verhofstadt38_DANIEL MIHAILESCUAFPGetty Images_mayor Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images

Fight Corruption to Reclaim Europe’s Soul

Laura Codruța Kövesi, the highly effective former head of Romania's anti-corruption office and a candidate to fill a similar role at the EU level, is now the subject of a smear campaign and trumped-up criminal charges. Her case is a perfect example of why Europe needs stronger mechanisms to uphold its values.

BRUSSELS – As the head of Romania’s National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) between 2013 and 2018, Laura Codruța Kövesi presided over hundreds of high-profile convictions and became a darling of the international transparency movement. In a country struggling to build an honest justice system following its 2007 accession to the European Union, she stood out as a dogged advocate for the rule of law.

In July 2018, Kövesi was forced out of the DNA by Romania’s justice minister, Tudorel Toader, at the behest of Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader Liviu Dragnea, whom the DNA convicted in 2015 on charges of campaign fraud. She is now the European Parliament-endorsed candidate to lead the new European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), and yet Dragnea is doing everything he can to discredit her.

Though Dragnea is barred from holding office, his party leads Romania’s coalition government, and a PSD-run watchdog agency has indicted Kövesi on trumped-up corruption charges to prevent her from traveling outside Romania. Dragnea’s cronies claim that Kövesi has exceeded her authority, which is another way of saying that she has been too effective in pursuing corruption in the Romanian political class.

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