On Thursday, President Klaus Iohannis sent Premier Viorica Dancila two letters in which he substantiates his decision to reject the appointment in office of the persons nominated at the helm of the Transport and Development ministries.
In the case of the rejection of Ilan Laufer’s nomination as Development Minister, the reasons invoked consist of the conditions that must be met in order to hold the office of member of Government. In the case of the rejection of Lia Olguta Vasilescu’s nomination as Transport Minister, the reason invoked consists of her lack of experience. At the same time, in the case of the rejection of Lia Olguta Vasilescu’s nomination as Development Minister and of Mircea Draghici’s nomination as Transport Minister, the reason invoked was that “they do not meet the legal conditions required to comply with the nominations.”
One letter refers to Harry-Ilan Laufer’s nomination as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development and Public Administration, and to Lia Olguta Vasilescu’s nomination as Transport Minister, following the proposed dismissal of ministers Paul Stanescu and Lucian Sova respectively.
In the Head of State’s opinion, in Laufer’s case “the documents accompanying the proposal do not show the fulfilment of the conditions stipulated by Article 105 of the Constitution and by Article 2 of Law no.90/2001 on the structure and functioning of the Romanian Government and of the ministries for appointment as member of Government.”
The Constitutional article invoked stipulates: “(1) Membership of the Government shall be incompatible with the exercise of any other public office, except for the office of member of the House or Senate. Likewise, it shall be incompatible with the exercise of any office of professional representation paid by a trading organization; (2) Other incompatibilities shall be established by organic law.”
Article 2 of Law no.90/2001 stipulates that “the office of member of Government can be held by persons who have Romanian citizenship and reside in the country, who enjoy the exercise of their electoral rights, were not criminally convicted and do not find themselves in one of the cases of incompatibility established by Book I, Title IV, of Law no.161/2003 on measures insuring transparency in the exercise of public office and in the business environment, on the prevention and censuring of corruption, with subsequent amendments and supplementations.”
In the case of Lia Olguta Vasilescu, the rejection was due to the fact that “the nominated person lacks the necessary experience to manage the complex field of transportation.”
“Bearing in mind these reasons, in line with the provisions of Article 85, Paragraph (2), of the Constitution, and considering the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, I have decided to reject the nominations for these offices,” the President points out.
The second letter regards “the nomination of Ms Lia-Olguta Vasilescu as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development and Public Administration, and the nomination of Mr Mircea-Gheorghe Draghici as Transport Minister, as a result of the proposal of dismissal/of noting the vacancy of the office.”
“Seeing the incidence of the provisions of Article 85, Paragraph (2), and Article 105 of the Constitution, and taking into account the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, noting that in the conveyed proposals there is no mention of the fulfilment of the legal conditions, and the documents conveyed do not show the fulfilment of the conditions stipulated by Article 105 of the Constitution and Article 2 of Law no.90/2001 on the structure and functioning of the Romanian Government and of the ministries for appointment as member of Government, I hereby inform you that the nominations for the office of member of Government, forwarded on 22 November 2018 and 30 November 2018, do not show the fulfilment of the legal conditions necessary to comply with them,” the President concludes.
The Government had sent the President the dismissal from office of the Transport and Development Ministers, and had nominated Lia Olguta Vasilescu and Ilan Laufer, but, on November 20, President Iohannis refused to dismiss Transport Minister Lucian Sova and Development Minister Paul Stanescu, implicitly rejecting the nominations.
On November 21, Lia Olguta Vasilescu was nominated at the helm of the Development Ministry, and Mircea Draghici was nominated at the helm of the Transport Ministry. Subsequently, Sova and Stanescu resigned, but their gesture did not result in the issuance of dismissal decrees this time around either.
On December 5, President Klaus Iohannis stated that he was yet to finalise the analysis on the Government reshuffle. Referring to the blockage that would be generated by the fact that the ministers’ resignations would come into force, the President replied: “The solution lies with the PSD, it would only take for them to come up with efficient people.”
On December 7, the Government turned to the Constitutional Court, the latter noting, on December 19, the existence of a juridical conflict of a constitutional nature between the Government and the Presidency on this topic.
On 3 January 2019, President Klaus Iohannis signed the decrees noting the vacancy of the office of Regional Development and Public Administration Minister and of the office of Transport Minister.
Toni Grebla: Iohannis’ answer is a political one, therefore we will act accordingly. We’ll make a decision, meaning we’ll insist on the nominations we made, and in the end the President will have to accept them
General Secretary of the Government, Toni Grebla, says President Klaus Iohannis’ answer on the grounds for which he refused to appoint the Transport and Development Ministers is a political one, therefore “we will act accordingly”. “In the next few hours we will make a decision, meaning that we’ll insist on the nominations we made, and in the end the President will have to accept them”, Grebla stated.
