The fiery speech from the top official came in response to a damning report from the bloc, which accused the country of backsliding in the fight against corruption. Deputy Speaker Florin Iordache, who also leads the parliamentary commission discussing the judiciary reform, said that the government will carry on with its plans despite the mounting external pressure.
“We'll go on despite all the opposition from the European Commission,” Iordache told the parliament on Wednesday. “We want to be independent, we want to make the decisions according to our constitution and not because of the pressure coming from other quarters.”
The politician then rushed off the podium while extending the central digits of both of his hands. It remained unclear whether the apparent obscene gesture was addressed to the EU or not.
The opposition lawmakers, however, took offense, since Iordache appeared to be pointing at their direction. The official refused to apologize over the incident, claiming that he merely had a “spasm” following the speech and did not make any obscene gestures, according to lawmaker from the Save Romania Union (USR), Iulian Bulai.
On Tuesday, the European Commission released its annual report on the administration of justice in Romania, voicing concerns that the ongoing judiciary reform might jeopardize “the progress” it has made since joining the bloc. Brussels called upon the country's government to “suspend immediately” its judiciary reform and criminal code overhaul, appointing an “anti-corruption prosecutor” instead.
“I regret that Romania has not only stalled its reform process, but also reopened and backtracked on issues where progress was made over the past 10 years,” the First Vice-President of the Commission Frans Timmermans told reporters.
The reform, launched by the ruling Social Democrats party and its allies early in 2017, has attracted much scrutiny from the EU, which expressed fears that it might undermine independence of the country's judiciary system and make it highly politicized. Critics of the reform accuse the government of pushing it through to help politicians accused of corruption and to weaken the country's judiciary. The controversial reform also sparked mass protests across the country, forcing Iordache, who briefly held the minister of justice post early in 2017, to resign.
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