POLITICS

U.S. Ambassador: Parliament adopted Offshore Law by breaking all principles of transparency and negotiation. It was first presented for vote on Monday at 3 p.m. and adopted at 10 p.m.

U.S. Ambassador to Bucharest Hans Klemm stated on Saturday that he has encouraged the Romanian Government on several occasions to be predictable in what concerns the economy and transparent in what concerns the modifications that may affect investors, and criticised the way Parliament adopted the Offshore Law that regulates the production of Black Sea natural gas, saying that all principles of transparency and negotiation were “undoubtedly” broken. “This law was first presented for vote on Monday at 3 p.m. and adopted at 10 p.m.,” the American diplomat stated.

Asked whether democratic forces should intervene in what concerns the judicial laws of NATO or EU member states, the American ambassador added: “Romania is trying to consolidate its democratic institutions, including an independent judiciary. In certain moments, when we were concerned, we tried, both privately and publicly, to make our concerns known. Recently, concerning cybersecurity, terrorism and organised crime.”

He also referred to American investors, present in every economic sector in Romania, and said that he has always encouraged the Government to be much more predictable: “Improvements can be made anytime. I have always encouraged the Government to be much more predictable in what concerns the economy, taxes, to be more stable and transparent in what concerns modifications, and to consult the business community.”

Likewise, the U.S. ambassador criticised the way Parliament adopted the Offshore Law, which regulates the production of Black Sea natural gas, saying all principles of transparency and negotiation were broken.

“Unfortunately, not all these regulations were made uniformly by the recent governments. Last week, for example, Parliament adopted a new law on the production of Black Sea natural gas. The President hasn’t promulgated it yet, so we must be careful. But this law was at first presented for vote on Monday, at 3 p.m., and adopted at 10 p.m. It happened very fast, but it broke all the principles of transparency and negotiation. Undoubtedly,” Klemm stated on Saturday at the Rasnov Film and Histories Festival where he took part in a debate alongside French Ambassador Michele Ramis and German Ambassador Cord Meier-Klodt.

The Offshore Law, which regulates the production of Black Sea natural gas, was adopted by the House – the Chamber with the last say on the matter – during the extraordinary session that concluded on Friday.

PSD leader Liviu Dragnea claimed that the law, which was adopted by the House in a form that differed a lot from the one adopted by the Senate, will help Romania shake off its energy dependence on Russia.

The law will force operators to pay progressive taxes on supplementary revenues, 50 percent of all production will have to be sold on the Romanian market, and the sums obtained will be channelled into public-private partnerships.

“We couldn’t accept Romania continuing to be energy dependent on the Russians. The fact that we placed 50 percent of all production on bilateral contracts, and 50 percent traded on the Romanian market, means that Romania becomes one of the few countries that becomes energy independent,” Dragnea said.

Dragnea presented a significantly modified variant of the law, compared to the one adopted by the Senate, precisely at the time when the law was being discussed within the special committees. He believes that the state will collect more than USD 20 billion following the adoption of the new measures.

This law has generated controversy within the PSD-ALDE ruling coalition, ALDE Spokesperson and House lawmaker Varujan Vosganian stating that what ALDE wanted to see in the Offshore Law was not included in it and calling for “an urgent intervention on the legislative act.” He said there was no dialogue on this legislative act within the coalition, that ALDE’s proposals were rejected by the Government, and that ALDE parliamentarians were placed in a “delicate situation.”

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