How (if at all) is the national Parliament, in the Member State hosting your Representation, involved in the government’s agreement to mandate for EU international negotiations?
According to Law no. 590/2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for undergoing the negotiations necessary for the approval of international agreements or treaties. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiates a memorandum for approving the treaty and will need the approval of all relevant Ministries and it requires the Prime-Minister’s signature as approval. The Parliament is not involved in the process of international negotiations. The Parliament has an important role after the process of international negotiations are finished when the Parliament must approve the draft bill ratifying a treaty of an international agreement.
Which Parliamentary chambers are responsible for the ratification of an EU mixed agreement (e.g. trade or law enforcement)?
According to the Constitution of Romania, Article 148, joining constitutive treaties of the European Union is accomplished through the adoption of a law in a joint Plenum of the 2 Chambers, by two-thirds of the Deputies and Senators (international treaties that do not concern such constitutive treaties are instead presented for debate and adoption to the Chamber of Deputies as the First Chamber, and afterwards adopted or rejected definitely by the Senate, which is the decisional Chamber, according to Article 75). This is also stipulated in the Regulation for the Functioning of the Senate, where Article 92, paragraph 8 mentions that “the Senate debates and adopts, as decisional Chamber, the draft bill and legislative proposals adopted by the Chamber of Deputies, upon being notified by it, in regard to draft bills and legislative proposal for the ratification of treaties or other international agreements and the legislative measures resulting from applying the stipulations of said treaties or agreements”.
According to Law no. 590/2003 regarding treaties, both Chambers can notify the Constitutional Court regarding the compatibility of treaties with the Constitution of Romania. This can be done either by the Chairpersons of the 2 Chambers, 25 Senators or 50 Deputies.
Regarding the ratification of EU mixed agreements, the Senate is the decisional Chamber, according to Article 75 of the Constitution and Article 92, paragraph 8 of the previously mentioned Regulation concerning the functioning of the Senate.
What are the parliamentary steps in the ratification process of an EU mixed agreement in that Member State?
In general, the negotiation and ratification of treaties is regulated by law no. 4/1991, according to which international treaties, as well as accords, conventions and agreements signed by the Romanian government, which refer to political and military cooperation, making it necessary to adopt new laws or revise the laws in force, as well as those treaties that involve a political or financial commitment or refer to problems regarding the political and territorial regime of the state or the status of persons, citizens’ rights and freedoms or participation in international organizations, are subject to Parliament for ratification by law. The types of treaties that must be ratified by the Parliament are further detailed in law no. 590/2003. EU mixed agreements, such as CETA, fall under the incidence of law no. 276/2011.
Step by step:
A bill is initiated by the Government, drafted in accordance to the technicalities outlined in law 590/2003, art. 23(1) and adopted in a Government sitting. Further on, the bill is sent to the Parliament for ratification. As previously stated, in the case of draft bills for the ratification of treaties that fall under the incidence of Law no. 4/1991 and article (19) of Law no. 590/2003, the first notified body is the Chamber of Deputies. The draft bill is registered for debate and presented in the Standing Bureau. The Bureau may approve an emergency procedure for the adoption of the draft bill. The Bureau assigns Permanent Committees to analyse the bill, subsequently, sending it for notices and a report, which must be voted by the plenum of the Chamber.
If the plenum is in favour of the bill, then it is sent to the Senate, as the decisional forum, going through the same stages. If the Senate adopts the bill, the normative act is sent to the Secretariat General, in order to allow all parties to exercise their right to notify the Constitutional Court. If no notification is submitted, the bill is sent for signing into law by the president of Romania and is, subsequently, published in the Official Gazette.
According to art. 90 of the „The Functioning of the Senate”, the draft bill for the ratification of international treaties are debated as a priority.
Any of the two bodies of the Parliament (or the president of Romania, following the adoption by the decisional chamber) can send the bill back for an additional report, given that there is a vote in the plenum in favour of such a procedure.
In case of a notification of unconstitutionality, the Parliamentary procedure is suspended until it is judged by the Romanian Constitutional Court. In accordance to art. 146, letter (b) of the Constitution, if the draft bill is deemed unconstitutional, the parliamentary procedure ends, given that the Parliament cannot bring amendments that align the provisions declared unconstitutional with the decision of the Constitutional Court without interfering with the treaties’ corpus.
