"The [ruling coalition] USL's attack on the rule of law is steering us away from Schengen," argues daily România Liberă. The paper blames the USL for the severity of the European Commission's report regarding the country's current deficit in justice and in democracy. This "failure" is the result of a rapid escalation of events based on —

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... a series of abusive, unconstitutional decisions culminating with the publication of emergency decrees in forbidden areas such as restricting the powers of the Constitutional Court (banning it from ruling on Parliamentary decisions) or the changes to the referendum law.

As for daily Adevărul, it notes that the European Commission report comes within the framework of the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification (MCV) "outlining the conditions under which our entry into the EU and that of Bulgaria was agreed to in 2007." It further notes that the tone of the report is worrisome —

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Romania has been handed the most critical report on justice since its entry, basic European values are not respected; the confidence of the EU is undermined, monitoring will be intensified with more routine evaluation missions sent to Bucharest.

In a leader article, the Bucharest daily stresses that the continuous progress made over the past few years was destroyed in just a few days and blames Prime Minister Victor Ponta, interim President Crin Antonescu and media mogul Dan Voiculescu —

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What has the Ponta-Antonescu-Voiculescu trio managed to do? To convince Europe that our fragile democracy can be destroyed with a snap of the fingers. And that the rule of law is an illusion which vanishes under the assault of emergency decrees. [...] This image will be hard to erase. Even several years from now, when we try to enter the salons of high society, we will be reminded of the horrors of July 2012.

As for Bulgarian daily Sega, it notes that "the European Union's devastating report did not prevent [Interior Minister Tsvetan] Tsvetanov from swaggering." A few hours before the report was published, speaking in Parliament, Tsvetanov made a "desperate attempt" to attenuate the criticism from Brussels —

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'We have implemented 100% of the European recommendations', the Minister said. But the report states something quite different. It says that organised crime remains Bulgaria's principal challenge.

Faced with what many consider as "the worse report since the country's entry in 2007," some, like the daily Standart, look for the silver lining —

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The sermon from Brussels takes us away from Schengen. But on the other hand, it shields us from a wave of illegal immigrants.

A member of the centre-right GERB party of Prime Minister Bojko Borisov, Euro MP Andreï Kovatchev for his part sees "good news" in the fact that Bulgaria and Romania are now treated in separate reports. In fact, the unprecedented criticism levelled at Romania is keeping Bulgarian commentators busy wondering about this reversal in situations. Previously, Bulgaria was always lagging behind Romania. But for another daily, Troud

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To claim that we are doing better because our neighbours are going under is hardly a truly European attitude.