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romania-political-mapPopulation: 20,076,727

HDI ranking: 56/187

HDI score: 0.786

Since the 1990s, Romania has been going through a process of decentralisation in which competences have been transferred to the local level and new forms of organisation and coordination of national and local policies have been undertaken. However, the process of decentralization is still unfinished and partial (UNICEF, 2010; UCLG, 2008).

Local governance at a glance

  • Romania is divided at the intermediate administration level into 42 counties, including the municipality of Bucharest, which is subdivided into 6 sectors. At the local urban level counties are subdivided into towns and municipalities, which represent the most important towns, and at the local rural level into communes, which include one or more villages. Next to these units, Romania divided its territory in 8 development regions, however, without an administrative-territorial status and legal personality (CoE, 2011).
  • Every four years, towns, communes, municipalities as well as each sector of Bucharest elect a local council (deliberative assembly) and a mayor (UCLG, 2008).
  • The Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform (MIRA) is “the main body responsible of public administration.”MIRA as well as the government, further ministries and specialised bodies of the central government “transfer competences, currently exerted by local government authorities at county, commune or town level”.  The county council, on the other hand, is “the government authority coordinating the activity of commune and town councils” (UCLG, 2008).
  • Romania does not have a legislated gender quota (Quota Project, 2013).

Civil society actors include

  • The Partner Foundation for Local Development (FPDL) seeks to strengthen the civil society, to support local development and enhance the democratic processes of governance.
  • With its work in 29 counties, Asociatia pro Democratia aims to strengthen democracy both at the national and international level by encouraging civic participation and local communities.

Capacity building institutions

  • The Romanian Federation of Local Authorities represents the interests of the local governments. Among other things, its objectives are to participate and bring forward the decentralization process, to provide services and professional assistance to local authorities and to promote local communities’  collaboration.

Fiscal control

  • According to law 273/2006 on local public finances, local governments are allowed to determine rates of taxes and local charges (CoE, 2011).
  • Their budget is further composed of shared amounts from the income tax, from revenues of the state budget as well as subsidies of the state and budget other ones (UCLG, 2008).

Key initiatives for participatory local governance

  • Two important steps has been undertaken with the new constitution from 1991, when decentralization was first mentioned, and in 2003, when the modified constitution stated “that the public government established in administrative-territorial units shall be founded on the principles of decentralization, self-government and public service deconcentration” (UNICEF, 2010).
  • With the Romanian ratification of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 1997 a further step towards decentralization was made. The charter acknowledges local authorities as a main foundation of democratic regimes, since they can help provide “the right of citizens to participate in conduct public affairs” (UNICEF, 2010).
  • The framework law on decentralization from 2006 defines decentralization as “the transfer of administrative and financial competences from central government to local government or to the private sector”, and thus is a further development towards the strengthening of local governments (UNICEF, 2010).

Challenges for participatory local governance

  • Despite the efforts that have been made so far, Romania’s decentralization still  remains unfinished and partial (UNICEF, 2010).
  • The former progress of financial decentralization has not yet been sufficient enough to realize substantial local autonomy actually acknowledged in the Romanian Local Government Act. A lot of the local authorities’ budget is still provided by the central government (Lazin, 2013).
  • Especially the areas of education, health and social services are partial decentralized with shared as well as exclusive responsibilities hold by the local governments. The results is an authority overlap and financial shortage (UNICEF, 2010).

Recent posts on this website about this country: 

List of sources (in order of citation):

Council of Europe (CoE), 2011: “Local and Regional Democracy in Romania.”

United Citizens and Local Governments (UCLG), 2008: “Romania.”

Quota Project, 2013: “Romania.”

UNICEF, 2010: “Decentralization of Social Protection System in Romania.”

Lazin, Fred, 2013: “Local Government Reforms in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet: Union: Some Observations.”

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