Statements by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and other Cabinet members at the start of the Cabinet meeting

27 December

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Ludovic Orban: Good evening. A lot of people asked me, in amazement: what prompted you Mr. Prime Minister to hold the Cabinet meeting on Friday? To me, it is an ordinary working day, and a normal hour. Even if we agreed to give days off: December 27 and January 3, this does not concern us, because in my view, Ministers and those serving public interest should not have days off. I was also asked by media why our next Cabinet meeting is on December 30.

I tell you from the beginning, that I want all the government decisions, organizational and operation decisions of the ministries to have all the endorsements on 30 December, in order to adopt them. I repeat, all the organization and operation decisions of the Government. This is the main objective of the 30 December Cabinet meeting, because we should enter the new year with new organizational charts of the ministries, according to your view as ministers and obviously, depending on the elements of the Emergency Ordinance on the organization and operation of the Government.

Therefore, we have on the meeting agenda, emergency ordinances: draft emergency ordinance supplementing article 6 of the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 84/2003 on the establishment of the National Company of Highways and National Roads in Romania by reorganizing the Autonomous Administration of the National Road Administration, draft emergency ordinance regarding the extension of the deadline provided by article 3 of Law no. 352/2015 amending and supplementing the Government Ordinance 26/2011 on the establishment of the State Inspectorate for Road Transport Control.

Draft emergency ordinance supplementing article 201 of the National Education Law. Draft Government decisions: draft decision on the granting by Romania of an emergency humanitarian aid, free of charge, to the Republic of Albania. Minister Vela? Therefore, in addition to the expertise of the construction inspectorate, the amounts of money allocated, we also have a form of aid for ...

Marcel Ion Vela: No, it is only a technical matter to subtract from the existing inventory, what was sent based on another government decision.

Ludovic Orban: Draft decision on the re-approval of the technical-economic indicators of the investment objective, repair and consolidation works to the military medical sanatorium "King Ferdinand I - Hotel" of the 3465 Herculane barracks.

Draft decision on the approval of the budget of revenues and expenses rectified in 2019 of the National Company for the Administration of Navigable Canals SA, draft decision on the approval of the budget of revenues and expenses rectified in 2019 of the National Company "River Danube Ports Administration" S.A., a draft decision regarding the approval the budget of revenues and expenses rectified in 2019 of the National Society for Passenger Railway Transport (SN "CFR Calatori" SA), draft decision regarding the amendment of the addendum to the Government Decision 488/2019 on the approval of the budget of revenues and expenses for 2019 for the Company IOR SA, under the authority of the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment; draft decision on the amendment of the addendum to the Government Decision 662 for the approval of the budget of incomes and expenses for 2019 for the Romaero Company. Memorandums: Memorandum on: "Evaluation of the legal framework regarding the organization and functioning of the Memorandum on the organisation and functioning of the Special Section for Investigating Judiciary Offenses  (SIIJ). Minister, the memorandum? A brief presentation, please.

Cătălin Predoiu, Minister of Justice: A few words about the legislative framework. This section was established by Law 207 of 2018, which amended Law 304 of 2004 and created a structure without legal personality within the Prosecutor's Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice. I would like to recall the context in which these changes were promoted: one full of tension, without public consultation, with very virulent reactions from many magistrates who opposed these changes. It is true that there were others who had other opinions, but there was very clear and severe criticism from European partners, from the European Commission, GRECO and the Venice Commission.

The initial amendment established the modalities of appointing the section management and the operation principles, a precarious, insufficient change for the section operationalization, which prompted the Ministry of Justice, led at that time by another Minister and the previous Government, to promote later an emergency ordinance, clarifying, first of all the way of appointing the management of the section, an ordinance which in turn caused great dissatisfaction and criticism both at home and abroad.

With regard to these European documents and recommendations I referred to, they first recommended that this section not be set up, as it would put additional pressure on the magistrates in parallel with the pressure already put by other legislative changes promoted during 2018. They recommended Romania reconsider establishing a separate structure of prosecutor's office for investigating the criminal offences committed by judges and prosecutors, possibly resorting to specialized prosecutors accompanied by procedural guarantees, as an alternative solution. The recommendation has been ignored.

It has been shown that the way this section is structured, cannot lead to its proper functioning and an effective fight against corruption, the competence established for this section creating a special category of citizens that will be subject exclusively to its operating competence. It has also been shown that the way it operates, contravenes the hierarchical control principle established as constitutional principle in the Public Ministry, and thus the elimination of an entire set of guarantees regarding possible corrections that could be made following possible abuses, all these criticism being prior to the operationalization of the section.

That was the situation prior to the establishment of the section, what ensued, confirmed these fears, as a set of measures taken by this section, procedural measures, showed that previously DNA made appeals to certain cases of big corruption, were withdrawn. A notification regarding international officials who had diplomatic immunity, was received and left open for non-working practice, being subsequently closed, but extremely late. Finally, as the country report itself shows, a series of actions were filed against prosecutors and judges who criticized the process of changing the Justice Laws and the criminal law agreements at that time.

