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August 10, 2022

Senate has tacitly adopted the law on NGOs initiated by Serban Nicolae and Liviu Plesoianu

The Senate’s plenum has tacitly adopted on Monday the legislative initiative of the Social-Democrats Liviu Plesoianu and Serban Nicolae which changes the operating conditions of the NGOs that are declared to be of public utility, after it wasn’t debated due to the lack of quorum.

The legislative initiative that proposes the amendment of the GO no.26/2000 on the organization and functioning of the associations, foundations and federations had the deadline for tacit adoption on November 20, 2017. The Social-Democrats’ project wasn’t debated in the plenum of the Senate due to the lack of quorum, after the majority of the PSD-ALDE senators left the plenary room.

PNL Senator Alina Gorghiu said in the plenary session that the gesture of her colleagues from PSD-ALDE indicates a lack of common sense.

“I’m not offending from the Senate’s microphone, but it seems to me a lack of common sense (…) for our colleagues from PSD-ALDE not to have the decency to stay in the room in order to debate a draft law which is tacitly adopted today, when they knew that it is the ordinance of the great group leader Serban Nicolae who makes some crazy things on the Ordinance 26” Gorghiu stated.

PSD Senator Ecaterina Andronescu replied that the extension of the Senate’s schedule made the PSD-ALDE senators leave.

“I believe that a legislative initiative, whatever it may be, shouldn’t increase tension even more between the parliamentary groups. As fa as I am concerned, I am telling you: I haven’t received any order to leave, and I believe that today was a day with an unusual extended schedule, and I believe that the extension of the schedule beyond the limits usually accepted made my colleagues leave the room. Therefore I am asking you not to construe” Andronescu said.

The draft was filed in the Parliament on March 21 by the PSD MP Liviu Plesoianu and by the Social-Democrat Senator Serban Nicolae.

The explanatory memorandum mentions that the increase of the transparency is necessary and proposes the obligation for the NGOs to publish a detailed statement of income and expenses on a semi-annual basis.

“Associations, foundations and federations have the obligation to publish on a semi-annual basis, until July 31, respectively until January 31, in the Official Journal, Part IV, the statements of income and expenses for the previous semester. In the published statement there will be distinctly mentioned, for each income, the person or the activity, as the case may be, which generated the income in question, as well as its value. Not publishing the statement will lead to the suspension of the activity of the association for 30 days, by the law. If the statement will not be published within this term, the association, the foundation or the federation will immediately cease its activity” reads the text of the law.

According to a provision of the normative act, an NGO is given the status of the organization of public utility if it hasn’t performed in the last 2 years and if it also doesn’t currently perform political activities of any kind: fundraising activities supporting campaigns or an opposition against a political party or against a candidate to a public position in which he or she can be appointed or elected.

The draft law also introduces an algorithm for public funding depending on the activity object of the NGO: Social Services (Assistance-Protection-Inclusion-Cohesion- Security-Development-Social Economy), Charity and Humanitarian Aid, Health, Sports, Education, Science, Research, Innovation, Environment and Animal Protection, Consumer Protection, National Values and Values of the National Minorities – Traditions and Cultural Heritage, Diplomacy and International Relations, Military-Defense-Cult of Heroes.

Also, an NGO can be recognized as being of public utility for a period of five years and this period can be renewed according to the law, but if the association or foundation no longer fulfills one or more conditions under which this status was granted, the Government withdraws, by decision, the public utility status at the proposal of the administrative authority or of the Justice Minister.

Deputies’ Chamber is the decisional body for this draft law.

The tacit adoption of the draft law changing the operating conditions for NGOs wasn’t agreed by Dacian Ciolos, who sent a message through the Romania 100 Platform, by which he criticized the Senate’s decision.

“Romania 100 platform sounds an alarm bell on the serious consequences which the adoption of such a normative act could have on the associative environment, an attempt to destabilize the organized civil society and to make it silent” was the message of Dacian Ciolos’s organization.

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