Romania has just taken over the EU’s presidency at the beginning of this year; but, due to what she has described as a “hostile environment”, the head of the anti-corruption agency has announced she is stepping down from the role. She will be replaced by Calin Nistor, who is the first deputy chief prosecutor. Anca Jurma has been the head of the agency since July, following the removal of her predecessor.
The role was previously held by Laura Codruța Kövesi, who was dismissed, she claims unfairly, last year by the Romanian government. She was unable to appeal in court against the decision, and has subsequently said she will dispute the decision in the European Court of Human Rights.
Romania has had a number of conflicts with the Commission over judicial reforms, which the EU believes undermines rule of law. The EU wants to see certain laws removed in Romania as part of the battle against corruption. These concerns have been expressed even more in recent months, in the lead up to Romania taking presidency for a six month period, beginning on the 1st January this year.
In a statement on the DNA’s website, she explained: “Since day one of my interim mandate I have underlined that DNA had no targets, but it has an authority stipulated by the law, meaning to counter corruption at the high level through means required by the criminal law. Moreover, I have considered that, as long as there is corruption in Romania, DNA prosecutors must be able, both legally and actually, to investigate files in a professional, honest way, without being intimidated.
I have never been in solidarity and I will never be with abuses, no matter who is committing them. I believe in a clean-hand judiciary. I think we have come too far and I think it is time these practices come to an end. The recent events, including using the sense of a private talk to an unfair purpose and distorting that conversation where I was looking for legal and fair solutions for the proper performance of the institution, have made me consider I don’t have the necessary conditions to continue to carry out this position according to the vision and goals that I have proposed when I took the job“.
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