Beyond these aspects related to the activity of the section itself, the analysis of the legal provisions basically shows that it is a sui generis institution that departs from the operating principles of the Public Ministry, by its operation rules, by the notion of hierarchical prosecutor, who in fact is not subordinate anymore to the Attorney General, by the fact that a category of citizens, the SIJ prosecutors has been created de facto who could benefit of a total jurisdiction immunity by playing the rules.

There is also an implied vulnerability, because the lack of express provisions could halt the possibility for prosecutors in this section to attend court sessions – in fact , they cannot represent in the cases they are investigating and not necessarily due to the necessary staff shortage, but simply because the competence and way of operation were poorly thought of; neither with regard to requests for special supervisory measures, nor for requests for preventive or guarantee measures, neither in the substantive judgment or in appeals.

Also, the material and territorial competence created difficulties and it do not ensure the presence of specialized prosecutors when it is necessary, in cases of organized crime, terrorism, corruption, in which magistrates could be involved. The appointment of the judicial police officers and agents, and of the SIIJ specialists would be made by the chief prosecutor of the section, who does not have legal personality, although the appointment and seconding are done by the head of the institution.

Finally, it should also be noted that prosecutors are in the minority, in the selection boards of the management and the prosecutors of this section, the selection being thus to be made mainly by the judges, which would contravene the principle of separation of careers, introduced through the regulations of 2018.

 I would like to point out that much has been discussed in connection with a decision of the Constitutional Court which found that SIIJ is constitutional, which does not contradict anything that has been presented here. Because in its decision, the Constitutional Court ruled on the compatibility with the Constitution, not on the operation of this section and its activity, exceeding the competence of the Constitutional Court, so there is nothing contradictory between all these criticisms that came from the magistrates, from European partner organizations, I emphasize - partners of Romania, that pointed out the legal construction deficiencies from the very beginning, respectively the provisions of the Constitutional Court decision.

Two more words I would like to add in relation to a certain external dimension of the activity of this section. I resumed the fact that it was criticized by both the GRECO Commission, the Venice Commission, and the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, but I would like to open a perspective on 2020, in which the European Commission raises the issue of evaluating the introduction of a mechanism for screening, monitoring, evaluating the rule of law in all European states.

The German presidency in the second part of the year announced that it will already make it a priority and we are practically in the position when we need to eliminate as many criticisms from the country report as possible so as to avoid any overlap between our Cooperation and Verification Mechanism and that mechanism, I no longer mention the impact on third-party European files because of these criticisms that we still have in the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.

Ludovic Orban: Therefore, Mr. Minister, the Justice Ministry proposes the dissolution of the Section for the Investigation of Criminal Offences in the Judiciary (SIIJ).

Cătălin Predoiu: For all the aforementioned, and not just because there is also in the programme for government and basically, our commitment in relation to the cooperation mechanism, an opinion ...

Ludovic Orban: There is a number of arguments. We are also analyzing the proposal of principle. It seems to me to be a fair proposal and it is also included in the programme for government.

Cătălin Predoiu: Precisely.

Ludovic Orban: Basically our CVM-related commitment is to transpose the recommendations, because our goal is to bring the CVM to an end, at a certain point. Thank you. Draft normative acts you want us to put on the agenda. Mr. Secretary of State from Agriculture.

Florian-Emil Dumitru: Mr. Prime Minister, we propose the draft government decision on the Agricultural Register for 2020-2024 because the normative act that regulated for five years the Agricultural Register expires on 31 December 2019, the Government Decision 218 of 2015 and the Agricultural Register is an instrument under which farmers receive certificates and apply to benefit from direct European subsidies and we request you to put it on the meeting agenda.

Ludovic Orban: We can find a way to eliminate this deadlock that some mayors created in granting the payments per hectare, payments are conditioned on certificates release which many mayors…I requested Minister an energetic intervention and especially a report on the mayors who deliberately make the situation difficult, for reasons I do not comprehend.

Florian-Emil Dumitru: Ordinance 3 expressly provides that the local public authorities, mayors are required to issue these certificates, but if there are cases expressly reported, we should make a joint report with the Ministry of Administration and Interior, to explain to the mayors that any kind of abuse on their part practically impedes the Romanian farmer's right to access European funds.

Ludovic Orban: Thanks! I accept the introduction on the meeting’s agenda. Other proposals! You have the floor, Mr. Horaţiu Moldovan.

Horaţiu Moldovan: Dear Prime Minister, please agree to include on the supplementary list of the government meeting, the draft emergency ordinance of the Government for the supplementation of the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 77/2011 regarding the establishment of contributions for the financing of some healthcare expenses. The original draft law was submitted to the Secretariat -General of the Government.

Ludovic Orban: Therefore, to make things clear: by this normative act, we only increase the ceiling for compensated and free medicines, by indexation according to the inflation rate.

Horaţiu Moldovan: The inflation rate for the fourth quarter, just that.

Ludovic Orban: But it does not regulate a clawback differentiation between generic and innovative medicines...

Horaţiu Moldovan: It does not differentiate, no, it is a monetary measure.

