Romania's top court has rejected legislation that would make it more difficult to prosecute lawmakers and make libel a criminal offense after strong criticism from the U.S. and European Union countries.

The Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that draft legislation, which would have given lawmakers and other elected government officials immunity from prosecution in corruption cases while in office and criminalize libel, is unconstitutional and sent the law back to Parliament.

After the Dec. 9 vote, the U.S. called the draft law, "a step away from transparency and rule-of-law" and "a discouraging sign for investors, which will negatively affect Romania's economy."

Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, President Traian Basescu and opposition lawmakers also criticized the vote.