President Klaus Iohannis welcomed a delegation of the European Commission for Democracy through Law of the Council of Europe (the Venice Commission) at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace on Wednesday to voice dissatisfaction with what he called a defective way in which the Social Democratic Party (PSD), major at rule, legislates, pointing to the adoption of amendments to the criminal codes as the most recent example.
“This way of legislating is extremely damaging and it deliberately creates instability within the judiciary,” Iohannis is quoted as saying in a press statement released by the Presidential Administration.
Iohannis pointed out that, although the Constitutional Court of Romania has identified a number of irregularities in the two controversial bills amending the Criminal Codes, “Parliament did not learn its lesson and discussed them once again it in the same hasty, perfunctory and non-transparent manner.”
“PSD has once again knowingly ignored the parliamentary opposition, magistrates’ organisations and associations, and even the Venice Commission’s opinion on these changes,” the Presidential Administration said.
According to the statement, the Venice Commission is currently in Romania to discuss the legislative developments in the field of justice legislation generated by the adoption by the Government of Romania of five emergency ordinances starting with September 2018 – Government Emergency Ordinance (OUG) 77/2018, 90/2018, 92/2018, 7/2019, and 12/2019.
The Presidential Administration points out that the use of emergency ordinances has highlighted the excessive use of this legislative instrument in very sensitive areas where a serious, in-depth, and fully transparent debate is needed. President Iohannis underscored that “Romania finds itself in a situation where the government is legislating and Parliament is just taking note.”
“The President of Romania has stated that the emergency ordinances were provided by the Constitution as instruments made available to the Government to allow it to intervene only in extraordinary and truly urgent cases of legislation. In time, however, succeeding governments have used them excessively, which became a serious issue. As far as justice is concerned, emergency ordinances adopted after the amendment of justice legislation have generated instability in the judiciary, and the measures therein not only fail to meet the recommendations of the Venice Commission of October 2018, but have created new vulnerabilities to judicial independence.”
President Klaus Iohannis indicated that the adoption of measures with a direct impact on the judiciary, without public consultations and without taking into account the judiciary, makes the operation itself of this vital area for Romanian democracy vulnerable.
“The President of Romania underscored that, considering all these arguments, he decided to call for a referendum on May 26. Judicial independence is a matter of great interest to the Romanian citizens and their opinion must be heard through the vote,” the Presidential Administration mentioned.