Romanian administrative division into counties (judete) has been documented since the XIV century. In modern times, between 1918 and 1968, Romania’s administrative division suffered repeated changes.
After World War II, when the communist regime reached power, Romania’s administrative division was changed five times. In this context, the new administrative-territorial organisation was shaped, through the adoption of the law of 17 February 1968 on the administrative organisation of the territory of the Socialist Republic of Romania. The counties, cities and communes represented the administrative territorial units, which were kept until present.
Now, the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) is a standard imposed by the European Union for each member country which represents the regional division of the country for statistical purpose. For a better coordination of regional development, in 1998 eight regional divisions were created, which are called development regions, each region having several counties (NUTS II level) without administrative power.
From the administrative point of view, Romania is divided in counties, municipalities, and communes (NUTS III – 41 counties and one municipality, Bucharest – which has a similar statute to a county). The county is the administrative representation of a region from the legal point of view, and is the equivalent of NUTS III regions. Even if counties from Romania are part of the variety of Euro-regions, they don’t have intense activity in this type of collaboration, lacking in EU funds absorption and in regional lobbying in Brussels.
Although law number 215 of April 2001 clearly specifies the decentralised status and power of local and regional administration, in reality things are more centralised. The current legal and institutional framework do not stimulate the development of regional capacity to effectively manage regional development plans and programs. Political life at the local and regional level is strongly connected to and dependent on the political decisions from the central government.
Corruption in the form of nepotism, bribery or conflict of interest arises in all government structures at local, regional and national levels. The new typology of politicians, which were named by media “local barons,” have a negative impact on local and regional economic development. There is a lack of transparency at local and regional level, lack of democracy at local and regional elections, the media is weak and the subsidiarity principle is not functioning. Romania’s poor absorption of European funds (last place in the EU 52% in 2014) is strictly linked to the institutional capacity of the Romanian public administration.
The idea of reorganisation of the country’s regions with legal and administrative power has been made repeatedly in the last 15 years: several administrative proposals emanating from various forums were discussed on public agenda. Unfortunately, no political consensus was achieved.
The last proposal of a decentralisation law was rejected by the Romanian Constitutional Court early in 2014 as being unconstitutional. Romania continues to function under the 1968 law of territorial administrative organisation, with small modifications – NUTS 2 regions were established in 1998 without administrative power. Romania, compared with other countries of its size, is one of the most centralised states in Europe and the financial redistribution is not correlated; public funds are sent from Bucharest to counties and municipalities based on political clientelism.
The Report on the state of Regionalisation in Europe.
More than 40 experts contributed to this work, by delivering detailed reports about the state of regionalisation and multilevel governance in chosen European countries. The study covers 41 countries, and each country report is based on a similar structure, thereby allowing a comparative approach among all studied countries.
- The first part of the report gives the political impetus from the main European stakeholders
- The second part of this report entails a summarised version of the country reports. The objective is to provide interested readers with a short overview of the main features of regionalisation in various European countries. The complete versions of the country reports are available on the AER website, under LINK
- The third part provides a thematic approach based on the main findings delivered by the country reports and the current state of regionalisation in Europe. The trends and outlooks lead to open questions on the future of the regions in the European landscape, and more broadly on the role of subnational authorities in the shaping of the continent.
- The fourth part gives the floor to the actual regional decision-makers in Europe, across a series of interviews and statements by Presidents, Vice-Presidents and elected representatives of the European regions.
Over the next months, we will be focusing on a different European country’s approach to regionalisation. During these months, look out for #RoR2017 on Twitter and/or Facebook and follow us at @europeanregions.
Strong European regions are a pathway to a stronger Europe.