Romania: Located in southeastern Europe, on the shores of the Black Sea, Romania is still an unknown destination in Europe, but there the rugged Carpathian Mountains, low prices, the wild nightlife of Bucharest and, of course, in Transylvania, Count Dracula.
Official language: Romania
Passport and visa: A Finnish citizen needs a valid passport or chip ID card as a travel document to Romania.
Time difference to Finland: +0
Summer time: +0
Agriculture and fishing
Romania has traditionally been a prominent agricultural country, but now the industry, together with forestry and fishing, accounts for just under five percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). In contrast, agriculture employs just over a quarter of the workforce. Despite large amounts of EU aid, agricultural yield is one of the lowest in Europe.
- CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Romania. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.
Agriculture was forcibly collectivized during the communist era (1948–1989), but during the transition to market economy in the 1990s, the land began to be returned to the previous owners. Today, around 85 percent of agricultural land is privately owned.
According to the Land Return Act, no family got more than ten acres of land and the average farmhouse is less than three acres. Many who returned to their fathers’ small plots were inexperienced urban dwellers or older people. There are almost four million such small farms – corresponding to four-fifths of all arable land – where most are grown for their own households. Only one-fifth of the harvesters are sold in local markets. For Romania defense and foreign policy, please check relationshipsplus.
Outdated and ineffective
Almost two-thirds of Romania’s land area is used as agricultural land. But the farms are small, only one farm of 50 is larger than ten hectares. The majority of deliveries to the food industry come from them as well as from the larger state farms that still remain. One consequence of inefficient agriculture is that much more products and finished foods are imported than exported. The degree of mechanization in agriculture is among the lowest in Europe.
Prior to Romania’s EU accession in 2007, the EU provided grants for agriculture to adapt to Union requirements. The reforms that have been carried out mainly concern the larger farms. Changing the conditions for small-scale farming is more sensitive. This can lead to many farms being closed down or merged, resulting in increased unemployment and poverty. The European Commission has criticized the slow reform process and sometimes stopped some of the agricultural aid in protest against cheating and lack of control of the payments.
The most important crops are wheat, maize, sunflower seeds, potatoes, barley and cabbage. Furthermore, fruits, vegetables, sugar beets, cotton and tobacco are grown. Rice has been grown in Romania since the 1970s. Grapes are grown for wine making. Animal husbandry is extensive with mainly pigs, chickens, cattle and sheep. However, pork and chicken meat must be imported while sheep and cattle are exported.
Lack of irrigation, commercial fertilizers, pesticides and other modern aids help the small farmers to regularly suffer from drought, malnutrition, pests or floods. Both severe drought and floods have led to several crop disasters since the turn of the millennium.
A quarter of Romania is covered by forest and forestry is an important industry. Many small furniture factories are mainly located in the north. Projects are underway to preserve and develop the forest stock, with the aim of achieving a balance between harvesting and planting. However, in 2015, the Environmental Investigation Agency reported that Romania has the largest illegal logging in Europe and that it is run by less reputable timber companies.
Fishing mainly occurs on the Black Sea coast and in the Danube. Carp, mackerel and sardines make the biggest catches. Half of the catch is taken in the Danube Delta. Cultivated fish constitute a large proportion of the total fishery. The industry has been severely affected by severe pollution in the Black Sea and in the rivers.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
4.3 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
58.8 percent (2016)
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of ROM stands for the state of Romania in geography.
Liberal PNL changes party leader
Alina Gorghiu is elected new chairman of the PNL Liberal Party after Klaus Iohannis, who must resign from the party leader post because the country’s president must be party politically independent. Gorghiu thus becomes the first female leader for a larger Romanian party.
Ponta resigns his doctorate
Prime Minister Ponta resigns the doctorate he was awarded in 2003. For a couple of years he has been plagued by accusations that large parts of the doctoral dissertation are plagiarized. Ponta denies cheating but says she needs to get the accusations out of the world to strengthen confidence in the government.
Iohannis takes over as president
Klaus Iohannis is formally installed as the President of Romania. He says in his speech that Romania has no choice but to get rid of all corruption at all levels.
