CORRUPTION IN ROMANIA

EU ANTI-CORRUPTION REPORT 2014

Romania: 93% of the population think corruption is widespread!

When asked "Do you consider patronage and nepotism to be a problem for your company when doing business in Romania?" 63% out of a maximum of 69% answered YES!

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Teodor Nita

ROMANIA

Anti-corruption framework
Strategic  approach. The  most  recent national  anti-corruption  strategy  2012-2015  was  adopted by  the  Government  and  endorsed  by  Parliament  in  2012.
It  is  based  on  a  wide  consultation process  and  was  welcomed  by  most  stakeholders.  The  strategy  takes  a  multi-disciplinary approach   and   requires   the   development   of   sector-and   institution-specific   anti-corruption strategies across the board. A peer-review mechanism, involving civil society, was put in place to monitorits implementation.
Cooperation  platforms  grouping  various  categories  of  stakeholders were  also  set  up.
Monitoring is  carried  out  through evaluation  rounds by topic. The  activities undertaken within the monitoring process and the assessments made are published on a dedicated portal.
Implementation  is  ensured  within  the  limits  of  the  fiscal  budgetary  strategy  for  2012-2014.
The  national  anti-corruption  strategy  follows a  project-based  approach:  i.e.a  number  of measures are covered  through  specific  projects  while  others are  considered  not  to  require additional funding and should consequently be covered by the regular budgets of the institutions concerned.
The  latter  category  represents  80%  of  the  foreseen  measures.
While  some progress was made on combating high-level corruption, the fight  against petty corruption has not  yielded sufficient  results,  while  the  prevention  side  remains  rather  weak  both  at  central  and  at  local levels.
The Council recommended to Romania, in the context of the 2013 European Semester for economic policy coordination, to fight corruption more effectively.

Legal  framework

The  legal  framework  is  largely  in  place,  including  recent  steps  taken to reform  the  criminal  code  and  the  criminal  procedure  code, which  are  due  to  enter  into  force  in
early 2014. These reforms aim at fine-tuning the legal framework, strengthening law enforcement authorities  and  anti-corruption  institutions  and ensuring increased  efficiency
and   coherent practice of  the  judiciary in  dealing  with  high-level  corruption  cases.
However,  a  number  of the most recent legislative initiatives of Parliament in December 2013, which, among others, would have narrowed  the  scope  of  corruption  offences  and  criminal  law  provisions  on  conflicts of interest  have seriously  called  into  doubt the  stability  of  the  current  legislation and  the  political commitment   to see the   anti-corruption   reforms through.
The   above-mentioned   legislative amendments  were  declared  unconstitutional  by  the  Romanian  Constitutional  Court  in  January 2014.
Other considerable challenges remain, including on the implementation of the new codes.
The instability of these legislative acts and a number of legal problems identified by practitioners which  may  require  amendments  of  the  codes  or interpretative  guidelines  before  their entry  into force raise additional difficulties.

Institutional  framework

Romania  has  set  up  a  comprehensive  institutional  anti-corruption framework. The National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), a specialised prosecution office, is tasked to investigate high-level corruption cases. The DNA has established a solid track record of non-partisan    investigations    into    allegations    of    high-level    corruption.
The    successful investigations it has carried out in the last decade revealed corrupt practices involving high-level politicians and public officials, members  of  the judiciary,  law  enforcement officials, and  people from a  wide  range  of  sectors:  transport,  infrastructure,  healthcare,  extractive  industries,  energy, agriculture, sports, etc.

For a long time the judiciary had been less effective in dealing with high-level corruption. A change was noted over recent years; the High Court of Cassation and Justice in  particular  set  an  example by increasing  efficiency  in  the  adjudication  of  complex  corruption cases.

The service known as the Anti-Corruption General Directorate (DGA) within the Ministry of Home Affairs is a specialised police structure mainly responsible for investigating corruption within the police, while also covering other sectors.

