Romania corruption battle exposes the limits of EU’s influence

Radu Mazare is a showman former Romanian mayor who has been on the cover of Playboy and sparked outrage by wearing Nazi uniform to a fashion show. Now the former top official for the Black Sea resort of Constanta has fled to Madagascar in the face of a corruption charge — and has said he will return only when he stands a chance of a fair trial. His case is part of an escalating battle over graft and governance in Romania that has embroiled many of its leading politicians and the European Commission. Laura Codruta Kovesi, the country’s anti-corruption chief, is under pressure; her supporters fear she is set to be ousted as part of a government overhaul of the justice system. It has triggered street protests and shown the limits of special EU checks on Romania since its EU accession in 2007.

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