Irrespective of whether an NGO is involved following its own initiative or upon invitation of a ministry, it must be aware of what is the aim of this cooperation and what actual influence the organisation may achieve.
An NGO as a cooperation partner of ministries is:
1) an additional source of expertise and information;
2) a cooperation partner for formulating, explaining, implementing and assessing a policy;
3) the first that warns about potential risks or failures of a policy;
4) a promoter of the work of public administration institutions, which prompts to work in a more professional manner, to formulate the policy in a way that is more comprehensible to the public, and consult the public in time.
NGOs should take into account the above-mentioned factors in order to better understand their cooperation partners and find the most successful models of cooperation.
Processing of draft documents if prepared by MINISTRIES
Processing of draft policy planning documents and legislative acts in the Government
Processing of all documents in the Government can be divided in three stages:
State secretaries` meetings
In order to coordinate opinions and prepare draft legal acts for consideration in the Government, the processing of documents starts with their announcement at the meeting of State Secretaries`. At the meeting, a list of all submitted draft policy planning documents, draft legal acts, as well as announced drafts that have been revoked is approved. Also, at the meeting, decisions are made on the need for public discussions, the need for an annotation or additions in the explanatory note; the drafts are reviewed in substance on which agreement was not reached through the coordination process, etc.
Meetings of the Cabinet Committee
Draft policy planning documents announced at the State Secretaries` and drafts on which no agreement was reached at the State Secretaries`. The Cabinet Committee also considers drafts diverted from the sitting of the Cabinet. Each draft is discussed in substance.
If in some stage agreement is not reached on the formulation of a draft, there is a clearly defined course of processing of drafts either if they are coordinated, or not. Schematically, the processing of draft policy planning documents and draft legal acts can be depicted in the following way (see flowchart):
A ministry prepares a draft legal act and submits it to the State Chancellery.
The State Secretaries` announces the new draft to receive the opinions of ministries and NGOs.
Ministries and NGOs give their proposals or objections to the ministry in charge.
The ministry in charge develops a coordinated plan.
If the legal act is coordinated without any objections, the Cabinet of Ministers considers and approves the document.
If the document is not coordinated, the State Secretaries` agrees on the document at an administrative level.
The Cabinet Committee agrees on the draft at a political level.
The Cabinet of Ministers (politicians) approve and adopt the document.
In this stage documents within the competence of the Cabinet of Ministers are adopted (draft laws, regulations issued in accordance with Article 81 of the Satversme, regulations, orders). Draft laws and regulations issued in accordance with Article 81 of the Satversme are submitted to the Saeima.
Opportunities of NGOs in this stage:
If an NGO is invited to participate in a working group or the NGO sees that a working group is being formed for developing a draft document and accordingly applies to participate, it is possible to ensure involvement and to full extent follow the development of the draft (receive information), participate in discussing it, and also clarify if and to what extent it will be possible to participate in the working group.
The sooner the NGO involves itself in developing the draft document, the better.
The NGO can submit proposals or an opinion about the draft legal act in any stage. When the legal act is included for consideration at the meeting of state secretaries, opinions must be sent to the responsible ministries. This can be achieved by following the course of the legal act in the ministry. When the legal act is considered at the meeting of state secretaries, meeting of the Cabinet Committee, or sitting of the Cabinet, opinions should be sent both to the responsible ministry, and also to the State Chancellery (the date when the particular question will be considered in these sittings can be seen in the agendas of sittings on the Internet homepage of the Cabinet of Ministers).
The NGO, with the help of mass media, initiates public discussions on the document to be considered, and thus it is possible to gain an additional opportunity and achieve the desirable changes (which were not taken into account when submitting proposals to ministries). The recommended time is prior to consideration at the meeting of state secretaries, the meeting of the Cabinet Committee, or the sitting of the Cabinet, or at the time when the draft law is submitted for further processing to the Saeima.
It is important for NGOs to make use of the opportunity to participate in the meeting of state secretaries and the meeting of the Cabinet Committee and publicly express their opinion (see “Practical advice and contacts
Processing of legislative acts in the SAEIMA (Parliament)
A draft law is submitted to the Saeima after the sitting of the Cabinet, or it can be initiated by the members of the Saeima, as well as other cases indicated in Article 79 of the Rules of Procedure of the Saeima.
The Presidium of the Saeima reports to the Saeima, which decides on submitting the draft law to parliamentary committees.
The responsible committee of the Saeima (technically) processes the text for the first reading.
In the first reading members of the Saeima vote conceptually and submit the draft to committees.
In the interim the responsible committee accepts proposals for changes.
In the second reading members of the Saeima vote on formulations of particular articles.
In the third reading the law is adopted.
Opportunities of NGOs in this stage:
If a legislative act has been submitted to the Saeima for further consideration, then NGOs should once more submit their proposals to the responsible committees of the Saeima, and should try to meet the members of Saeima in person in order to explain to them the opinion of the NGO.
If NGOs have influential cooperation partners and financial resources, they can use lobbying – provide information to decision-makers in order to influence opinions and foster the adoption of a decision that suits the interests of the lobby.
Authority of the PRESIDENT in adopting legislative acts
The President promulgates a law not earlier than on the 10th day and not later than the 21st day after its adoption in the Saeima.
A law comes into force 14 days after its promulgation, unless a different date is specified.
The President has the right to ask for repeated reviewing of a draft law.
Opportunities of NGOs in this stage:
To turn directly to the President with a plea to listen to the opinion of the NGO, in order to influence the promulgation of a draft legislative act, propose to revise, supplement or amend it.
© Information prepared by the State Chancellery has been used.