On Monday the House will hold the decisive vote on the Administrative Code bill that eliminates the 20 percent threshold for the use of the national minorities’ maternal language in the local administration and that gives special indemnities to local elected officials once their terms in office expire.
The House plenary meeting will start on Monday, at 4 p.m., with the final vote scheduled for 6 p.m. The Senate already adopted the bill on June 11.
Initially, the bill on the Administrative Code of Romania was put up for final vote within the House on June 27 but was sent back the committee for a supplementary report. Subsequently, the committee conducted a series of legislative correlations regarding incompatibilities and conflict of interest, to avoid double regulating. The House lawmakers postponed a vote on the bill during their July 5 plenary meeting too.
The provisions of the bill include the elimination of the 20 percent threshold for the use of the maternal language of national minorities in prefectures, city halls, county councils and local councils, but also for the setting up of bilingual signs.
“Article 94 – The use of the language of national minorities (1) In administrative-territorial units/subdivisions in which the citizens who are members of national minorities hold a share of more than 20 percent of the population, the local public administration authorities, the public institutions subordinated to them, the bodies that carry out public services and public utility services of local or county interest, as well as the prefectures and the decentralised public services, have the obligation to ensure the use of the relevant national minority language, in line with the provisions of the Constitution, of the present Code and of the international treaties whose signatory Romania is. (2) The public authorities and institutions, as well as the other legal entities mentioned under Section (1), through the decision of their deliberative bodies or leadership bodies respectively, can decide to ensure the use of the national minority language in the administrative-territorial units in which the citizens who are members of national minorities do not have the share stipulated by Section (1),” reads the bill adopted by the Senate.
Regarding this provision, UDMR’s Senate whip Cseke Attila said that the 20 percent threshold for the use of the maternal language is not being eliminated, instead, the law regulates the possibility of using the maternal language of national minorities in localities in which a minority is less than 20 percent of the population. On July 5, he told the Mediafax correspondent that since 2001 the local authorities have been obligated to ensure the use of the maternal language if a minority is more than 20 percent of a locality’s population.
“The Administrative Code does not eliminate the 20 percent threshold for the use of the maternal language. Even though there are EU countries in which this threshold is significantly lower than the one stipulated in Romania – 20 percent –, the lowering or the elimination of this threshold hasn’t been proposed nor is it included in the report on the Administrative Code. The 20 percent threshold is stipulated since 2001, as an obligation of the local authorities to ensure the use of the maternal language if a minority’s share is over 20 percent,” Cseke Attila explained.
Regarding the Union’s strategy on this bill, UDMR’s House whip Attila Korodi announced on July 5 that the party’s representatives will vote in favour.
“There has been intense work on the proposal that came up with substantial modifications. It is much more representative for a European democracy. We will support this Code,” House lawmaker Attila Korodi said.
Another provision adopted by the Senate concerns the special pensions of local elected officials, which will be paid from the state budget on the expiration of their terms in office.