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Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2003 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 702 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 510 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 710 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1753 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1409 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2003) 676 final - SEC(2003) 1211 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2004) 657 final - SEC(2004) 1200 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2005) 534 final - SEC(2005) 1354 - Not published in the Official Journal)
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 157 of 21.06.05]
In its July 1997 Opinion the European Commission found that Romania had particular problems in the area of justice and home affairs, particularly as regards supervision and control of enforcement agencies and the fight against organised crime and drugs. Little had been done to tackle issues such as immigration policy, issuing of visas and border control. In view of the limited progress, it would be difficult for Romania to comply with Community rules in the medium term and progress in this field would depend on far-reaching, out-and-out reform of the institutions.
The November 1998 Report noted the lack of any real progress in the fight against corruption and organised crime, and border controls, although these were among the short-term priorities of the accession partnership. Some progress had been made with respect to visas and readmission policy, and international legal instruments had been signed or ratified, or had come into force, but other European conventions such as those on mutual assistance in criminal matters and money laundering had yet to be ratified.
In its October 1999 Report the Commission made a more positive assessment of progress in the field of justice and home affairs, with the exceptions of asylum and the fight against drugs. The most significant progress was in the field of justice but some progress had also been made on immigration, border management and the police. However, the administration - and in particular the Ministry of the Interior - needed to be restructured. There was a widespread need for working conditions to be improved in the various sectors of justice and home affairs, and visa policy had to be implemented more effectively.
In its November 2000 Report the Commission noted that less progress had been made than in the previous year. Some new measures had been introduced regarding asylum, visas and money laundering. However, in other areas, e.g. border control and the circumstances of foreigners, steps to bring Romania more into line with the acquis had yet to be taken. Romania was invited to continue to reform police administration and to combat corruption, which remained a serious problem.
In its November 2001 Report the Commission noted that remarkable progress had been made on visa policy, border controls and immigration. A great deal remained to be done as regards police cooperation and the fight against fraud and corruption.
The October 2002 Report noted that progress has been made in all areas of justice and home affairs apart from immigration and drugs. However, implementation capacity remained weak.
In its November 2003 Report the Commission noted that Romania had made progress with the legislation in most areas of justice and home affairs, particularly immigration, organised crime, money laundering and judicial cooperation in civil matters.
The October 2004 Report praised the legislative and organisational progress achieved by Romania in many areas of justice and home affairs policy, in particular as regards immigration, asylum and judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters. Nonetheless, there was still work to be done on legislative and judicial harmonisation and the fight against corruption and the various forms of organised crime.
In its October 2005 Report the Commission congratulated Romania on its compliance with the commitments and requirements stemming from the accession negotiations. It was expected to be in a position to introduce the acquis by the anticipated date of accession in the areas of immigration, asylum, the fight against terrorism, customs cooperation and human rights legal instruments.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 25 April 2005 and accession took place on 1 January 2007.
Free movement of persons
The principle of free movement and the right to residence of all European citizens is provided for by Article 14 (former Article 7a) of the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty), as well as by the provisions on European citizenship (Article 18, former Article 8a). Among the matters of common interest to the Member States, the Maastricht Treaty included asylum policy, the crossing of the external borders of the Union and immigration policy. The Amsterdam Treaty, which came into force on 1 May 1999, incorporated these into the EC Treaty (Articles 61 to 69). Free movement of persons is one of the key elements of an " area of freedom, security and justice ".
Member States already apply common rules in these areas under the Schengen Agreements. These intergovernmental agreements have been incorporated into the European Union (EU) following the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty and now form part of the Community acquis to be adopted by the applicant countries. However, most of the Schengen acquis will not be applied to the new Member States as soon as they join but later, once this has been specifically decided by the Council. This is the aim of the plan of action for adopting the Schengen criteria on the basis of a realistic timetable for implementing the Schengen Agreement.
The binding rules which new Member States must have in place as soon as they join include some of the rules on visas, the rules governing external borders and migration, asylum, police cooperation, the fight against organised crime, terrorism, fraud, corruption, drug trafficking, customs cooperation and legal instruments relating to human rights. As regards such issues as border control, illegal immigration, drug trafficking, money laundering, organised crime, police and legal cooperation, data protection and mutual recognition of court judgments, the new Member States should be administratively capable of dealing with them. It is also crucially important to organise the judiciary and the police in an independent, reliable and effective manner.
