Adherence to good lawmaking principles is linked to the rule of law. To ensure the production of good legislation, provisions of the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament regulate individual issues related to the legislative process and set certain rules that must be followed when drafting and submitting a bill or an amendment for voting (see, inter alia, Articles 74, 75 of the Constitution, Articles 85, 87, 88 and 101 and in general Articles 84-123 and 160 of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament). Furthermore, law 4622/2019 regulates, through Articles 57 to 64, issues of legislative procedure and good legislation.
Based on these general rules and Article 59 paragraph 5 of law 4622/2019, the Manual of Legislative Drafting Methodology, issued in 2020, analyses and specifies the rules that must be observed in the framework of the legislative drafting process. This handbook provides, inter alia, instructions and directions regarding: the consultation process (see, inter alia, p. 12-13, 67-68); amendments (see, inter alia, p. 4, 18, 63, 70-71, 77-78); the issue of repealed provisions (p. 16 and 35), and even the title of a bill (p. 18-19, 47).
A. On 30 March 2023 at 23:55, the Ministry of Interior published a bill for public consultation entitled: “Regulations relating to Local Authorities – regulations concerning special electoral spaces for disabled persons and the right to vote – provisions for the welfare of companion animals – provisions for the human resources of the public sector – other provisions of the Ministry of Interior”. This draft consisted of 27 articles (Parts A-D) and, as indicated in its title, regulated various (albeit unrelated) issues within the competence of the Ministry of Interior. The consultation was due to end on 4 April 2023 at 09:00, i.e. almost 5 days later.
C. Between 7-11 April 2023 (i.e. until the day the law was adopted by Parliament), six further ministerial amendments were submitted). It should be noted that: a) these amendments contained a total of 63 articles (i.e. more articles than those contained in the bill at the time that it was submitted for voting); b) 5 of the 6 amendments were submitted after the deadline for submitting amendments had already expired (4 of them, in fact, were submitted on the very day that the bill was voted on); c) 4 of the 6 amendments came from other Ministries, and therefore contained – de facto – provisions irrelevant to the subject matter of the law. It is worth mentioning at this point that the scope of the bill was already rather general as it aimed to regulate a number of issues within the competence of the Ministry of Interior.
D. On April 11, 2023, the bill was passed. Law 5043/2023 is now entitled “Regulations relating to Local Authorities – regulations concerning special electoral spaces for disabled persons and the right to vote – provisions for the welfare of companion animals – provisions for the human resources of the public sector – other provisions of the Ministry of Interior, and other urgent provisions” and consists of 124 articles. These articles seem to regulate a number of unrelated issues, whose ‘urgent’ nature are not always clearly discernible.
In this case a number of principles and rules of good lawmaking do not seem to have been taken into account, such as the fact that a number of the provisions included in the legislation were not submitted to public consultation at all; the public consultation process for the original bill was shortened beyond what is legally foreseen, without any justification; amendments were submitted to the bill both after the deadline for amendments had expired as well as the fact that they contained provisions unrelated to the subject matter of the legislation
In a state governed by the rule of law, the Government and the Parliament must create laws in accordance with both the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament, as well as the other rules that have been established to guarantee and promote good and transparent lawmaking practices.
In Greece, however, the violation of these rules of good lawmaking appears to be a long-standing and systematic problem, as highlighted by the legislative journey of Law 5043/2023.
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