CAMPAIGN: NATIONAL DAY OF FIGHTING AGAINST ILICIT TRADE – ACTIV ASSOCIATION

OPPORTUNITY

Romania is one of the countries in the European Union most affected by the illicit trade. In countries where stopping this phenomenon was a zero priority for the Government, it drastically diminished with a positive impact on the state budget. For example, in Bulgaria, illicit trade has declined over the last two years from 18.5% to 6.8%. Romania imperatively needs the involvement of the authorities in the fight against illicit trade. To achieve this, a voice was needed to present and explain the effects on the population, the business environment and the economy as a whole. The Association for Combating Illicit Trade „Viitorul” (ACTIV) has assumed the role of facilitator of the dialogue between authorities, consumers and the business environment. Its main objective is to identify the best solutions for fighting this phenomenon, through constant dialogue between the three entities mentioned above.

RESEARCH

We started by analyzing the legislative solutions, programs and projects developed by other countries in this area. We identified the most affected industries, what steps were taken at the legislative level, and which institutions would support the cause.

WHAT IF ROMANIA HAD A NATIONAL DAY OF FIGHTING AGAINST ILLICIT TRADE, A FRAMEWORK FOR THE AUTHORITIES TO GET MORE INVOLVED?

PLANNING

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVE: To raise awareness among authorities’ representatives on the impact that the illicit trade phenomenon has on people, business environment and state budget. KPIs:
  • To engage at least 25 members of the Parliament.
  • To engage local authorities from half of the 19 Romanian border counties in order to attract as many supporters for the cause.
AUDIENCE:
  • Core target: Legislative institution (Parliament of Romania),
  • Secondary target:
    • Key state security institutions: (Romanian Police, Border Police, General Customs Directorate, National Authority for Consumer Protection).
    • Local authorities: (Prefects, Presidents of County Councils, Town Mayors)
    • Institutions with a preventive role: (State Office for Inventions and Trademarks).

IMPLEMENTATION

We needed members of the Parliament to begin to do something about this situation. Raising awareness on a topic means to put it on the public agenda. What better way than to establish a National Day of the Fight Against Illicit Trade? But this could only be obtained if Senators and Deputies would vote in favour of a new law.

PHASE 1 –  INFORMATION IS POWER!

In order to gain support of such a legislative initiative we had to inform legislators on the phenomenon and gain them on board. This is why ACTIV held many national conferences dedicated to members of Parliment, Government and Press presenting illicit trade through two sociological studies conducted by the Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy on segments affected by the phenomenon: ordinary people and retail sector. The conclusions scared us:
  • Romanians are aware of the danger, but if a product would be cheaper, 1 out of 3 would use it.
  • 2 out of 10 retailers believe that their turnover would be double if there was no illicit trade.
  • 28% of retailers mentioned that they won’t denounce illegal traffic out of fear.

PHASE 2 –  REVERSE ENGINEERING ENGAGEMEMT

Furthermore we had to get them on board, to make sure that we will have majority at the vote for the National Day. This is why we begun The National Caravan of the Fight Against Illicit Trade, a series of regional events held in border counties with the aim to present the results of the studies and also gather local facts. We visited Satu Mare, Botosani, Timisoara, Suceava, Iasi, Constanta, Craiova – the counties with the highest incidence of the phenomenon. ACTIV put at the same table Senators and Deputies from each region and all political parties with prefects, county councilor presidents, mayors, county police inspectorates, heads of school inspectorates, representatives of the chambers of commerce and industry, representatives of the business environment, local police. Debates resulted in sets of requirements and conclusions about how to better fight illicit trade. They were simbolically assumed by all authorities representatives present under the form of public documents:

THE PACT FOR COMBATING ILLICIT TRADE

The signage was done in front of local press and even though it held no legal obligation, it morally bounded senators and deputies to support more legislative initiatives on this topic. Thus, 25 parliamentarians from various political parties signed the pact and took attitude in public in combating this phenomenon.

PHASE 3: THE DAY!

Olny after this step, ACTIV together with the some of the MPs that signed the Pacts drafted an initiative to make 21 of April The National Day of Fighting Against Illicit Trade. 13 Members of Parliament (MPs) representing all political parties signed the legislative proposal. We considered the MPs signing the Pacts our ambassadors and we counted on them to vote and to convince other colleagues to vote. The work was not yet finished as the legislative project was rejected on February 4, 2019, in the Senate plenary. The law that declares The National Day of Fighting Against Illicit Trade was adopted by the Chamber of Deputies on April 10 2019. On the 8th of May 2019, the President Klaus Iohannis has promulgated the law that establish officially the 21st of April as „National Day of the Fight Against Illicit Trade”. This is how the circle closed. We got information on a very serious phenomenon flowing between national and local authorities and we convinced decision makers to create framework for their colleagues in central and local administration to act against illegal trade.

EVALUATION

1

Presidential promulgation of the law

50+

Members of Parliament were involved in direct dialogue with ACTIV about the gravity of the phenomenon in Romania, which accounted for almost 11% of the total number of members of the Legislature.

25

Members of Parliament signed the „Pact for Combating Illicit Trade”

3.555.310

opportunities to see our topic in the media with a total number of press materials of 345 (out of which 20 TV news).

1

National Day declared by the Romanian Parliament

35

Members of Parliament attended the events initiated by the association.

TV

The subject of promulgating the law and the conclusions of regional debates were taken in prime time at local televisions on the day of the event. The subject also benefited from print, radio and online coverage.

6000

The social media outlets Facebook page & YouTube Channel have an audience of over 6000 people.