European asylum policy, a matter of common interest since the Maastricht Treaty, has been a Community as well as a national responsibility since the Amsterdam Treaty came into force in 1999.
At the Tampere European Council in October 1999, the European Union leaders decided on a two-stage strategy. The first stage - laying down minimum rules - should be operational by 1 May 2004. The second stage is aimed at setting up a common European asylum system based on a common asylum procedure and equal asylum status valid throughout the European Union.
Much has been achieved, including:
- the establishment of a European Refugee Fund;
- the adoption of a specific temporary protection system in the case of a massive influx of displaced persons;
- the definition of the State responsible for vetting asylum requests;
- the start-up of the " Eurodac " system of finger-print comparison for asylum seekers within the European Union;
- the conditions for the qualification of third country nationals and stateless persons for refugee status;
- the procedures for granting and withdrawing refugee status.
Immigration policy, a matter of common interest since the Maastricht Treaty and a Community responsibility since the Amsterdam Treaty, is currently being formulated. Under Article 63 of the EC Treaty the Council was to adopt, within a period of five years from the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam (i.e. by 1 May 2004):
- measures relating to conditions of entry and residence and to procedures in Member States for issuing long-term visas and residence permits, including those for the purpose of family reunion;
- measures defining the rights and conditions under which nationals of third countries who are legally resident in a Member State may reside in other Member States.
As regards "legal immigration", the conclusions of the Tampere European Council (1999) state that the European Union should:
- approximate national legislation on the conditions for admission and residence of third-country nationals;
- ensure fair treatment of third-country nationals who reside legally on the territory of its Member States;
- step up its efforts to ensure the integration of immigrants.
As regards "illegal immigration", the Tampere European Council agreed to combat illegal immigration and the organised crime that takes advantage of it. In February 2002 the "plan of action to fight illegal immigration" was adopted. At the Seville European Council in June 2002 the Member States agreed to speed up implementation of the programme adopted at Tampere and to develop a common policy on the separate, but closely related, issues of asylum and immigration.
Judicial cooperation in civil matters
The main instruments to facilitate civil judicial cooperation have been drafted at international level (the Brussels and Rome Conventions, for example). The Maastricht Treaty was an important first step, providing a legal basis for judicial cooperation in civil matters between Member States and allowing the adoption of several conventions. Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam, which places judicial cooperation in civil matters at Community level, these conventions have been gradually replaced by regulations of which the most significant are:
- the Regulation on the service in the Member States of documents in civil or commercial matters in the European Union;
- the Regulation concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility;
- the Regulation creating a European Enforcement Order for uncontested claims.
In 1999 the Tampere European Council described the principle of mutual recognition as the cornerstone of the construction of the area of freedom, security and justice. Finally, the Nice Treaty extended the codecision procedure to judicial cooperation in all civil matters except family law.
Police, customs and judicial cooperation in criminal matters
The existing legislation in these fields stems mainly from the cooperation framework defined in Title VI of the European Union Treaty or the " third pillar ". The Amsterdam Treaty amended the legal provisions in the matter by creating a link with the " area of freedom, security and justice ". Now Title VI deals mainly with police cooperation, the fight against organised crime, the fight against drug trafficking, the fight against corruption and fraud, judicial cooperation in criminal matters and customs cooperation.
The objective of setting up an area of freedom, security and justice (set by the Amsterdam Treaty) is to be achieved by:
- closer cooperation between police forces and customs authorities through the European Police Office (Europol);
- closer cooperation between judicial authorities including cooperation through the European Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust), which was set up by the Nice Treaty;
- approximation, where necessary, of the rules on criminal matters in the Member States;
- mutual recognition of decisions (in particular the European arrest warrant).
The existing legislation relating to justice and home affairs presupposes a high degree of specific cooperation between government departments as well as the preparation and effective application of rules and regulations. To this end, several programmes have been launched in recent years: Grotius II-Criminal, OISIN II, Stop II, Hippokrates and Falcone. All of these programmes have been taken on by AGIS, a single framework programme for co-financing projects submitted by promoters from Member States and the applicant countries in the fields of justice and home affairs.
The Europe Agreement and the White Paper on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the internal market
The Europe Agreement with Romania includes provision for cooperation in the fight against drug abuse and money laundering.
The White Paper does not deal directly with third-pillar subjects, but reference is made to matters such as money laundering and freedom of movement of persons, which are closely related to justice and home affairs considerations.
