After much deliberation, the Romanian Government has passed Government Emergency Ordinance no. 41/2016. (“GEO 41”). This has been in full force since June 30th, 2016 when the Government adopted several measures intended to facilitate legal procedures in front of public authorities, minimize the efforts required to obtain certain official documents, and consolidate digital procedures within the central public administration. The adopted measures are aimed at reducing bureaucracy and simplifying the administrative procedures involved in dealing with public authorities.
Public authorities are now obliged to accept documents issued by public/private entities electronically, having a qualified or advanced electronic signature. This is in accordance with the provisions of European Union Regulation no. 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market.
Public institutions and central governmental authorities are now required to use mainly electronic means of communications with the beneficiaries of public services if the beneficiary agrees to provide an e-mail address. From June 30th 2016, public institutions and authorities must provide an e-mail address on their websites that citizens can use to send an electronic ID copy. A competent official within each public institution must certify the document on the spot, without requesting legalized copies from the applicant.
Other measures adopted by the Government relate to payment methods and evidence of payment. Public institutions have the obligation to offer alternative payment methods for public services charges, fines and taxes, such as card payment, electronic systems or other payment systems. GEO 41 sets forth the possibility for citizens to provide payment evidence of traffic fines via e-mail. Furthermore, payment evidence is no longer required if the relevant fine has been paid online.
New rules will also be applied to identity documents. The issuance of identity cards, the issuance and extension of identity documents for foreign citizens, and the issuance of criminal records are exempted from an extra-judicial stamp. New rules are also applied to obtaining a driving license, with the purpose of reducing corruption. Authorities will implement an unyielding monitoring system for driving tests, by video recording the theoretical test and the practical examination.
GEO 41 also means further obligations relating to the transparency and predictability of procedures. In the immediate future, public authorities must draft and make transparent relevant information regarding procedures, forms and timing expectations. Communication efficiency obligations must be taken into account, with an emphasis on electronic communication.
In conclusion, the main objective of this new legislative act is to make it easier to access and work with public authorities and provide clear and specific obligations for these authorities to use electronic communications with the public.