The private sector, an important part of the decision-making process in the context of the accession of the Republic of Moldova to the European Union

Lack of transparency in governance is one of the serious problems facing the business community. In this sense, Parliament needs effective cooperation platforms for establishing public-private dialogue and business consultation in the decision-making process. These platforms will create the conditions for a sustainable partnership between business and Parliament. These are some of the conclusions of the public discussion "The private sector, an important part of the decision-making process in the context of the accession of the Republic of Moldova to the European Union", held on September 30. The event was organized by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Policy (CAPE), with the support of the International Center for Private Entrepreneurship (CIPE).

The public discussion addressed the subject of the consultative process in the Parliament, the obstacles to the Parliament's dialogue with business in the legislative process, but also the measures to make the consultative process in the Parliament more efficient, assumed by the Republic of Moldova in the process of joining the European Union.

"CAPE experts, together with the most active business associations, express their openness to participate in the decision-making process in order to transform it into a transparent and inclusive process, similar to a European practice", said the director of CAPE, Tatiana Lariușin.

"The business environment, which constitutes the most active part of society, wants to become a partner of the state in the economic development of the country or at least an actor to be taken into account, especially since this right is stipulated by law", it is opinion of CAPE lawyer, Viorel Pîrvan. According to the jurist, Parliament must start the process of setting up cooperation platforms; to consult business and society in advance to see everyone's opinion on how these platforms should look; to regulate the procedures and rules regarding the activity of these platforms; to establish clear criteria and norms regarding the identification of representative interested parties, which will be consulted when examining draft laws that may affect them.

In her turn, CAPE program director Veronica Russu-Marin emphasized the importance of public-private dialogue: "Transparency is an important component of the rule of law and business has an important role in ensuring transparency by participating in the decision-making process. Business associations want to get involved as effectively as possible in the process of drafting and consulting draft laws and normative acts".

On 23.06.2022, the Republic of Moldova was granted the status of a candidate country for the European Union, with several necessary measures being indicated in the Opinion on Moldova's application for membership of the European Union, such as the launch and operationalization of a permanent platform for cooperation with civil society at the Parliament level. In response, the Government developed an Action Plan for the implementation of the measures proposed by the European Commission, which also provides for the creation of the cooperation platform. However, currently, in the Parliament, there are no advisory councils established in addition to the permanent commissions, nor permanent working groups as instruments of public consultation.

In this sense, Marian Cepoi, from the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy - European Commission, spoke about the experience of public consultations at the European level: "Most commissions organize regular hearings, because they allow them to hear from experts and hold discussions with regarding the key issues. Workshops are organized by policy departments and allow members to ask questions and exchange views. They are not necessarily held in public, but may be held during a committee meeting. In turn, organizations, networks or interested persons carrying out activities aimed at influencing the EU decision-making process must register in the Transparency Register".

According to the analysis "Transparency of the legislative process: between the image of the Parliament and the urgency of adopting laws", signed by Viorel Pîrvan, the Parliament continues to remain stagnant in terms of transparency and public information about its activity. Deficiencies in ensuring the transparency of the legislative process are primarily determined by the imperfections of the regulatory framework and the dispersion of norms in several acts. Secondly, the problems are caused by the non-application in practice of the legal norms, intended to ensure an efficient and transparent legislative process. As a result, the process of public consultation of draft legislative acts within the permanent parliamentary committees is difficult and incomplete, which limits the possibility of interested parties to present their position and formulate recommendations.

In this sense, the representatives of the private sector are concerned about the fact that they are not informed and consulted in the case of legislative initiatives that target their activity. The business community claims that the public consultations on important draft laws that in themselves regulate the business environment, have a purely formal character, and business proposals are not taken into account.

"We discussed the law on advertising for seven years, and in March this law was approved, a law that, in our opinion, will not work. And although public hearings were held in which we participated; our suggestions were not taken into account. The decision-makers talked to us, but they didn't listen to us, and I have the impression that these hearings have a decorative format. The biggest problem we face is the fact that there is no public institution that monitors compliance with this law", says Galina Zablovscaia, director of the Association of Advertising Agencies from Moldova.

"Who should manage the activity of these consultative platforms and does the Parliament need them? I think that a regulation regarding the activity of these platforms should be developed at the level of the Parliament", proposes Vladimir Corobcă, from the National Office of Vine and Wine.

Thus, in order to make the consultative process more efficient, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Policy will draw up a position paper with the proposals of the business environment for the joint establishment of intervention directions to make the decision-making process more efficient, and as future actions a public discussion with the representatives of the Parliament regarding commitments on the subject of transparency of the Republic of Moldova as a candidate country for the European Union.