The National Integrity Agency (ANI) checks conflicts   of interests,   incompatibilities   and personal wealth   of   public   officials. Since   its establishment  in  2008, the
ANI  has  shown good  results overall.
In  the  past  five  years,  the confirmation  rate  of the ANI's  decisions  on  incompatibilities,  as  well  as the administrative decisions  on conflicts  of  interest exceeded 80%.
Following the ANI's  decisions,  over  EUR  1million in unjustified personal wealth was confiscated on  the  basis  of final  court  decisions.
However, over  time the  follow-up  of the ANI's  decisions  encountered  considerable  difficulties.
The  political will to  support  the  independence,  stability  and  capacity  of  the  anti-corruption institutions and the judiciary has not been constant over time.

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Iolanda Aida Zlate

Romania Country reports on judicial corruption

According to the Romanian Study on National Integrity System, the judicial system has been aweak pillar of integrity throughout the transition from communism. It is a three-tiered court system, with a Supreme  Court  and  a  body  of  public  prosecutors.  The  superior  council  of  magistracy  represents judicial authority in relations with other state authorities and is guarantor of its independence. This body also safeguards the integrity of members of the judiciary and manages judicial infrastructure.

Alignment with EU justice standards

Reforms  have  been  rare  and  difficult  throughoutmost  of  the  transition.  In  recent  years,  upcoming accession to the EU has been a catalyst to improving the pace and effectiveness of judiciary reforms.

These  have  paid  off  in  certain  areas,  as  noted  by  the  EU’s  monitoring  report  on  Romania  in  May 2006, which recognised ‘good progress’ in the overall reform of the justice sector, but it also noted the  need  for  vigilance  regarding  continuing  unethical  behaviour.  Many  reforms  exist  only  as  well-articulated  legal  frameworks  that  have  not  yet  been
put  into  practice.  In  2004–05  in  particular, important judicial reforms were made, primarily modifying or  adopting new laws, including three that concerned the Magistrates’ Statute, judicial organisation and the attributes of the superior council of magistracy.
TI Romania has monitored implementation of these measures and from October 2005 to October 2006 hosted a counselling centre to help citizens complain about corruption in the judiciary. During that  period,  the  centre  received  over  1,600  complaints  of  which  it  directly  assisted  almost  600. However, only 40 per cent fell within the centre’s remit. Of these, the centre referred 30 per cent to the  superior  council  of  magistracy  to  determine  whether  the  magistrate  in  question  could  be  held responsible. After analysis, TI Romania concluded that implementation of reforms was deficient due to poor administrative skills and lack of will by heads of courts and prosecutors’ offices.  The summary report
for the centre’s first phase of operation revealed that courts, registries, archives and clerks’ offices suffer from poor integrity and bad administr ation in the quality and promptness of
service.  This  led  to  the  conclusion  that  the  reforms  have  had  little  impact  thus  far  on  citizens’ relationship with the justice system.

Pressure on judgement

Legal  reforms  in  the  past  three  years  have  sought  to  address  the  issue  of  judicial  independence, which  has  been  critical  since  the  1989  revolution.

For  example,  legislation  in  2005  transferred management  of  the  judiciary  budget  from  the  Ministry of  Justice  to  the  superior  council  of magistracy,  effective  from  2008,  to  ensure  proper  operational  and  staffing  procedures  are  in  place. Until then, it remains under ministerial control. The council is composed of nine judges and five prosecutors, elected by their peers, but also by law includes the Minister of Justice, the Supreme Court president, the general prosecutor and two civil society representatives elected by the senate. This structure ensures judicial independence, contingent on the application of subsequent reforms. According to a TI Romania survey in September 2005, 78 per cent of magistrates view the justice system as independent, though not ‘absolutely independent’. Judges  indicated  that  they  felt  pressure  on  their  decisions  from  media,  members  of  parliament,
government officials and economic interests while prosecutors said they experienced pressure from within the hierarchy, notably from chief prosecutors. Though  judiciary  management  will  pass  to  the  supreme  council,  this  development  will  be accompanied by continuing structural weaknesses, such as inadequate court staffing and magistrates’
low professional standards. With regard to integrity, Romania has had a judicial code of ethics since 2001 and in 2005 became one of the first countries in the region to adopt a code of ethics for court personnel.  Training  in  both  needs  improvement,  as  do mechanisms  for  monitoring  and  enforcing them.

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