(Civil Society Development Foundation) The ‘Plesoianu Proposal’ is a legislative proposal radically changing Governmental Ordinance 26/2000 regulating association and foundations, status by 05/07/2018

Legal Procedure in the Romanian Senate, finalized through tacit adoption

21/03/2017, Liviu Plesoianu, PSD deputy, submits the legislative proposal in the Senate, as the first competent chamber. Besides Plesoianu, some, but not all, official documents specify that Serban Nicolae, PSD senator, is a co-initiator.   The Senate legislative process on this law is available here (RO): https://senat.ro/legis/lista.aspx?nr_cls=L140&an_cls=2017.

Before the plenary vote, the proposal needs several legislative opinions:

  • 25/08/2017, The (Mihai Tudose) Government issues a negative opinion on the proposal, arguing especially the existence of a specific governmental project to update the legislation on associations and foundations, but also mentioning the negative effects of some of the Plesoianu articles. The opinion is available here (RO): https://senat.ro/legis/PDF/2017/17L140PV.pdf;
  • 30/05/2017, The Human Rights Commission issues a negative opinion, available here (RO): https://senat.ro/legis/PDF/2017/17L140ca7.pdf;
  • 07/06/2017, The Commission for Equal Chances issues a positive opinion, but only with some amendments. The opinion is available here (RO): https://senat.ro/legis/PDF/2017/17L140ca15.pdf;

Reaction: 09/06/2017, seventeen major Romanian NGOs express their grave concerns with the proposal, in an open letter to the Government and the political leaders of the governing coalition. The letter is available here (RO): https://www.hotnews.ro/stiri-esential-21810105-ong-uri-propunerea-modificare-legislatiei-functionare-organizatiilor-neguvernamentale-implica-parghii-control-politic.htm?nomobile. The letter was left unanswered.

20/11/2017, The Senate approves the proposal tacitly, failing to actually vote on it before the tacit approval deadline expired. Due to the tacit approval, none of the above mentioned amendments proposed in the commissions had any effect. The proposal was thus approved exactly as submitted by its initiator(s) on 21/03/2017. Although the Senate was in session on the date of the tacit approval and the proposal was on the agenda, the political opposition accused the governmental parties of leaving the Senate without the necessary quorum, exactly before reaching this point in the day’s agenda. More information is available here(RO): http://www.mediafax.ro/politic/senatul-a-adoptat-tacit-legea-privind-ong-urile-initiata-de-serban-nicolae-si-liviu-plesoianu-16826275.

Reaction: 22/11/2017, Over 70 Romanian NGOs launch a new open letter to the PSD leadership, demanding the rejection of the proposal. The letter is available here (RO, EN):  https://www.stiri.ong/ong/civic-si-campanii/scrisoare-deschisa-a-societatii-civile-organizate-catre-conducerea-psd.

Legal procedure in the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, ongoing

04/12/2017, Following the tacit adoption by the Senate, the legislative process starts  in the Chamber of Deputies, the decisional chamber on this law. Unlike in the Senate, there will be no tacit approval of this law, an actual vote in the plenary is necessary. There is no final deadline for such a vote.  The dedicated legislative webpage is available here (RO): http://www.cdep.ro/pls/proiecte/upl_pck2015.proiect?idp=16713.

Reaction: 11/12/2017, The Expert Council on NGO Law of the Council of Europe INGO Conference issues a strongly negative opinion on the proposal. The council points to serious shortcomings as regards compliance with international standards. The opinion is available here(EN).

Before the plenary vote, the proposal needs several legislative opinions:

  • 14/12/2017, The Human Rights Commission issues a negative opinion, available here (RO): http://www.cdep.ro/comisii/drepturile_omului/pdf/2017/av506.pdf;
  • The Commission for Equal Chances should have issued an opinion by 14/12/2017, but this opinion is still missing;
  • The Judiciary Commission, the main rapporteur on this proposal, should have also issued a report by 12/12/2017. The Plesoianu proposal was on this commission agenda on 18/12/2017, but the debate was delayed to the absence of the above mentioned opinion of the Commission for Equal Chances.

Reaction: 18/01/2018, The Fundamental Rights Agency  makes a negative mention of the proposal in its report on “Challenges facing civil society organizations working on human rights in the EU”, available here (EN): http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2018/challenges-facing-civil-society-orgs-human-rights-eu.

Reaction: 06/02/2018, The Open Society Justice Initiative launches a report on the proposal, supported by over 40 Romanian and international NGOs. The report states the proposal disrespects EU law and is available here (EN): https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/briefing-papers/european-union-law-and-romanian-draft-law-1402017-associations-and-foundations .

Reaction: 16/03/2018, The Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR issue a common opinion on the proposal, stating the rules concerning NGO reporting should be removed. The opinion also suggests other changes and the full text is available here (EN): http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-AD(2018)004-e

Reaction: 27/06/2018, The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly adopts Resolution 2226 regarding new restrictions on NGO activities. The resolution includes a call on Romania “to reject the recently proposed draft laws imposing additional financial reporting obligations on NGOs unless they are amended according to the recommendations of the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR”. The resolution is available here(EN): http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-DocDetails-EN.asp?FileID=24943&lang=2.

27/06/2018, The President of the Chamber of Deputies, also the President of PSD, called for an extraordinary session of the Chamber of Deputies, between 02/07/2018 – 19/07/2018. On the session’s agenda, besides the review of the Criminal Code, the Plesoianu proposal was also included. The agenda is available here: http://www.cdep.ro/pdfs/decizii/decizie_sez_xtr_201807.pdf.

  • 03/07/2018, The Judiciary Commission included the Plesoianu proposal on its agenda. While several NGO representatives took part in the meeting expressing their demand for the proposal to be rejected, Plesoianu announced he would like to submit some amendments which are not yet drafted. The debate was thus postponed for a few days, so that Plesoianu has the time to formally submit such amendments. Following only Plesoianu’s statements and no written version of these amendments, they would slightly alleviate the NGO reporting burden, but it is unlikely they would adapt the proposal to the Venice Commission requirements.

Download the document here: the development of the Plesoianu initiative

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