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).[1] 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).[2] 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.[3]

Generally, despite efforts using laws and regulations to prevent corruption, enforcement has been weak.[4] Since 2014 however, the investigation and prosecution of medium- and high-level political, judicial and administrative officials by the National Anticorruption Directorate has increased [5] 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.[citation needed]

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.[6]


After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, Romania has struggled with corruption and establishing a well-functioning judicial system.[7] 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."[8] 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.[9] 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. [10] 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.[11]

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.[12][13] The Commission also criticized Romania for failing to root out corruption in its state institutions.[14] 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".[15][16] 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.[17] The amendments were sharply criticized by Romanian opposition parties and European leaders,[18] while the Constitutional Court of Romania cataloged this move as unconstitutional.[19]

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. [20] 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.[20]

Anti-corruption measures

In 2014, the National Anticorruption Directorate indicted 1,138 authorities. Among them were politicians, judges and prosecutors, and businessmen. [21]

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.[22] There have been 970 final convictions throughout the year and the amount of damages recovered has increased to €194.37 million.[22]

In 2016, 1,270 more people were brought to trial, including 3 ministers, 17 parliamentarians, 47 mayors, 16 magistrates and 21 CEOs.[23] The amount of damages recovered has increased to €226 million.[22]

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.[24] The amount of damages recovered has decreased to €159.5 million.[24]

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.[25] 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. [26] 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.[27] In February 2017, the protests held reached an unprecedented turnout of 500,000 people.[28] The anti-corruption measures taken by civilians resulted in the withdrawal of the bills and the resignation of the former minister of justice. [29] 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.” [30]

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).

See also


  1. "Corruption Perceptions Index 2018". Transparency International. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  2. EU Anti-Corruption Report
  3. GAN. "Romania Corruption Report". Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  4. "Fighting Corruption with Con Tricks: Romania's Assault on the Rule of Law | Henry Jackson Society". Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  5. "2015 Investment Climate Statement - Romania". The US Department of State. The US Department of State. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  6. EU slams Romania for not tackling corruption, Deutsche Welle, Retrieved on February 2020. "'The evolution of the situation in the first months of 2019 was a source of great concern,'" the report continues, saying that if Bucharest does not make 'a strong commitment to judicial independence and the fight against corruption,' punitive measures may have to be taken." Archived on the Wayback Machine
  7. Clark, David (January 2017). "Fighting Corruption with Con Tricks: Romania's Assault on the Rule of Law". The Henry Jackson Society.
  8. "Europe Union: How Fit Are Romania and Bulgaria for the EU?". Spiegel Online. 2005-04-18. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  9. "Romania praised again in EU justice monitoring report but weaknesses remain". 2017-01-26. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  10. "EUR-Lex - 52015DC0035 - EN - EUR-Lex". Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  11. "Snapshot of the Romania Country Profile". Business Anti-Corruption Portal. GAN Integrity Solutions. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  12. Andrew Gardner, Toby Vogel (11 July 2012). "Romanian power struggle alarms Europe's leaders". European Voice.
  13. Sam Cage, Luiza Ilie (22 November 2012). "Populism takes spotlight in Romania power struggle". Reuters.
  14. "EU Commission chides Romania over state corruption". BBC News. 18 July 2012.
  15. Raluca Besliu (18 January 2014). "Legally corrupt: Romanian politicians chase 'super-immunity'". Aljazeera.
  16. "Transparency International Romania statement on recent immunity decision by Chamber of Deputies". Transparency International. 12 December 2013.
  17. Valentina Pop (11 December 2013). "Romanian MPs decriminalise political corruption". EUobserver.
  18. Luiza Ilie (22 January 2013). "Romania parliament boosts criminal immunity, may irk EU". Reuters.
  19. Wendy Zeldin (23 January 2014). "Romania: Court Finds Immunity Law Unconstitutional". Library of Congress.
  20. "2015 Investment Climate Statement - Romania". US Department of State. Retrieved May 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  21. "Romania anti-sleaze drive reaches elite". BBC News. 19 February 2015.
  22. "Raport de activitate 2015". National Anticorruption Directorate. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  23. "Raport de activitate 2016". National Anticorruption Directorate. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  24. "Raport de activitate 2017". National Anticorruption Directorate. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  25. "Romanians protest government plan to commute sentences". POLITICO. 2017-01-22. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  26. "Nucleara din justitie. Lista potentialilor beneficiari ai dezincriminarii mascate a abuzului in serviciu". HotNewsRo (in Romanian). Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  27. "FOTO VIDEO Cel mai amplu protest din ultimii 25 de ani. Peste 300.000 de oameni au fost în stradă". (in Romanian). Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  28. "Romanian government under pressure as 500,000 protest". Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  29. Cosmin Stan; Kara Fox. "Romanian Justice Minister resigns". CNN. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  30. "evidence Project Deliverable 7 | SIOR. Social Impact Open Repository". Retrieved 2018-04-18.