Romanian cabinet to axe language rights with decree

The Romanian government plans to issue an emergency decree – circumventing Parliament – which will effectively abolish minority language rights guaranteed by law.

The decree lacks the changes favorable to minorities, that were enclosed at the proposal of the Democratic Alliance of the Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) in the administrative legal code, that afterwards was pronounced as unconstitutional. The draft is not figuring on the agenda of the Monday session of the cabinet but may be issued  as early as today. Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă said mayors are “eagerly waiting” the acceptance of the administrative legal code and for that reason the government will not wait for the parliament to debate again the draft, that has previously flunked on the constitutional court norm control but it will accept the legislation with an emergency regulation after the elections for the European Parliament.

The ministry of interior released the draft for public last week, without the changes extending language rights asked by RMDSZ. For example the following legal provisions have not been added:

• It is mandatory to write the names of the streets, squares, parks in minority language also in case the proportion of the given minority exceeds twenty percent.

• The use of minority languages will include prefectures (county administrative body), public transportation, and public utilities.

• Application forms in native language will be available helping the administration.

• In municipalities, the 20% will not be mandatory to validate minority rights.

The above regulations mean extra rights for the minorities compared to the current administrative legal code. In the legal code accepted in the parliament as a proposal of the Democratic Alliance of the Hungarians in Romania a clause was added also, that commits the administrative institutions and employees to comply with the conventions and contracts ratified by Romania, among which there is the European Charter of minority languages.

Senator Attila Cseke

This paragraph does not figure in the emergency regulation draft. Senator Attila Cseke, who previously has represented the Democratic Alliance of the Hungarians in Romania in the parliamentary commission developing the administrative legal code says: “this draft is wrong and unacceptable because the government disregards the work of the parliament. The parliamentary committee I was a member of, has worked eight months on the administrative legal code. A draft was completed, that was also supported by Democratic Alliance of the Hungarians in Romania and it was also passed by parliament. This new regulation is unacceptable for the simple reason that it considers the work of the parliament as it has never happened”, the senator added.

Attila Cseke called it a “giant leap back”, that in the draft of the government those native language rights were not added, that initially were present in the text of the administrative legal code previously accepted by the parliament. “In the draft of the regulation there is not one extra right that was previously accepted by the parliament on the proposal of the RMDSZ” The leader of the faction also named as surprising the fact, that according to the draft regulation released for public debate the presidents of the county council would be elected directly during the local elections. This regulation did not figure among the corrective suggestions expressed during the parliamentary debate of the administrative legal code. RMDSZ notify the government coalition, that it considers this draft as unacceptable and that it holds as single solution, that the administrative legal code will contain the regulations already accepted previously. “The situation of the RMDSZ is different now, that it has suspended the cooperation with the coalition, but that does not mean that the Alliance will not proceed in the same way when it comes to language rights”, Cseke said.

Featured image: gov.ro

Author: Blanka Székely