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Romania

Transparency in the Funding of Political Parties (RO0056)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Romania Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP)

Support Institution(s): Secretariat General of the Government, Centre for Public Innovation Expert Forum Political parties and alliances Minorities’ organisations participating in elections Independent candidates

Policy Areas

Access to Information, E-Government, Legislation & Regulation, Legislative, Open Data, Political Integrity

IRM Review

IRM Report: Pending IRM Review

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Transparency in the funding of political parties
2018-2020 Lead implementing agency/actor Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP) Other actors involved State actors Secretariat General of the Government CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups Centre for Public Innovation Expert Forum Political parties and alliances Minorities’ organisations participating in elections Independent candidates What is the public problem that the commitment will address? The Law on Funding Political Parties has clear and detailed provisions on the information that parties have to provide about their sources of funding and spending, both during and between the electoral campaigns. Permanent Electoral Authority collects this information. Some of them are published in the Official Gazette, others on the AEP website, and some are only available on request. Those published both in the Official Gazette and on the AEP website are available in closed formats, which are hard to process. There is no centralized information system that allows quick access to information, search, comparison, and correlation with other data. Commitment description What is the commitment? Publishing in an open format the information provided by political parties on their sources of financing and expenditures, as provisioned by law. How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem? - Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values? Increased transparency in the funding of political parties Milestone activity with a verifiable deliverable Responsible agency / partner Start Date: End Date: Development of standards and specifications for reporting the required 2018 2018 22 data to the AEP by political parties, as provisioned by law. Development and approval of draft legislation to complement the secondary legislation already in place, with the aim of simplifying the reporting procedures and formats, as well as to introduce the mandatory reporting of data to the AEP in an open format, as provisioned by law. AEP / Government of Romania 2018 June 2019 Publishing the data as submitted by political as open data. AEP July 2019 permanent Additional information Budget As necessary to hire two persons on parliamentary adviser status Correlation with other government programs/strategies National Anticorruption Strategy 2016-2020

IRM Midterm Status Summary

9. Transparency in the funding of political parties

Commitment Text: "Publishing in an open format the information provided by political parties on their sources of financing and expenditures, as provisioned by law."

Milestones:

    • Development of standards and specifications for reporting the required data to the AEP by political parties, as provisioned by law.
    • Development and approval of draft legislation to complement the secondary legislation already in place, with the aim of simplifying the reporting procedures and formats, as well as to introduce the mandatory reporting of data to the AEP in an open format, as provisioned by law.
    • Publishing the data as submitted by political parties as open data.

Start Date: 2018

End Date: July 2019

Editorial Note: The commitment text is abridged. The full text can be found in the OGP 2018-2020 national action plan.

Context and Objectives

Law 334/2006 requires political parties to provide information about the sources of their funding and about their spending, both during and between the electoral campaigns to the Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP). [78] According to an interviewed AEP representative, AEP publishes a fraction of the electronic reports it receives from political competitors (in accordance to law 334/2006) on its website and on the finantarepartide.ro portal since 2019. [79] All forms of electronic documents were uploaded, including noneditable documents (e.g., scanned copies of printed documents that cannot be machine read). While many reports published in 2019 were in editable formats, civil society representatives argued that prior to 2019, most reports were published in noneditable formats. [80] According to a representative of the Center for Public Innovation (CPI), in order to view trends or conduct investigations, the data needs to be transformed into an editable (open) format—e.g., where computers can distinguish numbers, signatures, names, and where similar metrics are used. [81]

Since 2015, the law has been amended several times to provide extra public funding to political parties—e.g., in May 2015, Article 38 was amended to reimburse the campaign costs of parties and candidates who obtained 3 percent or more of the votes, and in January 2018, Article 18 was amended to increase the state funding allocated to political parties to 0.01-0.04 percent of the GDP. Expert Forum and the CPI therefore proposed this commitment, arguing that the large allocation of public funds [82] warrants a greater degree of transparency and openness in format. [83] Currently, data on these funds take time to gather, and are hard to access, search, compare, and correlate with other data. [84]

