Romania In Hungary’s Footsteps: Different Victor, Same Strategy


On January 1, 2012 with an ammended Constitution in place, a once praised EU accession candidate, Hungary, proved that rule of law and consolidated judicial institutions are not at all irreversible. A new shift of power brought to Budapest the necessary political power that allowed Viktor Orbán and the FIDESZ government to silence the Hungarian Constitutional Court, one of the strongest and most active Courts in Central and Eastern Europe.

It does not come as surprise, when Romania, considered by EU officials a laggard in fulfilling EU’s conditionality, goes along the same path as Hungary, when deciding to deprive the Romanian Constitutional Court of its powers. Unlike Hungary, Romania remained despite considerable progress in reforming its judiciary a concern for the EU as its political system is plagued by a chronic lack of consensus, with personalized institutional settings and a judiciary that was not allowed by the political powers to reach the same level of independency from the executive as Hungary did. Furthermore, skeptics of Romania’s readiness to join the EU both from the political praxis and academia were proven right when Monica Macovei, a disputed Minister of Justice at home, but considered a reformist force by Brussels was dismissed from her office after the country joined EU in 2007.

Since Romania’s application for EU membership on June 1995, the judiciary suffered a continuous institutional redesign and personnal change according to the interests of successive governments. An excessive legislative process shaped by a ‘copy and paste’ method of Western legislative and institutional models and complex reform packages adopted by the subsequent governments in a hasty manner through votes of confidence and emergency ordinances eliminated a critical discussion and political consensus on the quality of the reforms ...

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