PNL notifies Constitutional Court about setting up of special cttee on national security laws

The National Liberal Party (PNL) has lodged with the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) a notification of unconstitutionality regarding Parliament’s decision to set up the special committee on national security laws, according to a communique remitted to MEDIAFAX on Tuesday.

“The considerations that the Constitutional Court was notified about include the lack of clarity of the defined objective of the special committee, a fact that generates unpredictability regarding the legislation procedure; the limitation of the standing parliamentary committees’ prerogative to debate bills in the field of analysis allocated to them; the generation of unclarity regarding the order in which Parliament’s chambers are notified; the infringing of constitutional provisions regarding the tabling of legislative proposals; the restriction of media access to the proceedings of the special committee,” the press release reads. PNL claims that Parliament Decision no.19/18 April 2018 on the setting up of a House and Senate joint special committee on analysing and updating the legislative framework in the national security field is not in line with the provisions of Art. 1(5), Art. 31, Art. 61, Art. 64(4), Art. 68, and Art. 74(1) and Art.74(4) of the Romanian Constitution.

The Liberals claim that Parliament Decision no.19/2018 concerns aspects that have to do with the way an authority of constitutional rank is organised and functions, and affects the constitutional values, rules and principles established by Art. 1(5) and Art. 64(4) of the Romanian Constitution.

In the notification it lodged with the CCR, the PNL states that it is not clear whether this special committee “endorses complex legislative acts” that are currently in parliamentary procedure, “drafts bills,” or simply analyses the current legislative framework on the national security field.

“Instituting to the benefit of the special committee this general prerogative of examining, amending and supplementing all those legislative acts with incidence on national security infringes upon the principle of bicameralism, eliminating from among the prerogatives of the standing committees of the House and Senate, as established in line with the regulations, the debating of existing or future bills with incidence on an entire regulatory field that pertained to their exclusive competence. The contradictory wording of Article 1 of Parliament Decision no.19/2018 leads to the restricting of the competence of the standing committees of the two Chambers, by transferring an essential domain from their competence to [that of] a special committee,” the PNL points out, according to the mentioned source.

Liberals also state that Article 3 of Parliament Decision no.19/18 April 2018 violates Article 68 and Article 31 of the Romanian Constitution.

“The wording of Article 3 of the Parliament Decision clearly and explicitly shows the lawmaker’s intention to exclusively limit the media’s access to the proceedings of the committee and to violate the citizens’ right to have access to information of public interest, and not to confer a classified character upon the committee’s meetings, not stipulating any situation in which the public’s access to the committee’s meetings would be restricted,” the Liberals state.

On Wednesday, April 18, the joint plenum of the House and Senate adopted the setting up of the special committee on the amending of the national security laws, the legislative body also being able to table bills in the national security field. Claudiu Manda is the chairman of this committee.

The setting up of the committee on national security laws was announced at the end of January by PSD President Liviu Dragnea. The PSD President stated that there are approximately 15 national security laws. In his turn, in a statement given at the Palace of Parliament, following the Bucharest Format Parliamentary Summit (B9), President Klaus Iohannis said that national security is such an important topic that it cannot be occupied by a single institution, pointing out that in the Constitution all large institutions have a role in ensuring national security, starting with the President, CSAT, Parliament, Government and of course the special entities – the armed forces, the intelligence services etc.

“In this sense, I believe it is important to understand that any overture made by any of these sides to change or improve the overall framework requires the collaboration of all the others. In this context, of course, theoretically one can imagine two scenarios. One scenario would be that a PSD willing to occupy all state institutions, to take them over, would force legislative changes in the national security field, in the sense of a political control, without collaborating with the Presidency, without collaborating with the CSAT, without collaborating with the armed forces, with the services. This is a bad scenario,” President Iohannis stated.

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