Ludovic Orban: But you know we discussed this topic, because it is clear that this clawback mechanism puts a huge pressure on the generic medicines in particular, which are the most used medicines in the treatments and if we do not put a cap, for example on the innovative ones within this established ceiling, we risk taking the clawback to points where it practically happens what has been happening for years, namely medicines are withdrawan from the market, because no company can endlessly cope with a clawback that I understand is 30%. So it's inadmissible, now I tell you honestly, and I wonder what company in this world accepts to work at a loss or accepts a 30% clawback. Does raising the ceiling, indexing the rate of inflation as much as creating a breath, have the effect of reducing the clawback?

Horaţiu Moldovan: Of course, yes, it allows us to keep on the market some medicines that are much needed now.

Ludovic Orban: Ok, but my request is to conduct an extremely serious analysis, to present me in early January a solution related to the clawback system for generic versus innovative medecines.

Horaţiu Moldovan: Of course.

Ludovic Orban: Do you agree?

Horaţiu Moldovan: Thank you.

Ludovic Orban: Let us introduce it on the agenda. Minister, please.

Costel Alexe, Minister of Environment, Water and Forests: Dear Prime Minister, please approve the agenda to be supplemented with the amendment of a draft emergency ordinance, for amending GEO 32/2015 on the establishment of forestry guards. Also, please approve a draft government decision, the government decision regarding the extension of the deadline provided for in Article 3, paragraph 1 of the Government Decision 1004/2016 on the approval of the rules regarding the origin, circulation and marketing of wood materials in the storage regime of the wood materials and the installations of ...

Ludovic Orban: How much do you want to extend the deadline?

Costel Alexe: 6 months - with 6 months, for ...

Ludovic Orban: And in six months do you pledge to streamline SUMAL?

Costel Alexe: Yes. Since taking over the government we have assumed that in less than six months we will be able to operationalize SUMAL. Also, please allow me to supplement the agenda with a draft Emergency Ordinance regarding the extension of the deadline provided for in Article 6 of the Government Ordinance 40/2006 for the approval and financing of the multi-annual priority programs for environment and water management. It is about three multiannual projects, they are in various stages, for which we also request you to extend the deadline by one year.

Ludovic Orban: Why is it necessary to extend the deadline?

Costel Alexe: Because the investment is in various stages, they need more time ...

Ludovic Orban: They should have been completed this year, right?

Costel Alexe: They should have been completed earlier in 2017.

Ludovic Orban: And practically, the extension of the deadline is necessary because the necessary amounts have not been allocated...

Costel Alexe: Obviously.

Ludovic Orban: ...for financing investment.

Costel Alexe: We have all approvals for this draft emergency ordinance.

Ludovic Orban: You have earmarked in the 2020 budget ….

Costel Alexe: We have amounts earmarked too. I will request you to supplement the meeting agenda with a memorandum on appointing a Secretary of State in a council. Thank you.

Ludovic Orban: All right.Therefore, two emergency ordinances, a Government decision and a memorandum. Minister Vela? What about prefects, subprefects?

Marcel Vela: Two subprefects are relieved of duty today.

Ludovic Orban: Your pace slowed down.

Marcel Vela: In addition, two other subprefects will be appointed.

Ludovic Orban: Therefore, you request the Government decision on appointing prefects/ subprefects to be introduced on the meeting agenda.

Irina Sanda Marin Cajal: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister, this is the GEO on the extension of the deadline provided in art. 1, paragraph 1.  of the GEO regarding the establishment of measures to ensure the mechanisms and financial resources necessary to return the donations collected for the purchase of an asset, ”Cumințenia Pământului”( The Wisdom of the Earth) belonging to the national cultural heritage.

Ludovic Orban: The Government should give money back until 31 December 2019.

Ludovic Orban: Is it possible to identify all donors?

Irina Sanda Marin Cajal: Yes, it is possible. We have the files, all the necessary approvals, we should give money back.

Ludovic Orban: I understand and now you need a postponement by one year or how much?

Irina Sanda Marin Cajal: One year is great if you can help us. Thank you !

Ludovic Orban: All right. But this problem has to be solved because people were basically involved in a donation process to reach an objective, this objective was not reached and the money has to be repaid.

.

Irina Sanda Marin Cajal: They were in good faith when they gave this money and they wanted this sculpture to belong to…

Ludovic Orban: Mr. Secretary of State Crețu, I have a question: Do you know that the Music University of Cluj is facing a very serious situation and they need a headquarters and the technical-economic indicators need to be approved, you initiated a draft government decision for the approval of technical-economic indicators. Where did it get stuck?

Secretary of State Creţu: Yes, it is at the Ministry of Finance, I understand, all the data has arrived.

Ludovic Orban: Do you check it?

Secretary of State Creţu: I'll check it, Mr. Prime Minister.

Ludovic Orban: They do not have premises to perform their activity. If we do not approve the technical-economic indicators to be able to start investments, it will be a very difficult situation, that is, I would like us to approve the draft law on the December 30 meeting. If they have any observations, analyze them, but on the December 30 meeting I want it to be on the agenda and to approve it. If you still have proposals, please go ahead. Thank you, media representatives.



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