Since its first fact-finding to Romania in 2016, the Conference of INGOs has been following closely the dynamics of the NGO sector and the evolution of its legal, political, economic and social environment. To follow up on its first report, the delegation of the Conference of INGOs visited Bucharest from 3 to 5 December 2018.
During discussions at the Parliament, special attention was paid to the Bill No. 140/2017 amending Government Ordinance 26/2000 on Associations and Foundations. The Expert Council on NGO Law of the Conference of INGOs issued an unfavourable legal opinion on this draft law in December 2017. The Venice Commission and the OSCE published their joint opinion in March 2018. These two critical opinions were transmitted to the Parliament of Romania by the competent authorities. The delegation stressed the need to abandon this legislative initiative. Any draft legislation which will be proposed by the government or the parliament should take into account the joint guidelines of the Venice Commission and the OSCE on freedom of association and jurisprudence in this area.
On the eve of the decision of the Constitutional Court, the discussion between several stakeholders as well representatives of the government, the Presidency of the Republic and civil society, focused on the law transposing the 20 May 2015 EU Directive 2015/849 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist. The exchange of views on this subject continued between the President of the Conference of INGOs and the President of the National Office for the Prevention and Combating of Money Laundering, accompanied by the representative of the Ministry of Justice during their visit to Strasbourg. The provisions of this bill, their possible interpretation and use, may conflict with the ethical rules of associations and foundations. The delegation of the Conference of INGOs reiterated its appeal to policy makers to continue, even strengthen, dialogue with the NGO sector. The delegation underlined the necessity to to conduct a regulatory impact assessment prior to the promulgation of the law.
The delegation of the Conference of INGOs thanks the Foundation for the Development of Civil Society and the Permanent Representation of Romania to the Council of Europe for the partnership and support in the preparation of this visit. The report of the visit will be sent to the authorities for comments and discussed during the spring session of the Conference of INGOs (April 2019).
We hope that the presidency of the European Union ensured for the first time by Romania in 2019 will be an opportunity to highlight the contribution of Romanian NGOs in the historical process of democratization and to recognize the continued services provided by NGOs to the whole society.