POLITICS

Nicusor Dan: USR files constitutional challenge against law that eliminates conflict of interest notion

Nicusor Dan, the leader of Save Romania Union (USR) Lower Chamber lawmakers, stated on Monday, at the Palace of Parliament, that USR MPs have notified the Constitutional Court about the bill modifying Article 301 and Article 308 of law no.286/2009 on the Criminal Code. The bill seeks to eliminate the notion of conflict of interest for civil servants, replacing it with “use of office to favour some persons.”

“It was lodged with the Senate’s Registry with some nervousness, because the working hours were ending,” Nicusor Dan stated.

Asked how many PNL Senators signed the notification, the USR leader said: “around seven, eight, nine or ten.”

The Lower Chamber lawmaker claimed that the unconstitutional aspects that USR invoked in its notification concern the principle of bicameralism and the international treaties Romania has signed.

“Two things disappear with the new wording – the commercial relations (…) and the work relations term. So, at this moment, conflict of interest is conflict of interest only if it involves relatives up to the second degree. In essence, there are two reasons for the constitutionality oversight we’ve invoked – the principle of bicameralism, which states that between the two Chambers of Parliament a version of the law cannot be substantially different (…) and the fact that the Constitution says that the international treaties to which Romania is a party are part of domestic law and prevail over domestic laws. (…) To put it bluntly, based on this law, if someone ends up being a mayor and awards a contract to one of his former employees, then there’s no conflict of interest – this is what the change is, in simple terms,” Nicusor Dan added.

The Lower Chamber adopted on Tuesday, with 187 votes in favour, 79 against and 6 abstentions, the bill modifying Article 301 and Article 308 of law no.286/2009 on the Criminal Code. The bill eliminates the notion of conflict of interest for civil servants, replacing it with the following wording: “use of office to favour some persons.”

According to its substantiation, “the provisions of Article 301 and Article 308 of law no.286/2009 on the Criminal Code, with subsequent modifications and supplements, must be amended as follows: modifying the title of Article 301 by replacing the term ‘conflict of interest’ with ‘use of office to favour some persons.’”

At the same time, the members of the Lower Chamber’s Judiciary Committee decided to withdraw the amendment filed by Marton Arpad, which would have introduced the notion of “damage of public interest.”

Marton Arpad’s amendment read as follows: “The guilty act of a civil servant who, while exercising his prerogatives, committed an act that resulted in a benefit being obtained by the civil servant, the civil servant’s spouse or relative up to the second degree, thus causing a damage of public interest, is punishable by one to five years in prison and the suspension of the right to hold public office for a period of three years.”

During the Judiciary Committee’s meeting, Marton Arpad stated he gives up on the amendment because “nobody understood anything.”

“I’m giving up on this amendment (…) because it seems nobody understood anything even though I found in the juridical dictionary, I found in the doctrine too, what damage and public interest mean and what damaging the public interest would mean. I understand some people’s concern not to damage the public interest through such wording. But there’s a long way from this to stating that this wording was introduced here to be able to hire relatives at parliamentary offices,” Marton Arpad said.

 

 

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