Sustainable Policies


Economic Policies

Despite encouraging growth, Romania falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 39) in the area of economic policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.4 points relative to 2014.

The economy has continued to show robust growth. As in previous years, this has been driven by tax cuts and strong wage increases, and has been accompanied by high, increasingly unsustainable fiscal and current-account deficits. Inflation rates are high by EU standards.

Unemployment rates have fallen to a record low. However, youth unemployment levels are high. Emigration rates have been extremely high, with 18.2% of the population, and nearly 40% of those with higher education, living abroad. Labor market participation rates are among the EU’s lowest.

The personal-income tax is among the EU’s least progressive. The corporate-tax rate of 16% is low, but frequent tax-code changes and the resulting uncertainty have reduced the competitiveness of the system. Despite robust economic growth, the fiscal deficit has grown to 3.6%, and is expected to widen considerably in 2020 and 2021.

Social Policies

With a number of problematic areas, Romania falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 38) with respect to social policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.2 point relative to its 2014 level.

The education system remains of poor quality overall, with serious structural problems. Performance and attainment indicators are low, and access is unequal, with low-income, Roma and rural children facing particular challenges. About one-third of the country’s population is at risk of poverty and social exclusion, with much higher rates among the Roma population. Services lack in both quality and coverage.

The healthcare system suffers from low public spending, mass migration of medical staff, corruption and inefficiency. Access to care for vulnerable groups and those living in rural areas is limited. Parental-leave benefits are generous, but a shortage of affordable childcare cuts seriously into women’s labor-market participation rates.

Pension payments have been increased, undermining the system’s sustainability. While there is no separate integration strategy, much of the policy framework needed to integrate migrants into society is in place, including counseling, language courses and services offering access to employment, housing and public education.

Environmental Policies

Suffering from ongoing difficulties with pollution and waste, Romania falls into the middle ranks internationally (rank 21) with regard to its environmental policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

Romania continues to struggle with developing and implementing comprehensive environmental regulations. Implementation of various environmental taxes, including those for landfills and car registration, have faced persistent delays.

Air pollution via households, the energy sector, and car use has resulted in especially poor air quality. Illegal foresting is a serious problem. The waste management system is underdeveloped, with extremely low recycling rates and poor economic incentives. Regulatory weaknesses enable the burning of potentially dangerous waste,

Climate and biodiversity protections are weak. The country lags behind other EU members on green infrastructure, climate change adaptation, risk prevention and resilience, and emissions.

Robust Democracy


Quality of Democracy

With continuing tension between the government and civil society, Romania falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 38) with regard to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.4 points since 2014.

Political parties routinely circumvent campaign financing laws, with sanctions rare even in blatant cases. The government exerts strong control over the public media, and most private media are owned by oligarchs that do not respect editorial independence. Journalists are routinely harassed by the police. A non-binding referendum banning amnesties for corruption offenses was strongly improved.

Civil rights are generally respected, but preventive detentions and security-service surveillance activities have drawn criticism. Massive street protests have continued, with civil-society groups protesting against a variety of government actions. The state has not effectively countered discrimination against LGBT people, individuals with disabilities and members of the Roma community.

The government has actively sought to undermine judicial independence, sparking a fierce political battle. The EU and other bodies have been strongly critical of the government’s interference with prosecutorial services and anti-corruption bodies. The judiciary has continued to prosecute high-level corruption offenses.

Good Governance


Executive Capacity

With a number of notable weaknesses, Romania falls into the bottom ranks (rank 40) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.4 points relative to 2014.

Policymaking has suffered from a lack of strategic planning. Repeated reorganization of the government office has undermined its policy-evaluation capacity. Informal coordination entailed effective control by the PSD party leader, who has toppled prime ministers for acting independently, until his imprisonment in 2019. Coordination on policy development is led by the line ministry initiating the proposal.

RIAs are required, though quality and actual use are highly uneven. Ex post evaluations have remained the exception rather than the rule. Public consultation is largely ad hoc, with external groups complaining that their views are not taken seriously. The Chancellery has often competed with individual ministries in communicating new policy initiatives and programs.

The Dăncilă government was not very effective in fulfilling its initial promises. Subnational governments are underfunded, contributing to the low quality of public services. Regulations are mostly enforced to the extent that they benefit powerful lobbies and politicians’ clients. The 2019 Romanian EU presidency went smoothly, indicating adaptation ability in this area.

Executive Accountability

With only a few bright spots in this area, Romania falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 39) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure is unchanged relative to its 2014 level.

Individual parliamentarians have minimal resources, but fairly broad formal oversight powers. The current audit-court president is close to the head of the governing party, and parliament has proposed diminishing the body’s independence further. The data-protection authority’s president is tarnished by corruption charges. A new ombudsperson has raised hopes of greater independence.

Despite a wave of citizen activism and protest, the general level of policy knowledge remains low. Media coverage is highly partisan. Romania ranks first among EU countries in the spread of “fake news.” While the country has begun to fight disinformation and external media infringements, many journalists claim that the Romanian government is the main threat to press freedom.

The major Romanian parties remain controlled by leaders that are isolated from the party membership. Business associations and unions play only a minor role in proposing concrete policy measures. Despite a dependence on international financing, a number of NGOs have significant analytical capacities.
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