DIPLOMACY

MAE: EC decision to refer Romania to CJEU for not implementing anti-money laundering rules, standard procedure

The European Commission’s decision to refer Romania, alongside Greece and Ireland, to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for failing to implement the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive into their national law is “standard procedure in cases where a member state does not notify the European institution in due time of the national piece of legislation transposing the European piece of legislation in full,” according to a press statement released by Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) on Friday.

MAE says that so far, the CJEU Registry has not served Romania with a request for preliminary ruling filed by the European Commission. The drafting and submission by the Commission of the request to the Registry is a different procedural step that follows the decision to actually refer the matter to the court.

Under a firm compliance schedule to which the entitled Romanian authorities with regulatory powers in the field of money laundering, the European Commission may decide to postpone the effective referral to the CJEU, according to MAE.

Thus, MAE says that “for the purpose of full transposition of Directive (EU) 2015/849, the institutions responsible at national level – the General Secretariat of the Government (SGG), the National Office for the Prevention and Control of Money Laundering (ONPCSB) and the Ministry of Justice – have drafted and promoted a bill on the prevention and fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.”

The bill, fully compatible with the European directive, was approved at the meeting of the Romanian government on May 31, 2018. Currently, bill is under debate in the Senate, the first parliamentary chamber notified, going through the specific legislative procedures, according to MAE.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs carried out the legal assessment of the bill in terms of compatibility with the European Union law, being consulted by the bill initiators in the ministerial approval procedure and contributing, through concrete proposals, to the full legislative harmonisation of the bill under analysis with the EU directive whose transposition is being pursued.”

On Thursday, the European Commission referred Romania and Greece to the European Court of Justice for failing to implement into their national law the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, according to the European Commission’s online news portal. Ireland implemented only a very limited part of the rules and is therefore also referred to the Court of Justice. The Commission proposed that the Court charge a lump sum and daily penalties until the three countries take the necessary action.

According to the law, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs approves bills design to implement or provide the framework for direct application in the national legislation of the European Union laws or laws having a European relevance, while securing inter-ministerial co-ordination in order to implement the EU directives and secure the framework for direct application or regulations and decisions. At the same time, through the Government Agent for the CJEU, MAE also provides legal representation in cases related to impeachments initiated by the European Commission against Romania.

These powers do not, however, imply that MAE performs the actual implementation of the European legislation into the national law, which is the exclusive responsibility of the organisations in the specific areas regulated by each European directive.

Thus, MAE says that neither it nor the minister-delegate for European affairs have powers in establishing and setting up measures that ensure the proper implementation of directives.

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