Judiciary reforms in Romania: progress or democratic backsliding?

Romania’s fight against corruption was in spotlight since the country’s accession negotiations to the European Union have begun. With the creation of specialized institutions to monitor and persecute corruption under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism the aim was to slowly strengthen the judicial system thus protecting it from political interference in a country that is considered to have the highest level of corruption in the EU. The reform propositions by the Ministry of Justice sparked harsh debates between the judiciary and the political bodies, and international actors such as the European Commission expressed its concerns whether the amendments threaten the progress made by the country. Moreover, the dispute over the competences regarding the recall of the head of the National Anticorruption Directorate underline the tension between institutions based on party membership. In this fragile situation judiciary has critical controlling role where independency can be the key.