Ciolacu and Ciucă posing as saviors of the nation after blocking 3.2…

Ciolacu and Ciucă posing as saviors of the nation after blocking 3.2 billion from the PNRR / Romanian political wiseguys had a little surprise at the EU ATM

The PSD and PNL fought for almost a year in Parliament to empty the integrity whistleblower law of its content, but the Romanian trick didn’t work in Brussels. The European Commission blocked the second tranche of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), worth €3.2 billion, partly because of the poor way in which the governing coalition transposed a European directive on whistleblowers. To save EU money and convince Brussels that the government has understood what it has to do, Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă himself and PSD President Marcel Ciolacu have signed a bill to remove the typical Romanian tricks from the already enacted law.

By their gesture, Ciucă and Ciolacu show us that when there is political will, any law can be corrected and improved. But this political will has been completely lacking for almost a year. What is more, the two party leaders not only condoned but encouraged to the maximum the mutilation of the law in Parliament. Why did they do it? Most probably under pressure from local barons, mayors, and county council chiefs.

They all want to feast on the billions made available by the EU from the NRRP, but without following the EU rules. In this case, Brussels officials have set up mechanisms, including whistleblowers, to encourage anonymous reporting of breaches of the law in the spending of EU funds, as an extra guarantee that the money is handled as correctly as possible.

Romanian politicians have transposed the directive in such a way as to discourage anonymous reporting as much as possible, or have introduced formulas into the law that leave room for arbitrary rejection of integrity complaints.

  • G4Media.ro wrote today that the amendment proposed by PSD and PNL leaders would make it impossible to arbitrarily reject anonymous integrity complaints, as the current law allows. Thus, the law in force, which has aroused the displeasure of the European Commission, provides in Article 6, paragraph 2, that „the report that does not include the name, surname, contact details or signature of the whistleblower in the public interest shall be examined and resolved to the extent that it contains substantiated indications of violations of the law”. However, the European Commission and part of civil society complained that the wording „serious indications” introduced arbitrariness into the process of dealing with anonymous reports. Now, the draft tabled by Ciucă and Ciolacu replaces the formula „serious indications of breaches of the law” with „indications of breaches of the law”. In short, the term „well-founded”, which used to give mayors or local barons the opportunity to arbitrarily reject complaints, disappears.

It is hard to believe that Marcel Ciolacu and Nicolae Ciucă were not perfectly aware all this time what their parliamentarians were doing. They knew very well, but they completely lacked the political will at the top of the state to have a whistleblower law in line with the EU directive. The best proof that this is the case is the moment last summer when European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova was cruelly humiliated in Bucharest. Jourova had come to Bucharest to monitor issues such as freedom of the press, the rule of law and, explicitly, the implementation of the whistleblower directive.

  • „We have introduced a new law at EU level to give whistleblowers across the EU greater protection. It provides a high level of protection for whistleblowers who report breaches of EU law. It establishes, for example, secure reporting channels and protects whistleblowers against dismissal or other forms of reprisals. With this, we want to support people who are prepared to take the risk of blowing the whistle on serious breaches of EU law,” Jourová explains in an interview with Freedom. 

In an unprecedented act of defiance, Parliament voted last summer while Jourová was in Bucharest on a draft law transposing the EU whistleblower directive, but in a form that would discourage whistleblowers in public institutions or companies from reporting corruption or breaches of the law. So the law voted in Romania was exactly the opposite of what the European Commission expected.

What Ciucă and Ciolacu failed to understand then: political power may be with them, but the money is with Jourová

I wrote at the time that „if the law is passed in its current form, the suspension of European funds granted to Romania is inevitable. Thus, the development chances of an entire country will be compromised because of the greed and stupidity of some politicians who do not understand that they cannot do what they want with other people’s money and that they cannot steal it without really being accountable to anyone”.

The President turned the law over to Parliament, where it was mutilated a second time under the indulgent eyes of the same Ciolacu and Ciucă and to the despair of NGOs. The rushed bill of the PNL and PSD leaders passed the Senate today and will now be passed by the Chamber of Deputies to release the 3.2 billion euros that were blocked exactly as we predicted last summer. It remains to be seen whether they will be released once the law is corrected.

Ciolacu and Ciucă should also have known that Romanian trickery no longer works in Brussels, where all officials know well the lesson learned from Romanian politicians: „EU money is good, but its rules are not”. When it comes to its money, the EU is very good. When it comes to making reforms, suddenly Brussels is bad and the Commission is attacking national sovereignty.

Brussels has understood very well that linking EU money to reforms will cut a little more of the nerve and demagoguery of politicians, especially in Eastern Europe, where the EU is treated like an ATM. Romanian politicians, the same as Viktor Orban of Hungary, only understand what the EU means when Brussels suddenly pulls billions of euros out from under their noses.

Until then, they try every trick in the book to get the money out of the ATM as gently as possible in hopes that no one sees them when they pocket it.


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