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January 21, 2022

Statute of MPs once again ruled unconstitutional

The Constitutional Court (CC) decided for the second time that the Statute of MPs is unconstitutional, sending the law back to Parliament.

Constitutional Court judges partially admittedPDL’s second appeal against the Statute of MPs, ruling that banning MPs that find themselves in a conflict of interests from attending the works of the Parliament is unconstitutional. As a consequence, the Statute will return to Parliament again in order to be set in line with the CC’s decision. This is the second time when the CC returns the law to Parliament. On March 20, the joint plenum of the two Chambers adopted the Statute of MPs with 360 votes in favor and 38 against, in the form established by the juridical and statute commissions, the law being reexamined as a consequence of the Constitutional Court’s February 27 ruling. That same day, PDL filed a new appeal at the Constitutional Court, asking for the law’s constitutionality to be verified. The Democrat-Liberals claimed that some provisions included in the statute’s latest form are still unconstitutional.

According to the PDL notification, when putting the Statute of MPs in line with the unconstitutionality objections raised by the Court after the first appeal, Parliament maintained the disciplinary sanction for MPs that find themselves in conflict of interests, the change made being simply to lower the punishment from 6 months to 1 month. “The lowering of the sanction to one month does not make the adopted text constitutional, because the unconstitutional blocking of the mandate exists irrespective whether the period is 6 months or one month,” the new appeal filed the PDL read.

PDL also argued that some stipulations included in the statute’s latest form were introduced after the Court established that they are unconstitutional. PDL referred to the fact that the abrogation of all legislative provisions that run counter to the statute was maintained. At the same time, PDL claimed that the implications of enforcing such a stipulation cannot be known at this moment because the Legislative Council, the Parliament’s special consultative body, was not consulted first.  Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea stated yesterday that the CC’s decision was expected, Parliament being set to respect the deadlines this time. “I told you from the start… Is this a novelty? Didn’t I tell you that the statute is unconstitutional and that I asked… because we introduced in it and analyzed areas that were not in our sphere of competence? When you break the rules of the game of course the Constitutional Court sanctions you,” Zgonea added. He pointed out that this time he will personally chair the plenum meeting in which the Statute of MPs will be debated in order to avoid a repeat of the “errors” that the MPs made. “Last time the approaches were emotional,” Zgonea explained. The Speaker of the Chamber also pointed out that the CC’s objections will be respected, the sanction for a conflict of interests becoming just a financial one, going as far as 20 per cent of the MP’s indemnity.

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