Prosecutors are arrested for suspected corruption
Alina Bica, the prosecutor who has led the work of investigating organized crime and terrorism, is being arrested for suspected corruption that robbed the state of an estimated € 62.5 million.
Hungarian Foreign Ministry leaves the government
The Hungarian minority party UDMR leaves the government, which, however, still has the support of a clear majority in parliament.
Proposals on impunity for politicians are voted down
The Ponta government’s bill to impose impunity on politicians and civil servants sentenced to prison for corruption is voted down by Parliament. A number of corrupt convicted former ministers and local politicians would have benefited from the law, which has been condemned by the governments of several other countries.
Iohannis unexpectedly wins the presidential election
Liberals candidate Klaus Iohannis wins in the second round of the presidential election over the victorious Prime Minister Ponta. Iohannis gets just over 54 percent of the vote, compared to just over 45 percent for Ponta. The election result is seen as the largest political upheaval in Romania since the fall of communism in 1989, not least because Iohannis is one of the country’s small German-speaking minority. The turnout is 63 percent. Iohanni’s victory is partly due to strong support among the around four million Romanians living abroad. Thousands of people in Bucharest demonstrate with the demand that Ponta should now resign as prime minister.
The Foreign Minister resigns after poorly arranged elections
Foreign Minister Titus Corlățean resigns since the election procedure for Romanians abroad has received sharp criticism for having worked very poorly. The Foreign Minister is the highest responsible for these elections. The departure is preceded by large demonstrations in the country’s cities against the fact that many Romanians abroad were in practice deprived of the opportunity to vote in the first round of presidential elections due to lack of arrangements at the Romanian embassies. Later, the diplomat Bogdan Aurescu is appointed new Foreign Minister.
A second round is required in the presidential election
In the first round of the presidential election, Prime Minister Ponta gets just over 40 percent of the vote, while the bourgeois candidate Klaus Iohannis gets just over 30 percent. Thus, the two will meet in a second and decisive election round on 16 November.
The state budget is lost
As a result of lower tax revenues than expected, the government makes new budget cuts corresponding to EUR 317 million. Above all, projects that are partly financed with EU grants are affected, such as road construction.
Right to change parties during the current term of office
The opposition is facing harsh criticism of a new law that gives elected local politicians the right to change parties during the current term of office without losing their seat in the Assembly. According to the opposition and civil rights groups, the law is intended to attract opposition politicians to the government side, which can offer them greater resources. The government justifies the law by allowing party exchanges to make it easier to form stable local majorities.
Năstase is released prematurely
Former Prime Minister Adrian Năstase is released from prison after serving just over seven months of the four-year sentence for bribery. Romanian law allows early release for interns who are 60 years of age. The Court also refers to Năstase’s “good behavior”.
The economy is shrinking
The Romanian economy is in recession (decline) after backing two quarters in a row. The country’s economy is now shrinking faster than any other EU country.
Media magnates and politicians are sentenced to prison
Conservative politician and media magnate Dan Voiculescu is sentenced to ten years in prison for defrauding the state of the equivalent of about € 60 million. Voiculescu has previously been sentenced to five years in prison for similar fraud (see September 2013).
Russian import ban on certain goods
Russia introduces import ban on beef and cattle from Romania, citing an outbreak of mad cow disease there. Romania is one of several countries affected by the Russian food blockade since they made a critical statement about Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian Crimea in March 2014 as well as the Russian involvement in the subsequent fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Klaus Iohannis is running for president
The liberal opposition party PNL appoints new leader Klaus Iohannis as its presidential candidate. A few days later, PNL and PDL formally merge under the name Christian Liberal Alliance.
Ponta is running for president
The Social Democratic Government Party PSD appoints Prime Minister Ponta as its candidate in the November 2014 presidential election.
PNL selects German-linked Iohannis as new leader
The Liberal opposition party PNL elects Klaus Iohannis as new leader. Iohannis belongs to the small German minority and is mayor of the city of Sibiu.