While verifiable, some of the commitment’s milestones do not explain how they will advance beyond current practice or achieve the commitment’s goal. According to the AEP representative, law 334/2006, HG 10/2016, and the "Guide for electoral campaign financing for the election of the Romanian Members of the European Parliament 26 May 2019" [85] already detail the types of documents that political parties need to present to AEP in editable format. [86] It is unclear which standards and specifications will be further developed, and AEP is still considering how to obligate political parties to supply their reports in an open format. Moreover, AEP reports on the controls of reimbursements to political parties for their campaign expenditures are added on a rolling basis, [87] although not always in an open format. If implemented, therefore, this commitment could have a moderate potential impact by allowing civil society to more easily monitor political spending, electoral fairness, and possibly uncover more fraud and corruption cases. [88]

Next steps

With 37,000,000 euros allocated in 2018 for funding political parties, Romania has the highest level of political subsidy in the EU. [89] Transparency of these subsidies is therefore crucial to the prevention of cronyism and to the preservation of democracy. Consequently, the IRM researcher recommends continuing to increase the transparency of political party finances in future action plans. The following suggestions can help improve this commitment’s design in the next action plan and the scope of intended activities during implementation.

  • Milestone 9.1: AEP could clearly define which reporting standards and specifications it will develop. Expert Forum has expressed concerns that law 334/2006 does not clearly stipulate whether unspent political subsidies must be returned to the state budget or can be kept by political parties, or if subsidies can be used for financing EU parliamentary campaigns according to ordinance (OUG) 6/2019. [90] AEP could therefore develop standards and specifications for political parties to detail how they have spent the state subsidies in during their political campaigns.
  • Milestone 2: AEP could publish the analysis and the recommendations put forward by the the ARGUS project’s diagnostic analysis of the process of controlling the financing of political parties and electoral campaigns. [91] This could allow the public to understand where the bottlenecks lie and what the best solutions to tackling them could be.
  • Milestone 2: As AEP does not have the resources to transform the reports in noneditable formats into editable (open) formats, it could persuade political parties to provide this data directly in an editable (open format) through a normative act [92] or by collecting the reports only through the web platform. If AEP were to collect the reports only through its web platform, it could indirectly impose the editable open formats onto the reports it receives. [93]
  • Milestone 3: AEP could upload historical datasets on the same platform—preferably in open formats and, if not possible, in noneditable formats—to ensure that financial reports of political parties are centralized in a single repository.

Finally, according to the AEP representative, the deadline for the implementation of this commitment may need to be extended to the second half of 2020 because of the frequency of legislative modifications in the field of political finances (i.e., law 148/2019, OUG 6/2019, and OUG 29/2019), cumulated with the Parliamentary Elections in November 2019. [94]

[78] Law 334/2006 on the funding of the activities of political parties and of political campaigns, available [in Romanian] at https://bit.ly/2ZOlenW.

[79] Interview with Octavian Chesaru, Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP), 28 August 2019.

[80] Interview with Septimiu Parvu, Expert Forum, 23 April 2019; Interview with Ovidiu Voicu, Center for Public Innovation (CPI), 16 April 2019.

[81] Interview with Ovidiu Voicu, CPI, 16 April 2019.

[82] Romania has one of the highest budgets allocated for the financing of political campaigns in the EU. See Expert Forum (2019) "Bugetele partidelor româneşti", policy brief 74, available [in Romanian] at http://bit.ly/2lXLduA.

[83] Interview with Ovidiu Voicu, ibid.

[84] Interview with Septimiu Parvu, Expert Forum, 23 April 2019; Interview with Ovidiu Voicu, CPI, 16 April 2019.

[85] "Ghidul Finanțării Campaniei Electorale La Alegerea Membrilor Din România În Parlamentul European", Autoritatea Electorala Permanenta, April 2019, available [in Romanian] at http://bit.ly/2mjW81J.

