Corruption in Romania
Corruption in Romania is considered a major problem. According to Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index, as of 2018, Romania is the 61st least corrupt country out of 180 countries (at par with Cuba and Malaysia), down from the 57th place in 2017, and the fourth most corrupt in the European Union (after Hungary, Greece and Bulgaria). In the 2014 EU Anti-Corruption Report, 57% of the Romanians were most likely to say they are personally affected by corruption (at par with Cyprus). Corruption can be found both in the public sector and in private businesses, and poses concerns for foreign investors. Although there have been improvements since the late 1990s, corruption remains a problem in Romania as it is especially found on all levels of public office, in the police force as well as in the judiciary system.
This article needs to be updated. (January 2020)
|Corruption by country|
Generally, despite efforts using laws and regulations to prevent corruption, enforcement has been weak. Since 2014 however, the investigation and prosecution of medium- and high-level political, judicial and administrative officials by the National Anticorruption Directorate has increased The National Anticorruption Directorate was established in 2002 by the Romanian government to investigate and prosecute corruption related offenses causing damage to the Romanian state.
In terms of scandals, corruption was cited among many issues that provoked the 2012–15 social unrest, the 2015 protests following the Colectiv nightclub fire, and the 2017 protests. In 2019, the European Commission threatened to take "punitive measures" against Romania for its corruption problems.
After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, Romania has struggled with corruption and establishing a well-functioning judicial system. In 2005, when the treaty was signed with the European Union, former president Traian Băsescu mentioned that "Romania [was] not yet be prepared to meet the European Union's standards." Since entering the EU, Romania has somewhat improved transparency and accountability in the public sector, but the European Commission still considers the government's reform to be slow and weak. The poor implementation of laws on the transparency of information and decision-making processes between government officials coupled with the bribes and conflicts of interests in public procurement practices makes the judicial system ineffective in fighting against corruption. This has had consequences in effectively using the European Union's funds towards developing the country. Although it plays a considerable role in the country's stagnant path towards progress, corruption is only one of the issues among others. Other factors include the administrative capacity of public purchasers, the lack of stability and fragmentation of the legal framework, the quality of competition in public procurement and few others listed in the Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council.
In 2012, the European Commission expressed concerns about the rule of law, pointing to the power struggle between Prime Minister Victor Ponta and President Traian Băsescu, which gave rise to what is called the 2012 political crisis. The Commission also criticized Romania for failing to root out corruption in its state institutions. One year later, the Chamber of Deputies passed without parliamentary debate several controversial amendments to the Penal Code, including that the country's president, senators, members of the lower chamber, as well as lawyers are no longer to be considered "public officials". These actors can as a result take part in illicit interests without being held accountable for abuse of office, bribery, conflicts of interest and other corruption crimes. The amendments were sharply criticized by Romanian opposition parties and European leaders, while the Constitutional Court of Romania cataloged this move as unconstitutional.
The report from the US Department of State published in May 2015 demonstrates that the government of Romania still takes part in corrupt activities such as bypassing standard legislative procedures and imposing fines on infrastructure in certain sectors like the energy industry. The lack of political will demonstrated by the 2012 political crisis as well as the under-funding of the National Anticorruption Directorate poses a major challenge in investigating and enforcing sanctions to bureaucratic corruption. Although the National Anticorruption Directorate has taken action in investigating corrupt cases, enforcing sanctions remains weak and staff and inspection procedures are under-resourced. As it is mentioned in the report, "conflict of interest, respect for standards of ethical conduct, and integrity in public office in general remain a concern for all three branches of government" and the National Anticorruption Directorate will further its initiatives in tackling the problem.
In 2014, the National Anticorruption Directorate indicted 1,138 authorities. Among them were politicians, judges and prosecutors, and businessmen.
In 2015, the number of filed cases against high-level politicians and businessmen that committed corrupt acts has increased by an additional 1,250 people and has had a substantial social impact. Out of those people are Prime Minister Victor Ponta, 5 ministers and 21 parliamentarians. There have been 970 final convictions throughout the year and the amount of damages recovered has increased to €194.37 million.
2017 marked the year where an additional 997 individuals were accused and found guilty by the National Anticorruption Directorate, including the former President of the Chamber of Deputies, 6 parliamentarians, 3 ministers, 49 mayors, 6 magistrates and 11 CEOs. The amount of damages recovered has decreased to €159.5 million.
In January 2017, the newly appointed government modified the Penal Code and Penal Procedure Code overnight as a way to fix the issue of overcrowding in prisons. Opponents released accusations that the government has actually modified the Codes as a way to decriminalize political corruption, to release former politicians from prison without punishment and to stop any accusations and investigations made to current authorities. 24 hours later, the biggest protest since the fall of communism was witnessed, with 300,000 civilians manifesting their opposition to the government's actions in front of Victoria Palace. In February 2017, the protests held reached an unprecedented turnout of 500,000 people. The anti-corruption measures taken by civilians resulted in the withdrawal of the bills and the resignation of the former minister of justice. Since then, multiple protests composed of hundreds of thousands of Romanians have continued as a way to tackle corruption within the government. According to the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission, the promotion of integrity, accountability, and transparency by civil society organizations have made significant contributions to the decline of corruption.”
Transparency International 2019
Transparency International reported that Romania is currently ranked 70th out of 180 countries for corruption and has a score of 44 out of 100 (0 being completely corrupt and 100 being clean).
- 2017–2018 Romanian protests
- List of corruption scandals in Romania
- Microsoft licensing corruption scandal
- Police corruption in Romania
- Crime in Romania
- International Anti-Corruption Academy
- Group of States Against Corruption
- International Anti-Corruption Day
- ISO 37001 Anti-bribery management systems
- United Nations Convention against Corruption
- OECD Anti-Bribery Convention
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