EU Corruption Report Gets the Middle Finger in Romania

(Bloomberg) -- A top politician in Romania just gave the European Union the finger.

Following a report from the bloc that slammed the Balkan state for democratic backsliding, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Florin Iordache said the government would continue a drive to overhaul the judiciary. The legislative push, combined with a campaign to remove prosecutors who are cracking down on graft, is at the center of criticism that Romania is trying to ease pressure on crooked politicians.

In a speech at the assembly, Iordache castigated the EU’s executive arm, ending by raising both middle fingers as he stormed off the podium.

“We’ll go on despite all the opposition from the European Commission,” said the speaker, who last year advocated a decree that triggered Romania’s biggest protests since the fall of communism. “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 speech was the most defiant yet from an official from Romania’s ruling coalition, which has drawn criticism from the EU and the U.S. for its efforts to defang a fight against graft in one of the bloc’s most corrupt members. It also echoed rebellious rhetoric from Hungary and Poland, two other ex-communist newcomers to the EU where nationalist leaders are challenging the bloc’s standards on the rule-of-law.

Iordache is a close ally of Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party, who has been blocked from becoming prime minister by two criminal convictions and would benefit from laws easing punishments for corruption. Iordache said lawmakers and government officials are assessing whether to challenge the EU report at the European Court of Justice.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.