Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission
The EU and the Commission do not have powers with regard to the restitution of property which, in principle, falls under national competence. According to Article 345 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the provisions of the Treaty shall in no way prejudice the rules in Member States governing the system of property ownership. This Article implies that Member States are free to determine the scope of property restitution and the choice of the conditions and institutional modalities under which they agree to restore the property rights of former owners.
The Commission undertook within the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM)(1) to assist Romania to remedy the shortcomings in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption that could prevent an effective application of EC laws, policies and programmes, and prevent Romanians from enjoying their full rights as EU citizens. The Commission regularly verifies progress against four benchmarks set for this purpose and has published reports twice a year since 2007.
The Commission's report(2) which was adopted on 18 July 2012 under the CVM raised serious concerns for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Romania(3). The report includes a number of urgent recommendations, which have already been the subject of commitments made by Prime Minister Ponta.
The Commission will issue a further report under the cooperation and verification mechanism before the end of the year to assess whether its concerns have been addressed and democratic checks and balances have been restored.
Commission Decision 2006/928/EC of 13 December 2006 establishing a mechanism for cooperation and verification of progress in Romania to address specific benchmarks in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption (OJ L 354, 14.12.2006, p. 56).