The Lower Chamber’s Juridical, Agriculture and Environment commissions rejected on Tuesday President Klaus Iohannis’s request to re-examine the Forestry Code. The joint meeting featured a lot of statements for and against the Forestry Code. The talks were also attended by civil society representatives.
Despite receiving promises that they would be given the right to address the meeting, civil society representatives were kept on the sidelines and the votes were cast without them having the right to address the meeting, ‘Gandul’ daily informs.
The re-examination request was rejected with 35 votes in favour of the rejection and 21 against.
The Head of State had asked in his re-examination request for the elimination of the article concerning the 30 per cent upper cap on the purchase or processing of wood logs from the national forestry fund and the furniture industry’s right of pre-emption when it comes to wood log purchases.
President Iohannis also asked for the re-examination of Article 29 that introduced the stipulation that the compiling of forestry commitments is mandatory only for forest fund properties larger than 10 hectares.
PNL representatives backed the re-examination request, while PSD and UDMR opposed it, Mediafax informs.
PNL representatives were irritated by the fact that the parliamentary majority centred on PSD avoided voting any amendment to the Forestry Code.
“We prepared, we prepared six amendments, we prepared to debate this issue, maybe we would vote some, we wouldn’t vote others, but why shouldn’t we discuss them? It means having talks on those points, let’s see whether we accept them or not, but we have to discuss them,” PNL MP Nini Sapunaru stated.
The Social Democrats disagreed with the Liberals’ request.
The Liberals complained that 1.2 million hectares of forest will be taken out from the forestry fund through the new Forestry Code.
Former Environment Minister Attila Korodi warned in his turn too that at this moment the market is controlled by three large companies and the local industry no longer has access to raw materials.
The Social Democrats attacked the Austrian wood processing company, claiming that it cries on Romanians’ shoulders.
Competition Council asks European Commission for opinion on the introduction of timber purchases cap
The Competition Council has asked the European Commission for its opinion on the establishment of a 30 per cent cap on the volume of timber from each species that a company should be allowed to purchase, before introducing the measure in the draft law that will amend the existing Forestry Code.
According to a communiqué remitted by the competition authority to Agerpres on Tuesday, the maintaining of a cap on the procurement of timber could contradict the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union in terms of the free movement of goods, which might trigger an infringement procedure against Romania.
“We cannot oppose this law or the measure to limit illegal logging. We have objections referring to some of the point-by-point measures that, although they were introduced with good intentions, risk to infringe the European legislation and may trigger sanctions from the European Commission,” Bogdan Chiritoiu, the head of the Competition Council, stated.
He specified that the authority already sent a notification to the head of the state, asking him to pay attention to the fact that certain provisions of the draft law to amend the Forestry Code could violate the European community legislation.
“Considering that a variant of the law has already been sent for promulgation including such provisions that could infringe European legislation in the competition field, including with respect to state aid, as it was our responsibility, we have already sent a note to the President of Romania to draw his attention on this matter,” said Bogdan Chiritoiu.
Thus, the Competition Council ever since June 2014 specified its position with respect to all the draft laws intended to amend the Forestry Code, by sending its objections to both the Government (the Department for Rivers, Forestry and Fisheries), and also to the Parliament (the parliamentary Committee for Agriculture, Forestry, Food Industry and Specific Services, the Committee for Ecological Balance and Environment Protection, the Committee for Legal Matters, Discipline, and Immunities of the Lower Chamber).
On the other hand, the representatives of the Competition Council reminded in the document that the legislation already existing in the competition field is similar to that of the European Union, including instruments meant for the identification and punishment of abuses of companies that have a dominant position on the market. “In fact, the Competition Council actually fined Kronospan, company operating on the wood processing market, with a 3.5 million fine, for abuse of its domineering position. The sanction was confirmed by the High Court of Cassation and Justice,” said the abovementioned release.
Moreover, in the coming period the competition authority will complete a wood market study and will make known its recommendations for the improvement of regulations that govern this sector and the functioning of Romsilva, the abovementioned source also specified.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta on May 9 specified in Targoviste that the Forestry Code was to be debated on Tuesday [May 12 – e.n.] by the specialist committees of the Lower Chamber.
In her turn, the Minister of Environment, Rivers and Forestry, Gratiela Gavrilescu, has recently stated that she hoped that the Forestry Code will pass through the Lower Chamber this week, after which President Klaus Iohannis will promulgate it and then the document “will do its job.” The official specified that the Ministry has already prepared the methodological norms for the implementation of the new Forestry Code.
On April 27, the Senate rejected the request for re-examination that President Klaus Iohannis sent to Parliament with respect to the law that will amend the Forestry Code, thus adopting the legislative proposal that was sent for promulgation.
Austria’s Holzindustrie Schweighofer threatens lawsuits
Austria’s Holzindustrie Schweighofer has sent a letter to Premier Victor Ponta, informing him that the document titled Forestry Code is breaking European competition rules, Antena 3 informs.
The Austrian company points out to the turnover of hundreds of millions of Euros in Romania and the fact that it has over 3,500 employees.
Environment Minister Gratiela Gavrilescu recently announced an Environment Ministry audit at Holzindustrie Schweighofer, an audit through which it seeks to verify the legality of the company’s purchases of wood logs. The company has four wood processing plants, in Radauti, Sebes, Siret and Comanesti.