The European Union's executive arm has warned Romania against backtracking on the fight against corruption.
"The fight against corruption needs to be advanced, not undone,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his deputy, Frans Timmermans, said in a joint statement on February 1. “We are following the latest developments in Romania with great concern."
The statement comes after the Social Democrat-led government of Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu issued on January 31 an emergency decree decriminalizing a number of graft offenses. It said the changes were needed to get the Criminal Code in line with recent Constitutional Court rulings.
But more than 10,000 people gathered in Bucharest and other cities to protest against the move, shouting "Thieves!" and "Traitors!"
Mariana Ghena, the president of Romania's top judicial watchdog, the Superior Magistrates Council, said she would file a challenge against the decree with the Constitutional Court later on February 1.