What is going on with lobby legislation in Romania?

Newsroom 29/01/2014 | 08:30

In Romania, the lobby activity isn’t submitted into national legislation, although the term is frequently used in public speeches of politicians, civil society, mass media, private sector. Moreover, on Romanian market exists some firms that offer lobby services under different work descriptions, activities that are formally register as public relations or consultancy. Mediafax newswire organized on January 28 a conference that aimed to bring into dialogue in an interactive public debate the main actors of the public decisions regarding this topic and to provide new approaches for conducting optimal lobbying activity.

Lucyna Gutman – Grauer, member of the board of the Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP) stated that in the European institutions, the lobbying activity is a democratic practice. “Lobby is a direct or indirect influence on the formulation and implementation of the legislation, no matter the model used for communication, if there is outsourcing or media sources, it’s all about the network of a member, how information is communicated and the promotional materials. Such activities cover more than simply influencing legislation, it’s about call to action, advocacy, government relations, rather than simply influencing some institutions”, said Gutman – Grauer, stating that lobbying is a transparent and democratic process. Moreover, she noted that the European institutions have more than 3.000 people in charge of lobbying and in total there are about 100.000 people involved.

Ionut Sibian, member of the European Economic and Social Committee, said that lobby legislation was discussed since 2000, when public transparency law was implemented. Besides, he argued that in our national parliament, the officials do not apply public oral hearing, situation also stated by one of the conference’s participants who was kicked out of a public debate although he was formally invited as the representative of a business industry.

At this conference, Valeriu Zgonea, the president of the Chamber of Deputies pointed out exhaustively the December 10 2013 working day, when he sent back the lobby law to the Legal Commission, as well as the amnesty law, and also killed the mining law but forgot to mention the amendments to the penal code through which MPs and the president are excluded from the category of public workers, limiting anti-corruption investigations against them. He sustained the presence of a lobby law and encouraged civil society and lobby activists to send their amendments and points of view to the Legal Commission, the authority which will re-write the draft law. This initiative was also uphold by Bogdan Ciuca, the president of the commission mentioned above. Ciuca’s speech was mainly focused on the integrity of his work at the commission and the goodwill that he has for receiving pros and cons regarding the lobby law.

The Romanian politicians that represented the country internationally, Mircea Geoana, former ambassador in US, Adina Valean, current European MP and Leonard Orban, former EU commissioner argued in favor of a proper legislation for this topic but particularly done for Romania’s market, giving examples from US and EP, mentioning also the importance of transparency and integrity for such an issue.

On the other hand, the civil society activists invited at the conference advocated for a self-regulation system, as the current one. According to Laura Florea, the President of the Association of Romanian Lobby Registry, a lobby law will “kill” most of the activists of the national market, while the actually need is for a law of interests transparency.

The regulation of lobbying was dispatched, while most of the participants argued in favor of self-regulation. According to the politicians invited at the conference, from February 1 the discussions about the lobby topic will be reopened in the Legal Commission.

Oana Vasiliu

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