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    EU Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans addresses the media on migration at EU Commission headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, April 6, 2016.

    Romanian Controversial Decree Signals Reversal of Corruption Fight Progress

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    The ruling of the Romanian authorities on reducing penalties for corruption signals that Bucharest is backtracking on fighting corruption, First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans said Thursday, adding that it risks to go back to "what the situation was in the past."

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — He stressed that while the European Commission could not interfere in state's internal affairs, the issue should be discussed as the consequences that the Romanian authorities would face might "not be positive."

    "In our perception the emergency ordinance and the draft legislation seem to indicate another direction — back… I call upon authorities of Romania to carefully look into what they are doing… I find it difficult to understand why lowering the standards of fighting corruption is in the interest of the Romanian nation," Timmermans addressing the European Parliament.

    "You will not help the situation by turning this into a party-political confrontation," Timmermans added.

    Thousands of people are protesting against the Romanian government amid controversial decrees approved by Bucharest, demanding the resignation of the government led by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu.

    On Tuesday, the country's authorities, formed by the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), issued a controversial emergency decree reducing the penalties for corruption, which would allow several politicians to avoid criminal prosecution. The emergency decree decriminalizes a number offenses and makes abuse of power punishable by incarceration only if the sums involved are higher than $48,000.

    It also approved the amendments to the country’s Criminal Code on pardons and amnesties for certain prisoners, namely those over 60 years old, pregnant women and parents of small children, as well as those who were sentenced for less than five years, excluding the people convicted for criminal and sexual offense.

    The joint statement, issued by the EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Timmermans after the decree's approval, said that the new legislation could "only undermine Romania's reputation in the international community" and may affect "partnerships based on common values, inherent to the guiding principles" of the European Union and NATO.

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