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CSO funding limitations proposed in Moldova’s new Draft NCO Law

A new Moldovan draft law on Non-commercial Organizations was published for public consultation in July. While the new draft law could be a positive step forward in regulation of non-profit legal entities, the expediently introduced Special Provisions on CSOs’ engagement in political activities contradict the international and European standards on freedom of association, right to participation and freedom of expression.

Update 1: On September 12, the government announced that the draft Law on Non-commercial Organizations will not proceed further. 

For many years, ECNL has been supporting local efforts in creating enabling framework legislation for the operation of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Moldova. Over the past two years, the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Moldova was developing a new draft Law on Noncommercial Organizations. The draft Law was prepared based on analysis of local needs, comparative information and good standards and in consultation with CSOs.

However, the draft published by the Ministry of Justice in July 2017 for a public consultation included a new section – Articles 26-28 with Special Provisions on CSOs’ involvement in political activities and transparency. The Special provisions were introduced expediently, without prior consultation and disregarding the opinion of the cross- sector working group that is responsible for drafting the Law.  

As such, the Special Provisions threaten CSOs’ ability to take part in the conduct of public affairs and their right to access domestic and foreign resources. They also impose additional reporting requirements and penalties, including for managers of the CSOs. The provisions are contrary to international standards and good regulatory practices, and potentially violate domestic laws on transparency in decision-making and some Moldova’s international commitments, such as the Open Government Partnership agenda.

Below we present our major concerns related to the Special Provisions and recommend their full removal from the draft Law in order to ensure that it complies with international standards and best practices.

  1. The Special Provisions go beyond political activities and affect CSOs’ right to participation in public affairs;
  2. The proposed regulation on political activities is discriminatory and will negatively affect CSOs’ right to access resources – domestically from a newly introduced tax designation mechanism and from external funds, i.e. foreign funding;
  3. The Special Provisions introduce excessive reporting requirements to CSOs;
  4. The proposed regulation on liability also establishes harsh and potentially arbitrary sanctions, including personal liability of the managing bodies.

We have submitted our detailed comments to the Ministry of Justice as part of the public consultation, which is open until August 11, 2017.

  • Opinion by the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law on the Special Provisions of the Draft Law on Noncommercial Organizations of the Republic of Moldova
  • Unofficial translation of the draft Law On Non-commercial Organizations (as published  on the Ministry of Justice website on 18 July 2017)
  • Unofficial translation of the Informative note to the draft Law on Noncommercial Organizations

We will upload further information, as it comes through in relation to this draft Law. 

ECNL’s work in Moldova is possible under Moldova Partnership for Sustainable Civil Society Program, implemented by FHI 360 and ECNL with financial support of USAID.