Policy Performance


Economic Policies

Despite some promising trends, Romania falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 36) in the area of economic policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.4 points relative to 2014.

The strong growth of recent years accelerated further in 2016, driven mainly by private consumption boosted by tax cuts, rising wages and low interest rates. Investment has also risen. Innovation-promoting measures have helped spur a booming ICT sector. However, corruption and inefficiencies remain widespread.

Unemployment rates declined modestly, with small gains in the employment rate. The share of economic inactivity remains high. Active labor-market policy has been overhauled.

With a low flat income tax, the government depends strongly on indirect taxes. Tax policy has been somewhat chaotic, with parliament passing measures blocked by the government. Tax compliance remains low. Deficits are increasing, as are the still-moderate debt levels. R&D spending has grown, and the country’s role as an emergent tech hub has driven private and public-sector innovation.

Social Policies

With resources scarce, Romania falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 39) with respect to social policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.1 point since 2014.

The country’s education system suffers from low public spending, unequal access, high dropout rates, low tertiary attainment and weak labor-market relevance. A national dual-system vocational-education strategy has been adopted. Poverty rates are very high, particularly among Roma. An ambitious anti-poverty package was passed in 2016.

The public health-insurance system falls significantly short of universality. Inadequate funding undercuts care quality and equity. While parental-leave benefits are generous, family-policy spending is low overall, and a shortage of affordable child care hampers the work-parenting balance. Women today represent the majority of outward migrants.

Outmigration, aging and a decline in actual retirement ages (despite official increases) threaten the pension system’s sustainability. While the country has upheld commitments to receive and integrate migrants, these newcomers risk facing discrimination similar to that applied to the Roma community.

Environmental Policies

Despite ongoing difficulties with pollution and waste, Romania falls into the middle ranks internationally (rank 20) with regard to its environmental policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

Romania continues to struggle with developing and implementing comprehensive environmental regulations. The main challenges have been industrial pollution, illegal resource extraction and systemic corruption. Tax-based strategies have used to address waste management and pollution.

The country participated in the Paris climate conference, and has undertaken some measures to uphold its commitments.



Quality of Democracy

With a nonpartisan technocratic government serving for much of the review period, Romania falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 38) with regard to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.1 point since 2014.

Party- and campaign-financing regulations were tightened in 2016, but rules are still routinely evaded. One party has imposed integrity requirements for candidates, but others have refused to follow suit. Parliamentary efforts to control public media outlets are a concern. However, a proposed anti-defamation law that would have criminalized criticism of politicians was defeated.

Civil rights are generally respected, but preventive detentions and security-service surveillance activities have drawn criticism. Massive protests in 2015 and 2016 indicated respect for political liberties. Government failures to counter discrimination have been exacerbated by a church-backed initiative restricting the definition of marriage.

Policymaking relies heavily on government emergency ordinances that undermine legal certainty. The judiciary is becoming more professional and independent. Even after the fall of the Ponta government due to corruption-related protests, corruption remains a serious problem. However, the National Anti-Corruption Directorate has achieved many significant convictions.



Executive Capacity

With a number of notable weaknesses, Romania falls into the bottom ranks (rank 36) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.4 points relative to 2014.

Policymaking has suffered from a lack of strategic planning. The Chancellery evaluates national programs, but no specific unit is responsible for policy evaluation, leaving some ministry proposals insufficiently assessed. The nonpartisan Ciolos government sought to win parliamentary support for proposals through informal coordination, but this was largely ineffective.

RIAs are required, though quality and actual use are highly uneven. A ministry established to engage with civil society was largely excluded from actual policymaking. Communication under Ciolos was more coherent than under predecessors, but still lacked coordination.

The Ciolos caretaker government was able to achieve much of its limited agenda. Ministers were dismissed with more frequency than under coalition governments. The absorption rate of EU funds improved, and preparations for Romania’s 2019 EU presidency were begun.

Executive Accountability

With only a few bright spots, Romania falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 38) in the area of executive accountability. Its score represents a gain of 0.3 points relative to 2014.

Individual parliamentarians have minimal resources, but fairly broad formal oversight powers. The national auditor is independent and effective. The ombudsman has not played a substantial advocacy role in recent years.

Despite a wave of citizen activism and protest focusing on political corruption, the general level of policy knowledge beyond this area remains low. Distrust in the political system has deepened. The largest media organizations are highly partisan, though some media brands provide in-depth information.

Political-party decision-making is quite centralized. Trade unions played a large role in 2016’s protest-driven politics, but did not have coherent policy recommendations. Despite a dependence on international financing, a number of NGOs have significant analytical capacities.
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