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S&Ds: We need an independent way to monitor democracy and the rule of law situation in EU member states

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Justice & Home Affairs
The European Parliament today voted on a resolution on the rule of law situation in Romania. S&D MEPs supported the resolution, but again stressed the need for the creation of an independent mechanism to monitor the situation of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in each member state. The Parliament will vote on a resolution tomorrow calling on the European Commission to create such a mechanism.
 
S&D Group vice-president responsible for the report on Romania Josef Weidenholzer said:
“A well-functioning democracy and the rule of law are essential for all EU member states. We recognise that there are issues of concern in Romania - particularly regarding changes to the legal package dealing with judiciary reforms. We have stressed to the Romanian government the need to follow the Venice Commission’s recommendations on this issue and were pleased that the Romanian Prime Minister confirmed that this would be the case when she spoke at the European Parliament last month. However, we now wait to see that this is done in full.
“We also insisted that a reference in the resolution was made to the influence of the Romanian intelligence services over the judiciary in the country, following revelations of secret protocols that allowed wiretapping by secret service agents without clear oversight. Clear rules on monitoring the work of intelligence services is essential to ensure the rule of law.
“We have fought to ensure a balanced resolution, but on some issues we disagreed with the final approved text. On media freedom, we thought it was important to stress that although Reporters Without Borders (RSF) do recognise certain issues, Romania is not seen by them as one of the major concerns in the EU. In the World Press Freedom Index* that RSF produces every year, Romania ranks 44th, ahead of the United States (45th) and significantly higher than other EU states, notably Hungary (73rd), and the worst performing EU member state, Bulgaria (111th).”
 
S&D Group spokesperson for civil liberties, justice and home affairs, Birgit Sippel MEP,  added:
“Our Group has been pushing for a long time for the creation of a truly independent mechanism to monitor the situation of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in each member state. These principles are the building blocks on which the European Union is founded and should not be used for political point scoring. Tomorrow we will vote on a report calling on the European Commission to finally come forward with proposals on this independent mechanism.
“Every year we want to see an evidence-based review of the democracy, rule of law, and fundamental rights situations in each member state. This should be followed by country-specific recommendations and parliamentary debates. This is the only way of ensuring that such an important issue is dealt with in a fair, transparent, and non-political manner.”

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