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According to the new Statute of the MPs adopted yesterday by the Parliament, the request to detain or search a Senator or a Deputy will have to “have the case pointed out by the Penal Code and to include concrete and solid reasons justifying the preventive arrest or the search.”
Parliament adopted yesterday, with 309 votes in favor, 56 against and two abstentions, the modifications brought to the Statute of MPs, in the form they had after going through the Statute Commission on Monday evening. The votes were cast at the end of heated debates within the two Chambers’ joint plenum, after the MPs of Dan Diaconescu’s People’s Party (PPDD) left the room complaining that “the modifications were established at night” and they were not given the report in time. “The PPDD group considers that the debate of a report at 1 AM is unnatural to say the least,” Tudor Barbu, leader of PPDD Senators told Mediafax. On the other hand, Speaker of the Lower Chamber Valeriu Zgonea told the PPDD MPs that they have “to stop playing and to be responsible MPs without using doublespeak.” In what concerns the modifications brought to the draft law, Zgonea pointed out first of all that there is a financial constraint and an attempt was made through the changes brought for the office of MP to be conducted “honorably.” According to him, “common sense things” were introduced in the Statute, stating on the other hand that the problem concerning the immunity of MPs cannot be changed because it is stipulated in the Constitution. Nevertheless, the result of the vote did not come as a surprise for anyone, considering that the Liberal MPs voted alongside the Social-Democrats in favor of the modifications brought to the draft law. “The Statute Commission has voted through consensus, so the representatives of the ruling power and the opposition, a report containing several amendments concerning issues of rephrasing rather than issues of the essence, a report that the PNL groups debated and agreed with. (…) All provisions referring to incompatibilities and to the conflict of interests are included either in already existing laws or in the Constitution. What we will vote today (yesterday – editor’s note) does not contain anything above and beyond the constitutional provisions concerning immunity,” Puiu Hasotti, leader of PNL Senators, stated before the results of the vote were announced.
On the other hand, opposition MPs had announced, through Mihai Stanisoara, leader of PDL MPs within the Lower Chamber, that they do not support the modifications concerning the MPs’ immunity, the conflict of interests and the waiver of absences, arguing that they do not wish to see the MPs being privileged when compared to other citizens, local representatives and officials.
Definition of conflict of interests, eliminated
The Statute Commission decided on Monday evening to maintain the form of the draft modifications brought to the Statute of MPs in the case of requests to arrest, detain or search MPs. Thus, the draft law adopted by the Commission points out that the request to detain, arrest or search an MP “has to have the case pointed out in the Penal Code and to include concrete and solid reasons that justify the adoption of the preventive arrest or the search.” On the basis of this request, MPs can decide at the level of the special commission, within 3 days’ time, what recommendation to give to the plenum of the concerned Chamber of Parliament. Likewise, the Statute Commission proposed an amendment that refers to the abrogation of any provisions to the contrary in the case of MPs. Another important issue maintained by the Statute Commission refers to the amendment brought by Tudor Chiuariu, the Chairman of the Senate’s Juridical Commission. The amendment eliminates the provision according to which “an MP’s term expires when the court ruling that notes the existence of unjustified assets and of a state of incompatibility remains final and irrevocable.” On the other hand, the definition of the conflict of interests in the case of MPs was eliminated from the final form of the Commission’s report, the representatives of the Parliamentary groups meeting on Monday evening being unable to reach a compromise on this issue. The definition of the conflict of interests in the case of MPs will be settled after talks with the representatives of the National Integrity Agency (ANI) and of the European Commission. On the other hand, the Statute Commission decided to maintain the provision according to which MPs can hold offices or engage in activities in the education, scientific research and intellectual creation domains, as well as in other domains established by law. Another amendment adopted on Monday evening maintains the provision that forbids MPs to hire relatives at their Parliamentary offices, but allows the re-hiring of previous employees when obtaining a new seat in Parliament.In what concerns the MPs’ expenditures on transportation, the same Commission adopted an amendment according to which the MPs that choose to give up using an auto vehicle can benefit from a flat sum that would cover their expenditures within their constituency.