Germany urges Romania to push ahead with reforms
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday urged Romania to push ahead with judiciary reforms and promised to help Bucharest make better use of European funds.
"The reforms of the judiciary and of interior affairs are being tackled very courageously but you are still a long way from the end of the road," Merkel said during a press conference with Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc.
"Transparency in this field is very important to German investors," she stressed later, after a meeting with President Traian Basescu.
With bilateral trade topping 7.8 billion euros in the first half of 2010, up by 19 percent on a yearly basis, Germany is Romania's biggest commercial partner and its third-largest foreign investor.
The Chancellor said the co-operation and verification mechanism for the judiciary, imposed by the European Union in order to make sure Romania keeps its promises in this field, is designed to help it make progress.
But as authorities are worried that this monitoring system could delay the country's entry into the European visa-free Schengen zone in 2011, she said this question would be assessed solely in keeping with technical criteria.
"We back Romania's efforts to join the Schengen zone... but we must make sure that visa delivery procedures are not marred by corruption," she said.
Merkel also called on authorities to step up the absorption of European funds, "an important instrument that can help bridge the gap" separating Romania from other EU members.
She admitted that application procedures are quite intricate and promised Germany would assist Romania on this.
Some 20 billion euros are available for Romania until 2013, but analysts say corruption and excessive red-tape are preventing it from using the funds properly.
© 2010 AFP