremacy of the law and independent judicial supervision," it added.
The report's critical tone suggests that the European Commission will continue its current monitoring of judicial reforms in Romania and Bulgaria, a process set up to combat fraud in the EU newcomers.
The next CVM report will be published in December and will focus on Romania only.
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