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Journal Article

15 Years of Anti-Corruption in Romania: Augmentation, Aberration and Acceleration


Mendelski,  Martin
Politische Ökonomie der europäischen Integration, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Mendelski, M. (2021). 15 Years of Anti-Corruption in Romania: Augmentation, Aberration and Acceleration. European Politics and Society, 22(2), 237-258. doi:10.1080/23745118.2020.1729051.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-043A-5
Romania’s criminal prosecution of corruption is a controversial topic. While advocates praise the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) for its increasing results, critics voice concerns over the abusive and excessive manner how the fight against corruption is conducted. Is Romania’s anti-corruption battle an impressive success or rather a worrisome excess? The article aims to resolve this controversy by assessing anti-corruption activity conceptually and empirically. First, an evaluation scheme of anti-corruption activity – the anti-corruption evaluation chain – is developed, which distinguishes between three stages: 1. Input (capacity), 2. Process (fairness, reasonableness) and 3. Output (results). Second, each dimension is measured empirically by relying on a new set of quantitative indicators and qualitative empirical evidence (e.g. analysis of ECHR judgments, interviews with magistrates). The findings indicate that Romania’s fight against corruption has resulted in the augmentation of capacity (e.g. human and financial resources), the acceleration of results (e.g. increasing number of indicted, prosecuted and convicted persons) and aberration from the principles of fair trial and reasonableness, i.e. proportionality. Overall, Romania’s criminal prosecution of corruption has derailed into an over-zealous struggle for a ‘noble cause’ which itself has violated individual rights, the principles of fairness and proportionality, procedural integrity and the rule of law.