“The first two titles of the Constitution are almost finished”

Wednesday, the 5th of June, the Romanian Senate made public the statements of the president regarding the activity of the Joint Standing Committee of the Chamber of the Deputies and the Senate for elaborating the project for revising the Constitution, according to an official statement.

Crin Antonescu: “As for the proceedings of the Committee for revising the Constitution, we made progress – there were two days of working. In fact, the first two titles of the Constitution are almost ready – Title 1, regarding general principles, and the second, regarding fundamental rights and duties.

I’ve seen a lot of misunderstandings, even confusions in public statements regarding the proceedings and I would like to clarify them. Firstly, there were proposals which were rejected not on the content, but because the committee considered that they were not in the right place to be. For example, a subject which generated heated debate was the one regarding the Orthodox Church’s  place in the history of Romania, in the evolution and the identity of the Romanian nation.

There was, indeed, an article which was proposed, an amendment which proposed it as an article. It was rejected, with a large majority for a reason regarding the form. It is highly likely that the content, the idea of this article will be introduced in the preamble, because, meanwhile, it has been estabilished that this Constitution will have an preamble, unlike the other forms – and, in fact, for the first time – of the Romanian Constitution. In this preamble thoughts of value like this one will find their place and not, like the committee considered, in the actual articles of the Constitution which refer to liberties, duties, institutions and so on.

There have been made, in my opinion, very important steps and there already are changes of some constitutional articles, as well as the formulation of some new articles which are important and bring up to date, in a very advanced form, the Romanian Constitution, especially the aspects concerning the rights of the citizens, individual rights and their guarantees. I’d say, before all, that this I salute. As the representatives of the media which permanently took part to the proceedings could see, the proceedings take place in a very open-minded spirit, very official, without demagogism and politicianism, without absurd partisanism when the general principles of the constitution are discussed.

It is not unimportant the fact that up until now, the majority of the decisions, no matter if for approving amendments, or rejecting them, were taken with unanimity or with a large majority. We can talk, at least, of consensual decisions, until this moment. There will be moments when we will not have, probably, a consensus like this, but as for now – which is what matters – we can talk of consensus regarding the strengthening and diversification of the rights and liberties of the citizens, for strengthening and guaranteeing them. I consider this a good thing, from which all of Romania’s citizens will profit.
There were articles which were particularly interesting. Today I’m going to mention a fact that I consider very important and which puts at a constitutional level for the first time the equality of the state’s debts and the fiscal contributions of the citizens, companies, all the other institutions. Up until now there was frequently discussed the fact that there is not a equal legal system regarding the responsibility of the state as well as for private companies.

Also, there are few amendment which have strengthened the right to defense and equality in trials because, in all this years in which we gathered experience and came to the conclusion that we need a revision of the Constitution, the fact that this principle needs to be strengthened in the Constitution stood up because what signifies equality of means or equality between the defense and the accused in the criminal trial must be stipulated.

There is also, a growth in number of the constitutional stipulations against discrimination of any kind, like the ones, for example, against sexual orientations.  There are, also, many articles which introduce new categories of rights, there are stipulations through which the responsibility of the state for guaranteeing this rights becomes more clear. Moreover, there even is a novelty, that when we talk about the responsibility of the state for wrong decision for motives of malice or negligence from some magistrates – obviously the state takes the blame – there is the possibility that the state can turn against those who are to blame for the malice or the negligence. There was the case of some sentences given by the ECHR in which Romanian citizens which were done injustice were indemnified by the Romanian state for some judicial errors, case in which, in fact, all the other citizens pay and not the one that did wrong.

Finally I would like to mention the fact that there has been discussed a thing that concerns all the citizens with the right to vote, this is the age at which people should have the right to choose and be chosen. Our deputy colleague Alina Gorghiu and other colleagues support the idea of reducing the age to 16. This proposal has not been adopted by the committee.

Also, it has been supported the idea of leveling down the age regarding the right to be chosen, from 23 to 21 years, which is, in fact, how it is in many European countries. Neither did this proposal passed but the vote was very balanced and it is possible that in plenum to generate a serious debate. I once again thank to all my committee colleagues, I also thank those from the Constitutional Forum which came with a great deal of proposals and amendments and who, most importantly, pointed to concerns of the Romanian society regarding rights and liberties.

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