BUCHAREST – Romania’s government has approved via an emergency decree a law to settle a controversy about property confiscated by the communist regime. The law, crucial for solving the issue which has tormented former owners for 15 post-communist years and crowded the courts with complicated cases, was initially promoted in a package of bills which was rejected by the Constitutional Court last week. The bills included justice reform legislation key for Romania to join the European Union on time in 2007, which the court decided was not in line with the constitution, prompting the government to announce it would resign and seek early polls. «The reform in the field of property, one of the most important commitments of the government, was turned into a law in the government’s meeting on July 7 to allow the solving of property issues as soon as possible,» the statement said. Although the Constitutional Court did not reject the property bill, its enactment was impossible since it was part of the package containing the justice laws. This is why the government had to pass it via an emergency decree. Under the new law, buildings have to be returned to their former owners even if they currently host public institutions such as schools and hospitals or embassies and political parties, within five years. The government will start a special investment fund which will be made of shares in state companies and debt that Romania has to recoup from other states to compensate owners whose property could not be returned as it was, it said. Shares in the fund, which is due to be launched at the beginning of next year, will be listed on the Bucharest bourse. The decree also stipulates that farmers over 62 years old and holding less than 10 hectares of land will get 100 euros per hectare per year from the state budget if they sell their land, to help unify small plots of lands into profitable farms. The government will meet twice this week to approve legislation needed for the country’s EU accession, and then will formally resign.