Grayling Central & Eastern European Public Affairs Group has published the second edition of its Grayling AcTrend Report. The study examined laws passed in six CEE countries – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – between 1st August 2014 and 1st August 2015. The report also provides an overview on the political environment and outlook on governments’ activities across the region.
In six Central and Eastern European (CEE) markets, 1041 acts were approved between 1 August 2014 and 1 August 2015. This is 17% more than in the same period last year, when 891 acts were approved. Out of the 1041 acts, 468 had a direct impact on business: more than a third of these impacted the business sector in general (36%). Out of the sector-specific laws, the largest amount of acts were approved for the agriculture (14%) and financial services (14%) sectors, says the Grayling AcTrend Report 2015, prepared by Grayling CEE Public Affairs Practice Group.
Similar to last year’s results, the most active countries of the region remained to be Romania, with 290 acts passed, Poland with 249, and Hungary with 214. However, the research found a significant, 17% increase in the number of acts passed compared to last year, totaling to 1041 acts passed in the six CEE markets over the course of the twelve-month period.
In Romania the pre- and post-electoral context has attracted major media attention, given that one of the candidates in Romania’s 2014 presidential elections was the incumbent Prime Minister Victor Ponta, the leader of Social Democrats. The acts were therefore tracked and reported on by the press as part of his effort to connect legislative changes that could have impacted the presidential race. Legislations became a focus of the media in Bulgaria as the ruling coalition is slightly unstable at the moment, hence each piece of legislation has the potential to create a conflict that may escalate and provoke a government reshuffle.
45% of the approved acts (468 out of 1041) had a direct impact on business, while more than a third of them affected the business sector in general (36%). Out of the sector-specific laws, the largest amount of acts approved was in the financial services (14%) and agriculture (14%) sectors. ICT, industry and interestingly energy were among the least impacted sectors across the region.
Although governments introduced most of the acts related to the business sector (83%), 16% of them were submitted by MPs. Similar to last year, Bulgarian (30%), Hungarian (23%) and Romanian (22%) MPs were the most productive on this front. In Bulgaria, the complicated structure of the governing coalition (two conservative parties, one nationalist party and one socialist) means that most of the decision-making process happens in Parliament, while in Hungary, where the Government continues to avoid discussion of certain sensitive issues (e.g. closure of shops on Sundays), several bills were submitted by governing coalition MPs rather than ministries. The results for Romania can be explained on the one hand, by the 2014 electoral context; on the other, as a general rule, when approaching the mid-term, lawmakers become more active in submitting legislative initiatives that can boost their visibility ahead of the next election.
Across CEE, 17% of approved acts with an impact on business were passed by an extraordinary procedure, slightly less than last year. As in 2014, it was the most common method in this year as well in Romania, where 55% of acts were approved using the Government’s Emergency Ordinance. Even if their overall number decreased by 7% over the last year, several NGOs claimed that the Government adopted a new strategy in order to reduce the extraordinary procedures, and at the same time continue to ensure the swift implementation of new provisions.
For the report, Grayling’s Public Affairs teams used publicly available data (mainly parliamentary websites) for the research and the report covers acts of Parliament only. In terms of media coverage, Grayling’s teams did not make a quantitative analysis of the coverage generated by each piece of legislation; if an article focusing on the act in question appeared in one of the most respected and/or widely-read media titles, it was categorized as an act which generated ‘significant’ media coverage.