Rule of Law in Romania

Justice

Effective justice systems are essential for upholding the rule of law. Independence, quality and efficiency are the defined parameters of an effective justice system, whatever the model of the national legal system and tradition in which it is anchored. Whilst the organisation of justice in the Member States falls within the competence of the Member States, when they are exercising that competence, Member States must ensure that their national justice systems provide for effective judicial protection. The independence of national courts is fundamental to ensuring such judicial protection. National courts ensure that the rights and obligations provided under EU law are enforced effectively. As re-affirmed by the European Court of Justice, the very existence of effective judicial review to ensure compliance with EU law is of the essence for the rule of law. Effective justice systems are also the basis for mutual trust, which is the bedrock of the common area of freedom, justice and security, an investment friendly environment, the sustainability of long-term growth and the protection of EU financial interests. The European Court of Justice has further clarified the requirements stemming from EU law regarding judicial independence. The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights also provides for key standards to be respected to safeguard judicial independence.

Independence

yellow
Several amendments to the Justice laws in 2018 and 2019 continue to raise concerns as regards their impact on judicial independence.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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The prolonged implementation of the amended justice laws creates increased uncertainty for the functioning of the justice system.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The perception of judicial independence among the general public is low, and shows a decreasing trend in recent years.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The prosecutorial Section for the Investigation of Offences in the Judiciary (SIIJ) remains in place, despite widespread criticism.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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New heads of the prosecution services were appointed in 2019, but long-standing concerns with the procedure for appointment and dismissal of high ranking prosecutors remain.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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The dismissal in 2018 of the former anti-corruption directorate chief prosecutor has been reviewed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Amendments to the law on the Statute of Judges and Prosecutors changed the rules governing the civil liability of judges.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Quality

yellow
The deficit of human resources in the justice system has increased.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The creation of the Strategic Judicial Management did not produce the expected results.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Romania has an overall good level of digitalisation of justice and efforts continue to develop it further.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Efficiency

yellow
Overall, the justice system handles its caseload efficiently.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Legislative amendments affecting human resources may hinder Romania’s efforts to reduce the length of judicial proceedings.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Anti-corruption

The fight against corruption is essential for maintaining the rule of law. Corruption undermines the functioning of the state and of public authorities at all levels and is a key enabler of organised crime 48 . Effective anti-corruption frameworks, transparency and integrity in the exercise of state power can strengthen legal systems and trust in public authorities. Fighting corruption needs to be based on evidence about its prevalence and form in a given country, the conditions that enable corruption and the legal, institutional and other incentives that can be used to prevent, detect and sanction corruption.

Institutional Framework

yellow
In the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, Romania scored 44/100 and ranks 19th in the European Union and 70th globally.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Romania has a comprehensive national anti-corruption strategic framework based on the large participation of national and local institutional actors.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Prevention

yellow
Continued uncertainty about amendments of the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code puts the fight against corruption at risk.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Codes of ethics and conduct were introduced for members of Parliament and the Government in recent years in addition to the existing ones for the civil service.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Romania has a dedicated law on whistleblowing protection since 2004.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Repressive measures

yellow
The effectiveness of the investigation and sanctioning of corruption cases has been impacted by pressure exercised on the legal and institutional framework.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Other obstacles to effective prosecution continue.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The National Integrity Agency (ANI) continues to deliver, however its effectiveness is under stress, due to weakening of its legislative framework and decreasing resources.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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The National Agency for the Management of Seized Assets (ANABI) is fully operational.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Media Freedom

All Member States have legal frameworks in place to protect media freedom and pluralism and EU citizens broadly enjoy high standards of media freedom and pluralism. Freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism and the right of access to information are generally enshrined in the Constitution or in secondary law. Media pluralism and media freedom are key enablers for the rule of law, democratic accountability and the fight against corruption. The murders of journalists who were investigating high-level corruption and organised crime allegations have been a wake-up call reminding Member States of the obligation to guarantee an enabling environment for journalists, protect their safety and pro-actively promote media freedom and media pluralism.

Regulatory authorities

yellow
The regulatory authority in the field of audio-visual media is the National Audio-visual Council (CNA).
View source | Our evaluation: green
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In terms of self-regulation in the press sector, professional norms are established at the level of the newsroom or publisher.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Transparency of Media

red
Transparency of media ownership appears to be incomplete.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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State advertising is reportedly used as a method for state interference.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Journalists' Protection

red
While freedom of expression is recognised by the Constitution, and access to the journalistic profession is unrestricted, some reported issues stem from the implementation of the legal framework.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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The enforcement of the constitutional right of access to any information of public interest faces obstacles.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Threats to Romanian journalists have been reported due to their professional activities.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Other Institutional Issues

Institutional checks and balances are at the core of the rule of law. They guarantee the functioning, cooperation and mutual control of State organs so that power is exercised by one state authority with the scrutiny of others. In addition to an effective justice systems, checks and balances rely on a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws, the separation of powers, the constitutional and judicial review of laws, a transparent and high-quality public administration as well as effective independent authorities such as ombudsperson institutions or national human rights institutions.

Preparing and enacting laws

yellow
The process for preparing and enacting laws is well regulated, including an extended institutional set-up of checks and balances.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The ordinary legislative process is often side-lined by the widespread use of Government Emergency Ordinances (GEOs)
View source | Our evaluation: red
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A state of emergency was declared in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Legislative amendments many times lack predictability and quality, and raise concerns with regard to the public interest.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Despite the framework in place, impact assessments and public consultations are not sufficiently used.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Civil Society

green
Romanian civil society is active in defending the rule of law, and has reacted to attempts to limit the activities of non-governmental organisations
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Accessibility

green
The Government has taken measures to improve transparency and accountability.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The Government committed to putting in place an Action Plan to address the issue of implementation of court decisions and application of jurisprudence of the courts by public administration.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Independent Authorities

green
Independent authorities play a role in safeguarding fundamental rights and the rule of law.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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