A Laura Codruta Kövesi nomination as EU Prosecutor would be the Romanian Socialists’ worst nightmare, since she is familiar with the most important of their corruption dossiers, especially those concerning the boss of the party, Liviu Dragnea.
The negotiations on Wednesday 20 March between the Parliament team and the Council ended inconclusively, and a new round is to take pace one week later, 27 March, in Strasbourg. The EU Parliament’s negotiators, who support Kövesi, try to turn to their advantage the fact that theirs is a popular mandate, as they are elected and their procedure of choosing Kövesi has been public, while the Council does not have a clear mandate.
Kövesi is supported by the Parliament, following the votes in the LIBE and CONT committees, and she also has the backing of the EPP, the strongest group in the Parliament. The EP’s position is clear: Laura Codruta Kövesi, who was elected by the LIBE and Budget Control Committees (CONT), is the candidate supported by MEPs. The official announcement to this effect, also communicated to the Romanian government, was made on 8 March by the EP speaker Antonio Tajani.
On the other hand, the Council’s “indicative vote” gave Frenchman Jean-Francois Bohnert 50 points, followed by Kövesi and German candidate Andres Ritter with 29 points each.
The Romanian ambassador to the EU, Luminita Odobescu, did not support Kövesi, offering the vote to the French candidate. Bulgaria, at the insistence of Romania, also voted against her.
Two weeks ago, Vera Jourova, European Justice Commissioner, said the pressures on Kövesi were intolerable and that the selection process must be “fair and without attempts to discredit”.
In Bucharest, the government, through the newly created Special Section for the Investigation of Magistrates, tried to block Kövesi by indicting her in two different criminal cases that seem trumped-up and do not stand serious scrutiny.
But there are other methods for slowing down things, and the government doesn’t seem to lack originality. The Justice minister Tudorel Toader issued one month ago an emergency ordinance announcing that the selection procedure for the three Romanian prosecutors who will apply to work at the European Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) can no longer be postponed and that the selection would take place on March 22.
On Wednesday 20 March, as the haggling between Parliament and Council ended inconclusively, the Justice Ministry postponed the procedure ” for a later date to be announced on the website of the Ministry of Justice.”
Although Tudorel Toader had issued a ordinance that does not meet the EU’s requirements for the establishment of EPPO, in order to place a suitable prosecutor, he now has now changed his mind and postponed the procedure, in order to slow down the EPPO. Romania doesn’t seem to want the office to be operational in April, and so it doesn’t designate yet its own representative in the college of 22 prosecutors of the future EPPO that are meant to assist the European Prosecutor.
Some Socialists are even openly venting their frustration now, with the maverick Socialist senator Șerban Nicolae telling Radio Free Europe: „We were too quick in joining the EPPO”… and can’t get out now anymore.