A draft law on lobbying is currently awaiting the vote in the Romanian Parliament, after having been greenlighted by the judicial commission in the Chamber of Deputies, but lobbying professionals don’t believe it will yield the planned results.
The Chamber’s vote, which is the final vote needed for the law to pass, was scheduled for Tuesday, December 10.
UPDATE: The law was sent back to commissions for further debates, and it was no longer included on the Tuesday vote session list.
The law, an initiative of Social Democrat MP Constantin Nita, features several measures meant to make lobbying more transparent. One of them is publishing al the lobbying contracts in a national register by the National Council of Lobbying Professionals. This would allow anyone to check whether someone is a lobbyist and whom they represent. Those who have a criminal record cannot become lobbyists, according to the law, nor those without university studies.
The law also forbids the traffic of influence, which sometimes passes as lobbying. However, by law, lobbying professionals will not be allowed to promise or give anything to a public clerk to get benefits for their cause or their client. An MP or a high state employee can only lobby about something which is related to their work area.
But the changes to the legislation have left lobbying professionals unhappy. Laura Florea, the president of the Romanian Lobby Registry Association, said she was disappointed that Romania went a different direction than that of the European Commission and of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
In fact, the new law will only regulate the activity of around 10 percent of lobbyists, and these would be consultancy companies, which would publish their interest and contracts, said Laura Florea, quoted by Hotnews.ro. The rest of 90 percent, made of business people, companies, employers unions, employee unions, NGOs and lawyers will continue to work in a non-transparent manner, as lobbying is described as the activity meant to influence in favor of third parties based on a lobby contract.
Florea added that similar legislation passed in Poland and Hungary and it turned out to lack functionality, so it is being changed. However, at European level, everyone who lobbies, either as an individual, or part of a consultancy company has to register at the joint Registry for Transparency within the European Commission and Parliament.