Relatives of the president are suspected of corruption
President Băsescu’s brother Mircea Băsescu is arrested, suspected of taking bribes in an attempt to free a mafia leader from charges of attempted murder. A few days later, a son-in-law is accused by the president of trying to obtain damages for property seized by the former communist regime. The president is being pressured by the suspects as he has made fighting corruption one of his heart issues. A clear majority of MEPs urge the president to step down.
Former prison chief is charged with crimes against humanity
88-year-old Alexandru Vișinescu, prison chief from 1956 to 1963 during the communist regime, is charged with crimes against humanity by cruel treatment of prisoners, many of whom died of abuse and starvation.
The opposition closes the ranks
The two parties PNL and PDL join forces to strengthen opposition to the SPD-led Ponta government. The message comes after PNL leader Crin Antonescu announced that he is resigning and withdrawing his candidacy in the November 2014 presidential election.
Relations with Hungary are strained
Relations with Hungary are adversely affected when the Ponta government bans members of four Hungarian “extremist” nationalist organizations from entering Romania. The members would have participated in the Hungarian National Day celebration in places in Romania with large Hungarian population. The Hungarian government responds by demanding increased autonomy for Hungarians in Romania.
The government is being reformed
The Hungarian minority party UDMR joins the government since being promised the ministerial posts for environment and culture. However, Prime Minister Ponta needs the support of another party to enable the government to safely enforce the laws required to secure continued support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) lender. President Băsescu joins the government at the last moment since Ponta promised to update the government statement.
The government is cracking down
The PNL Liberal Party leaves the government coalition with Prime Minister Ponta’s Social Democratic PSD since Ponta refused to approve PNL’s proposal for new ministers in connection with a planned government transformation. The battle is mainly about the nomination of Klaus Johannis, mayor of the city of Sibiu, for the post of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior. The PSD remains as a sole government party with a scarce majority.
Proposals for constitutional amendments are rejected
The Constitutional Court rejects a large number of constitutional proposals drawn up by a parliamentary appointed commission (see January 2014) as they contravene the rule of law. According to the Court, Parliament has to recast a number of paragraphs.
The president is fined for violating the Roma
A court sentenced President Băsescu to a fine for making an abusive statement about Roma. The Court justifies the penalty for not being the first time that Băsescu has made a disparaging statement about the Romani minority. He has been warned twice before by the court.
The Minister of Finance resigns
Finance Minister Daniel Chitoiu resigns on the grounds that he wants to spend more time on the internal work of his party, the liberal PNL. However, according to some media, the departure is due to Chitoiu losing PNL’s support through a proposal to relieve the interest rate pressure for low-income bankers. There are also reports that the departure is due to his wife being subject to a preliminary investigation into suspected corruption.
The EU gives cautious praise
The European Commission gives some praise to Romania for its implementation of a series of reforms in the judiciary and administration. Cooperation between the courts and the Ministry of Justice has improved, according to the Commission, which emphasizes at the same time that there is continued uncertainty about the independence of the judiciary and that there are several examples of unwillingness to fight corruption.
The law on freedom of charge for high politicians is rejected
The Constitutional Court approves the new anti-corruption law for MPs and the country’s president (see December 2013). According to the court, the law contravenes the statutes of the Constitution on legal certainty and equality before the law on several points. In addition, it violates Romania’s commitments in a number of international agreements.
The Commission proposes constitutional amendments
A commission set up by Parliament to review the constitution of the country proposes a series of amendments, including new rules for the appointment of a minister, changed powers of the president, and changed principles of how the prime minister is appointed. The constitutional amendments must be adopted by both chambers of Parliament. Thereafter, a referendum will be held in May 2014, at the same time as the European Parliament election.
New prison sentence for Năstase
Former Prime Minister Adrian Năstase is sentenced to a second prison sentence – now four years for bribing an entrepreneur who has been promised employment in the state administration. He will serve a three-year prison sentence for extortion in parallel. Năstase’s wife is sentenced to three years in prison for participating in the crime. Năstase has previously served a prison sentence for corruption (see January 2012).