Romania's EU Presidency Overshadowed by Corruption Cases

Romania took control of the Council of the EU's rotating presidency on January 1 and will be responsible for ensuring the continuity of the EU's work until June, reported DW. 

The former Communist country only joined the EU in January 2007 and has been at odds with Brussels regarding the rule of law, separation of powers and corruption.

This week, the country's most powerful politician, Liviu Dragnea, brought a case to the European Court of Justice in relation to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) claim that €21 million ($24.15 million) was fraudulently paid to Romanian officials from 2001-2012.

The payments involved a road construction firm called Tel Drum, and last November, investigative journalists in Romania claimed they had found documents which linked Dragnea to Tel Drum. Dragnea was also head of a county council in the south of Romania at the time.

Anti-corruption prosecutors in Romania are investigating if Dragnea set up an organized crime group with other officials and forged documents to illicitly obtain EU funds. The 56-year-old Dragnea is banned from political office because of a conviction for vote-rigging, but he still plays a major role in the country's political life as leader of the Social Democratic Party.

EU auditors report weaknesses

On Thursday, the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg reported that anti-fraud policy across the bloc needed "to be reformed to improve the fight against fraud affecting the EU budget."

The current fraud investigation system has "inherent weaknesses," the ECA said. The European Commission "lacks comprehensive information on the scale, nature and causes of fraud," the auditors asserted.

Between 2002 and 2016, the auditors estimated that OLAF found...

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