European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and First Vice-President Frans Timmermans are “concerned” about the independence of Romania’s judicial system and its capacity to fight corruption.

In a joint statement, the two men said they are closely following developments in European Union member state Romania.

“The independence of Romania’s judicial system and its capacity to fight corruption effectively are essential cornerstones of a strong Romania in the European Union,” the said, adding that the irreversibility of the progress achieved so far under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) is an essential condition to phase out the Mechanism.

However, in its latest report under the Mechanism in November 2017, the Commission highlighted that Romania’s government and parliament need to take proper account of consultations in the legislative process on the justice laws.

The Commission also made clear that a process in which judicial independence and the opinion of the judiciary is valued and given due account.

The Commission called on the Romanian parliament to rethink the course of action proposed, to open up the debate in line with the Commission’s recommendations and to build a broad consensus on the way forward.

As reported by the Associated Press (AP), Romania has remained under Commission monitoring since joining the bloc in 2007 to ensure that it fights corruption and organised crime. The monitoring was intended to last three years.

Last weekend, tens of thousands of Romanians protested against legislation that critics say will make it harder to prosecute crime and high-level corruption.