Centrul de Drept Constituțional și Instituţii Politice (CDCIP)

Stefan DEACONU, Mihai Horia CUC – The participation of foreigners to the process of democratization of the society, an essential component of a united Europe

The legal framework of each state establishes ways for each individual to participate to the life of the society. Among the means for participation there are the fundamental rights of citizens, some of them also regulated through international documents. Currently Romania is a representative democracy, like many other countries worldwide, meaning that those who hold the State power at a certain point in time are elected to represent the citizens, who do not have direct influence on decisions taken. In fact the only way citizens may directly influence the political life of their country is by voting. This system is getting more and more critics and it may not be long until it will become a thing of the past – at least in Europe. An alternative solution is considered to be the participative democracy, a system where a wide range of decisions are taken directly by citizens, not only those of local interest, but also those of national interest, each individual being encouraged to participate actively to the governing of his/her country.

In our opinion, the reason for this transformation are the profound changes undertaken by Europe as a result of the creation of the European Union. While EU was initially conceived as only an economic union, the political impact over the European citizen was negligible. However, over the last decade the European Union is looking more and more like a super-state, being on the verge of becoming a federal or co-federal state. From this perspective there was a growing feeling among Europeans that their needs would not be fulfilled by the leaders of the new entity for the simple reason that they could not be heard through so many levels of bureaucracy. Also, different communities throughout Europe have different needs and it may be difficult if not impossible to take a centralized decision that will not only be applicable everywhere but will also be operative. Thus decisions became – or rather will become – a localized but globalised matter.

 The next logical step is to ask ourselves why certain rights would be reserved only for citizens of a certain state since most decisions are not a national matter anymore. Besides, what would be the relevance of the European citizenship if it would not confer any fundamental right outsides one’s country of origin? The obvious answer is that since local communities are in charge of taking their own decisions, adopting their own rules, then all members of a community must be allowed to take part in this process. Of course, the rights cannot be accorded indiscriminately to anyone who happens to be in a certain place at a certain moment, he/she must be really integrated in that society. Thus minimal set of requirements should be put in place and decisions regarding national issues may still be reserved for citizens of that state.

Romanian legislation establishes two important sets of rights that guarantees and provides for effective means of participation to the democratic life: electoral rights (right to be elected and right to vote) and the freedom of association. Traditionally, in Romania the first category of rights mentioned above belongs exclusively to Romanian citizens. The freedom of association has a wide applicability, allowing for association in political parties, association in trade unions, association in NGO-s, etc. Following the principles according to which all political rights belong only to citizens, Romanian legislation forbids non-citizens to be members of Romanian political parties, but proves to be very liberal in what concerns the other forms of association.

This paper intends to present a brief overview of the Romanian legislation in matters mentioned above, as well as a Romanian point of view on the future of the Europe. In this light several legislative changes are suggested, together with their social, historical and legal grounds and justification, aiming at becoming starting points for a further discussion on what may be the future of all European citizens.