Romania’s Constitutional Court has ruled that a decision by the Luxembourg-headquartered European Court of Justice (ECJ) cannot be applied without first amending the country's constitution.
This means, de facto, that Romania, like Poland before it, has called into question the primacy of European law over national law, Belga news agency reported on Friday.
The ECJ had ruled on Tuesday that, in certain situations, Romanian courts should ignore decisions handed down by the country’s Constitutional Court if the latter’s decisions lead to systemic impunity in cases related to corruption or other crimes that could hurt the European Union’s financial interests.
Romania’s Constitutional Court reacted on Thursday by ruling that the ECJ’s decision could not be applied in the country without amending the constitution.
This imbroglio relates to a case brought by Romania’s highest court, which had condemned many former ministers and parliamentarians for VAT fraud and corruption in the management of European funds. The Constitutional Court had quashed the convictions on procedural grounds. As a result, the case is likely to be delayed and could ultimately exceed the statute of limitations.
Romania has been in the European Commission’s spotlight ever since joining the EU in 2007 since it failed, at the time, to meet all its targets in the fight against corruption and organised crime.
The country has made progress, thanks mainly to its national anti-corruption unit, but in recent years, the situation has been stagnating, according to anti-government critics.
One of the reasons cited for the stagnation is the existence of the Section for the Investigation of Offences committed within the Judiciary, SIIJ, created by the then social democratic government which, in 2018, granted the SIIJ the power to investigate judges and prosecutors.
The European Commission has long called for the SIIJ to be scrapped.