It is worth mentioning that the president of Romania can also return the bill for re-examination. In this case, the bill is sent for a report to the rapporteur Committee that will draft a report in which it will make proposals based on the president’s objections.
Which Parliamentary committee(s) is/are responsible for overseeing EU negotiations with third countries?
The Senate is the main institution responsible for the negotiation of European Affairs. While the Senate does not oversee EU negotiations with third countries directly, it is subject to the process of Parliamentary Scrutiny, in accordance to the Treaty of Lisbon (Protocol no. 1 and no. 2). As such, the Committee for European Affairs, the Service for European Affairs are the main agents that could be involved in negotiations. The Committee for European Affairs is the integrating committee that delegates, from its members, the rapporteur senator on each of the European documents under parliamentary scrutiny.
The Committee for European Affairs receives analysis documents from the European Affairs Service (which elaborates summary sheets), and other the specialized commissions (which elaborate opinions or minutes) and the European Affairs departments of to the Ministries (which elaborate points of view). The Committee on European Affairs, during weekly meetings, sets up meetings with government representatives and draws up reports or minutes on a case-by-case basis. The report document of the Committee for European Affairs is sent to the European Affairs Service, after its discussion and approval in the Senate plenum, in order to elaborate a point of view.
As previously mentioned, the Parliament does not oversee Government negotiations, besides the ability to scrutinize the activity of the EU Parliament and Commission, derived from the obligations stipulated by the Treaty of Lisbon (Protocol no. 1 and no. 2). However, when ratifying a treaty, the bodies which are most inclined to bring amendments would be the Committee for External Affairs, the Committee for European Affairs, the Committee for Legal Matters, and any other committee that specializes in the matters covered by the treaty (in the case of CETA, the reporting Committee is specialized in Economics, Industry and Services, other ratifying bills are sent to the Committee for Budget or the Committee for Human Rights).
Indeed, the „Rules of the Chamber of Deputies” stipulate that the Committee for External Affairs has a role in drafting a notice with regards to treaties, conventions and other international instruments that Romania adheres to.
It is good to understand that every Committee in the Chamber of Deputies has a counterpart in the Senate. While there is no unitary procedure, a simple analysis of the ratification bills adopted in 2018 shows that, for reports and notices, the legislative proposals are sent to the same Committees in both bodies of the Parliament.
Who are the rapporteurs and/or party spokespeople responsible for the matter, and the names of any other influential MPs?
Since the Permanent Committees for External Affairs are the main rapporteurs for ratification bills, we are inclined to believe that the presidents, UDMR deputy Biró Rozália-Ibolya and PSD senator Dumitrescu Cristian Sorin, are the most influent spokespeople among the peers.
We deduce that Crețu Gabriela, president of the Senate Committee for European Affairs, could be another important stakeholder, seconded by her Chamber of Deputies counterpart, Angel Tilvăr. Crețu is an outspoken member of PSD and member of the of parliamentary groups responsible for friendly relationships with Spain, Belgium and Spain. On December 3rd, 2019, she intervened on the second day of the COSAC plenary, to recall the efforts made by Romania, during the rotating Presidency of the EU Council, to adopt a contingency plan, needed in the case of Brexit.
Another body that could influence negotiations with third countries is the Delegation of the Parliament of Romania to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. The is composed of 14 members and is presided by Lucian Romașcanu, PSD senator and chairman of the Senate Committee for Culture. The list of members can be consulted here.
The contact details (email, phone number) for the relevant committees and individuals
Chamber of Deputies – Committee for External Affairs Secretariat:
- Email: email@example.com
Senate – Committee for External Affairs Secretariat:
- Tel: 021 312 28 79
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chamber of Deputies – Committee for European Affairs:
- Email: email@example.com
Senate – Committee for European Affairs:
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tel: +4 021 414 29 46
Secretariat of the Delegation of the Parliament of Romania to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
- Tel: +4 021 414 2148
- E-mail: email@example.com