[86] Interview with Octavian Chesaru, AEP, 28 August 2019.

[87] Interview with Octavian Chesaru, AEP, 28 August 2019.

[88] Interview with Ovidiu Voicu, CPI, 16 April 2019.

[89] Expert Forum (2019) "Bugetele partidelor româneşti", policy brief 74, pg. 3, available [in Romanian] at http://bit.ly/2lXLduA.

[90] Expert Forum (2019) "Bugetele partidelor româneşti", policy brief 74, available [in Romanian] at http://bit.ly/2lXLduA.

[91] AEP carries out, as a beneficiary, the ARGUS project "Integrity, ethics, transparency, anticorruption in the financing of political parties and electoral campaigns," a project co-financed from the European Social Fund through the Operational Program Administrative Capacity 2014-2020.

[92] Interview with Ovidiu Voicu, CPI, 16 April 2019).

[93] Interview with Septimiu Parvu, Expert Forum, 23 April 2019.

[94] Interview with Octavian Chesaru, AEP, 28 August 2019.


Commitments

  1. Standardize Public Consultation Practices

    RO0048, 2018, E-Government

  2. Open Local Government

    RO0049, 2018, Capacity Building

  3. Citizen Budgets

    RO0050, 2018, Capacity Building

  4. Youth Participation

    RO0051, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Register of Civil Society Proposals

    RO0052, 2018, E-Government

  6. Access to Information – Local

    RO0053, 2018, Capacity Building

  7. Online Business Sector Information

    RO0054, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. Digital Consular Services

    RO0055, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Transparency in the Funding of Political Parties

    RO0056, 2018, Access to Information

  10. National Investment Fund Transparency

    RO0057, 2018, Access to Information

  11. Civil Servant Training

    RO0058, 2018, Capacity Building

  12. Raise Awareness About Corruption

    RO0059, 2018, Capacity Building

  13. Transparency of Seized Assets

    RO0060, 2018, Access to Information

  14. Access to Social Services

    RO0061, 2018, E-Government

  15. Open Access to Research

    RO0062, 2018, Access to Information

  16. Open Education

    RO0063, 2018, Access to Information

  17. Evaluate Open Data

    RO0064, 2018, Access to Information

  18. Open Data

    RO0065, 2018, Access to Information

  19. Improving the Legal Framework and Practices Regarding Access to Public Interest Information

    RO0030, 2016, Access to Information

  20. Centralized Publishing of Public Interest Information on the Single Gateway Transparenta.Gov.Ro

    RO0031, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Promoting Open Parliament Principles

    RO0032, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. Starred commitment Improved Management of the Applications Submitted for Granting Citizenship

    RO0033, 2016, Capacity Building

  23. Standardization of Transparency Practices in the Decision-Making Procedures

    RO0034, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Centralised Publication of Legislative Projects on the Single Gateway Consultare.Gov.Ro

    RO0035, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Citizens Budgets

    RO0036, 2016, Capacity Building

  26. Improve Youth Consultation and Public Participation

    RO0037, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Subnational Open Government

    RO0038, 2016, Capacity Building

  28. Promoting Transparency in the Decision-Making Process By Setting Up a Transparency Register (RUTI)

    RO0039, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  29. Access to Performance Indicators Monitored in the Implementation of the National Anticorruption Strategy (SNA)

    RO0040, 2016, Access to Information

  30. Improve Transparency in the Management of Seized Assets

    RO0041, 2016, Access to Information

  31. Annual Mandatory Training of Civil Servants on Integrity Matters

    RO0042, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  32. Improving Access to Cultural Heritage

    RO0043, 2016, Capacity Building

  33. Open Data and Transparency in Education

    RO0044, 2016, Access to Information

  34. Virtual School Library and Open Educational Resources

    RO0045, 2016, Capacity Building

  35. Open Contracting

    RO0046, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  36. Increasing the Quality and Quantity of Published Open Data

