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Introduction

The information contained on this page represents the situation as of 1 January 2013 and is a summary of the country report produced by the country expert from the network. The summary can be downloaded here as well.

Contact:
Romanita Iordache
E-mail: reiordache@gmail.com

 

Country context

The understanding of the principle of equality and non-discrimination in the Romanian society is marked by three historical periods. Firstly, the Romanian society still has to come up to terms with the experience of being a part of the Communist block for half a century, an experience defined by an imposed rhetoric of equality which was de facto contradicted by the aggressive policies targeting minorities and ‘otherness’ in general, aggressive assimilationist policies regarding national or ethnic minorities, refusal to recognize Roma as an ethnic minority and forced integration as ‘social problem,’ criminalisation of consensual homosexual activities or denial of religious freedom for minority religious groups.

Main principles and definitions

The 2000 Anti-discrimination Law introduces a broad, comprehensive definition of direct discrimination, going beyond the substance and the coverage of the Directives 43/2000/EC and 78/2000/EC by sanctioning ‘any difference, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion, social status, beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, chronic disease, HIV positive status, belonging to a disadvantaged group or any other criterion, aiming to or resulting in a restriction or prevention of the equal recognition, use or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social and cultural field or in any other fields of public life.’

Enforcing the law

The Anti-discrimination Law creates a dual system of remedies: the victim can choose between filing a complaint with the NCCD on the administrative track or/and lodging a civil complaint for damages with the court (stamp duties are exempted). The victim can also choose to use both venues simultaneously which is creating difficulties in practice and it is overstretching the already scarce resources of the NCCD as the institution must participate in civil proceedings as expert.

Main legislation

The Romanian Constitution guarantees equal treatment of all citizens in Art.4.2 providing for citizenship without any discrimination on account of race, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion, sex, opinion, political adherence, property or social origin, and in Art. 16 providing for the equality of all citizens before the law and public authorities, without any privilege or discrimination. Art. 30 (7) prohibits ‘any instigation …, to national, racial, class or religious hatred, any incitement to discrimination.’ Constitutional norms are not self-enforcing.

Material scope

The material scope of the Romanian Anti-discrimination Law encompasses the areas protected by both the Directive 43/2000/EC and the Directive 78/2000/EC: employment and labour-related issues, including social benefits and social protection, access to goods and services, housing, education, access to health. The Law goes beyond these areas and provides also for protection in relation to freedom of movement, as well as for the protection of the right to dignity. When defining discrimination, the legislator took a comprehensive approach and the principle of equality and of prohibition of discrimination applies in relation to all fundamental freedoms.

Equality bodies

The national equality body, Consiliul Naţional pentru Combaterea Discriminării [National Council on Combating Discrimination (NCCD)] was provided for in the Anti-discrimination Law of 2000 but it was effectively established in the Fall of 2002. Beginning with 2007 the NCCD started opening regional offices and it currently has two such offices. The NCCD is an autonomous public authority under the control of the Parliament, whose independence is clearly spelled out in the Law. The appointment of the Steering Board members by the six relevant parliamentary committees, as a guarantee of the institutional independence, proved to be, in practice, a hindrance as politicization of the nomination process lead to the paralysis of the NCCD between the Summer of 2009 and April 2010. The April 2010 appointments had been criticized by the NGOs and by independent candidates for failing to observe the legal requirements and for politicization of the processes seriously hampering the need to professionalize.

Go to the European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities This initiative is financed by the EC Programme Progress. But the views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect the official views of the EU institutions.