Toni Grebla said on Thursday, in a phone intervention at Antena 3, that the first proposal forwarded by the PM to the President was on November 19, 2018, and right after that moment, the decision of the Constitutional Court “that brought more light in this case” was issued.
“Since then, since November 19, the President analyzed if the requirements set by the Constitutional and the law are met, and he gave a motivated answer on his decision to refuse the successive nominations for the two ministries only today”, he stated, mentioning that there should be more responsibility, since we’re talking about appointing two ministers.
He said that President “invokes the breach – the applicability, he doesn’t say the breach – of the provisions of Art.85 par.2 of the Constitution, which only states that the President appoints a minister if a minister position is vacant, and of Art.105 of the Constitution which also speaks about incompatibilities, without saying how they are incompatible”.
“Of course, neither one nor the other – nor the third one who was proposed – is ina state of incompatibility”, Grebla said.
He added that even if such a situation would exist, the holder of the position in question must leave the state of incompatibility within 15 days.
“The answer is a political one, therefore we will act accordingly during this day”, Grebla stated.
Grebla also said that the procedure to dismiss and appoint ministers is the same since dozens of years, “but the President refused to appoint only the two ministers, based on today’s absolutely superficial grounding”.
“In the next few hours we will make a decision, meaning that we’ll insist on the nominations we made, and in the end the President will have to accept them. (…) I told you there are two possibilities (to resend the proposals or to notify the Constitutional Court – e.n.), we will analyze them, and today we will make a decision and we’ll act according to the decision we will make. One of them doesn’t exclude the other, if the President will continue to have the same behavior as until now, regarding the functioning of the Government”, he also said.
Grebla added that there is no legal or constitutional argument for the President to refuse the second nomination.
Olguta Vasilescu: If Mr Iohannis wants this so much, I’ll send him a copy of my ID card. I’ve been minister before, I’m House lawmaker, had there been a state of non-legality or incompatibility it would’ve been discovered by now
Nominated as Development Minister and then as Transport Minister, Lia Olguta Vasilescu states that if the Head of State wants to, she will send him a copy of her ID card, stating that she does not understand what proof he wants. “Let’s not forget I’ve been minister before, let’s not forget I’m an elected member of the House, and had there been a state of non-legality or incompatibility it would’ve been discovered by now. (…) I have absolutely no capacity other than that as House lawmaker,” Vasilescu added.
“It’s exactly what we were expecting, he wrote something so that people won’t say he didn’t offer a substantiation, but it has nothing to do with what the CCR asked. I want to remind Mr Iohannis that the office of Transport Ministry is a political office and that he too, even though he was a physics professor, wanted to be, at one point, back in the days of the USL, Deputy Premier and Interior Minister, without being a police officer as far as I know and having no qualification aside from being a physics professor. Likewise, I’d like to remind Mr Iohannis that I’ve been mayor, just like he has, so we have the same competencies in this field, so to say, with the difference that I’ve been, nevertheless, in charge of a city double the size, from that office I was able to manage very many infrastructure works and I actually had a transport administration under my authority, but this is less important because, once again, the office of minister is a political office,” Lia Olguta Vasilescu stated in a phone interview with Antena3.
In what concerns the rejection of the second nomination, she said that there is no reason of non-legality or incompatibility.
“Let’s not forget I’ve been minister before, let’s not forget I’m elected member of the House, and had there been a state of non-legality or incompatibility it would’ve been discovered by now. I’m a Romanian citizen residing in Romania, as the law demands; likewise, I haven’t been criminally convicted in any way. (…) He is now asking for proof of this; we don’t understand what proof, (…) however I would also like to say that several days ago Mr Klaus Iohannis appointed six other ministers, from whom he demanded no kind of supplementary confirmation. If Mr Iohannis wants this so much, I’ll send him a copy of my ID card, because I see that the services subordinated to him were unable to find a copy. I have no other capacity apart from that as House lawmaker, and as you know the capacity of member of Government is compatible with the office of member of the House or Senate, only with this office,” she added.
Vasilescu claimed that President Iohannis’s actions must be seen from the standpoint of the upcoming presidential elections, since he announced he wants a new term in office.
“At this hour there is an institutional gridlock that, unfortunately, the European Union also notes. The European Commission is in Bucharest these days,” she stated.
PM Dancila renews request to President to appoint Vasilescu, Draghici as Development, Transport ministers
Premier Viorica Dancila on Thursday sent President Klaus Iohannis a letter reiterating the request for the head of the state to sign the decrees appointing Lia Olguta Vasilescu to Deputy PM and Minister for Regional Development and Public Administration, and Mircea Draghici to Minister of Transport.
The Premier also requests the termination of the effects of the President’s Decrees No. 46/2019 and No. 47/2019, each appointing a member of the government as acting minister.