    RO0047, 2016, Access to Information

  37. Publishing the Public Interest Information on a Single Government Portal: Transparenta.Gov.Ro

    RO0019, 2014, Access to Information

  38. Making an Inventory of the Datasets Produced by the Ministries and Subordinate Agencies

    RO0020, 2014, Access to Information

  39. Starred commitment Ensuring the Free Online Access to National Legislation

    RO0021, 2014, E-Government

  40. Amending Law 109/2007 on the Re-Use of Public Sector Information

    RO0022, 2014, Access to Information

  41. Opening Data Collected from the National Health System

    RO0023, 2014, Access to Information

  42. Opening Data Collected from the Monitoring of Preventive Measures as Part of the National Anticorruption Strategy 2012-2015

    RO0024, 2014, Access to Information

  43. Open Contracting

    RO0025, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  44. Opening up Data Resulted from Publicly-Funded Research Projects

    RO0026, 2014, E-Government

  45. Increasing the Quality and Quantity of Published Open Data

    RO0027, 2014, Access to Information

  46. Human Resource Training in the Field of Open Data

    RO0028, 2014, Access to Information

  47. Disseminating Information on the OGP Principles and Promoting the Open Data Concept in an Accessible Manner

    RO0029, 2014,

  48. Designating a Person Responsible for Publishing Open Data in Each Public Institution

    RO0001, 2012, Access to Information

  49. Identifying Regulatory Needs, Logistical and Technical Solutions

    RO0002, 2012, Access to Information

  50. Making an Inventory of Available (High-Value) Data-Sets

    RO0003, 2012, Access to Information

  51. Priority Publishing on the Web Pages of Public Institutions of Specific Data-Sets

    RO0004, 2012, Access to Information

  52. Initiating Pilot-Projects, in Partnerships

    RO0005, 2012, Access to Information

  53. Organizing Public Debates on the Utility of Open Data, in Partnerships

    RO0006, 2012, Access to Information

  54. Uniform, Machine-Readable Publishing Format for Open Data

    RO0007, 2012, Access to Information

  55. Procedures for Publication of Data-Sets Based on Civil Society Recommendations

    RO0008, 2012, Access to Information

  56. Procedures for Citizen Complaints Pertaining to Open Data

    RO0009, 2012, Access to Information

  57. Consultation Mechanism Between Suppliers and Beneficiaries of Open Data

    RO0010, 2012, Access to Information

  58. Creating a Rating System for the Assessment of High-Value Data-Sets

    RO0011, 2012, Access to Information

  59. Routinely Publishing Specific Data-Sets on Web Pages of Public Institutions

    RO0012, 2012, Access to Information

  60. Integrating Open Data from Public Institutions in a Single National Platform

    RO0013, 2012, Access to Information

  61. Inventories of Data, in Order to Facilitate Public Access

    RO0014, 2012, Access to Information

  62. Institute a Monitoring Mechanism of Compliance for Open Data

    RO0015, 2012, Access to Information

  63. Stimulating the Market for Innovative Use of Open Data

    RO0016, 2012, Access to Information

  64. Routinely Publishing Data-Sets on the National Platform, 25% High-Value

    RO0017, 2012, Access to Information

  65. The Public Procurement Electronic System (SEAP). the Electronic Allocation System for Transports (SAET)/B.1 C) Expanding the On-Line Submission of Fiscal Forms. Ensuring the Free On-Line Access to National Legislation. Developing Electronic Tools to Manage Subpoenas and Facilitate Access Toinformation Regarding Legal Proceedings. Developing Electronic Tools to Manage the Procedures Related to Obtaining the Romanian Citizenship. Developing Electronic Tools to Manage the Procedures Related to the Creation of Non-Profit Legal Persons. the Integrated System for Electronic Access to Justice (SIIAEJ)

    RO0018, 2012, Access to Justice

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