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February 24, 2021

Romania wants 3 week extension of property damage law deadline

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, visiting Romania, said he was glad the Government was carefully considering laws before bringing them into force and noted it was important to do the same also regarding the adoption of the property restitution law.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta said yesterday, after the meeting he had had with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE), Thorbjorn Jagland, that the Government would ask the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to consent to an extension of the deadline for the adoption of the new law on damages for nationalise properties, so that it had enough time to address all its provisions in detail. ‘There was the deadline of April 12 by which Romania was supposed to adopt the appropriate legislation for the regime of the restitution of properties. I appreciated the constructive position of both the European Court and specialised structures of the CoE in this extremely delicate matter for Romania, and, while last year was a year with many political turbulences, this year should bring a final solution, compliant with European standards in the field’, said the PM. Ponta also noted that had also been one of the most important subjects he and the Council of Europe Secretary General had talked about, both recognising the importance of adopting a solution in agreement with ECHR standards. ‘

We decided together that the best way was to have a detailed debate on the text before the law is adopted. If the specialised departments have any observations on the bill, they must and shall be considered in the final legal text’, Victor Ponta said. He added that, in April, Government officials would go to Strasbourg for talks with ECHR specialists to agree n the final form of the law. On March 14, at the beginning of the Cabinet meeting, the PM said the Executive would ask for a vote of confidence for the property restitution law in Parliament, on March 26.

Senate Speaker Crin Antonescu also said yesterday that the Government and the supporting parliamentary majority were looking for the fairest and most effective solution regarding the property restitution, and pointed out there was a consensus in USL on the ‘over-taxation’ by 85 per cent of anyone who had bought litigious rights over nationalised properties. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, in turn stressed that it was important that the law was thoroughly studied ‘to avoid all sorts of subsequent disputes in the Court of Strasbourg’.  Jagland also said he could see the political situation in Romania had been stabilised and that steps were being taken towards a constitutional review, seeking separate and important roles for every structure of the state. ‘And I believe it is very important that the representatives of the Council of Europe can contribute their expertise to this process of changing the Constitution so that it is not only a platform for all political structures engaged in the process, but also represent the will or structures of the Council of Europe’, was the CoE secretary general’s conclusion. On the constitutional review subject, PM Ponta said the Government would seek the technical assistance of the Venice Commission in the process and that he would make a formal request, also asking the heads of the Parliament to do the same.

The premier pointed out he wanted the Constitution review to be a process open not just to the civil society, but also Romania’s European partners. Yesterday, CoE Secretary General Jagland was also going to see the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Valeriu Zgonea, the Minister of Justice, Mona  Pivniceru and President Traian Basescu.

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