Romania adopted several pieces of legislation on data protection at the end of 2001. It ratified the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data in February 2002 and its additional protocol in July 2005. Further progress was made in 2003 with the adoption of a law laying down a scale of charges for the notification of personal data processing operations. In May 2005 a law was adopted establishing the National Supervisory Authority for Personal Data Processing, an independent body separate from the Ombudsman's Office.
Considerable progress has been made on visa policy. In April 2001 Romania amended the Aliens Act and introduced provisions on visas. Visas can now only be obtained in a Romanian consulate or embassy and are issued at the border only in exceptional cases. The national visa centre receives all visa applications and takes the final decision. The Aliens Directorate carries out additional checks on applications from countries with high levels of migration. A new visa sticker was adopted in April 2003 and has been used since the beginning of 2004. The first phase of the on-line visa system is operational and connects the authority responsible for aliens with the diplomatic missions in Egypt, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Turkey and Ukraine. Extra staff to deal with visa applications have also been seconded to the diplomatic missions. The second phase was completed in 2005 and the intention is to connect up the remaining consulates by July 2006.
Romania has largely aligned its visa policy on EU policy; as a result, it has benefited from a visa-free regime in all Schengen Member States since January 2002.
Since January 2003 Romania has introduced a visa requirement for nationals of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. A bilateral agreement with Singapore on removing the visa requirement entered into force in February 2003, and a similar agreement has been concluded with Estonia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania and Switzerland. In 2004, a visa application system was introduced for four countries on the EU's "negative" list (Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Turkey and Ukraine). The 2005 Report points out that Moldova remains the only country on the list with which Romania has not introduced a visa regime. Romania needs to start preparing for implementation of the Visa Information System (VIS) in advance of the removal of the internal borders on accession to the Schengen process.
In June 2002 Romania adopted legislation for the issuing of new identity and state border crossing documents for third-country nationals. The Government also concluded an agreement with the International Organisation for Migration on cooperation in the field of voluntary humanitarian assisted repatriation. In May 2003 a government decision waived the long-term visa requirement as regards economic and commercial activity involving nine acceding countries.
Major progress has been made on controls at external borders. Two emergency ordinances were adopted in June 2001:
- the first on Romania's borders;
- the second on the organisation and functioning of the border police (it provides for a new structure and a framework for cooperation between the border police and other bodies).
With regard to human resources, the hierarchical structure has been simplified, regional directorates reduced and some administrative employees now have to carry out operational tasks. The Commission welcomes the adoption of important measures to combat police corruption. The border police have signed an agreement with the national airline, TAROM, with a view to improving checks on travel documents and visas. However, despite the recruitment of additional staff and the deployment of contract staff to professional border staff posts there will have to be more progress if the plan to fill all the vacant posts by the end of 2009 is to be realised.
Legislation on the Romanian state borders and on the organisation and functioning of the border police was adopted and entered into force in March and in May 2002 respectively. The professionalisation of the border police has continued thanks to the ongoing replacement of conscripts with professional staff.
As regards alignment with the Schengenacquis, Romania has introduced most of the Schengen procedures. It presented a first Schengen action plan in December 2001, and a strategy on border security for 2003-07 and a second Schengen plan were adopted in 2003, along with an integrated border management strategy for 2003-06. The latest action plan dates from June 2005. In October of the same year an integrated border security system was adopted incorporating the measures to be taken before accession. However, the Commission has called on Romania to accelerate preparations for future participation in the Schengen Information System (SIS II) and the Visa Information System (VIS).
A cooperation protocol was signed by the border police and the customs directorate-general in March 2003 and common border posts have been established at four Romanian border crossing points. An agreement has also been ratified between Romania and Bulgaria for cooperation in the fight against organised crime, drug trafficking and terrorism and it entered into force in July 2005. But the 2005 Report calls for the enhancement of the surveillance capacity along the Black Sea coast and the Danube as the Danube is an international waterway.
In the area of immigration policy the Romanian legislative framework is now aligned on the acquis. Romania has concluded and ratified 30 readmission agreements with Member States.
The Aliens Act, which was adopted in December 2002, contains provisions on entry and residence and rules governing expulsion. An agreement has also been signed with the International Organisation for Migration to set up a temporary refuge for female victims of trafficking in human beings. In March 2004 an authority responsible for aliens was set up; an autonomous body, it has signed a cooperation agreement with the directorate-general for consular affairs. It is also consulted by the national visa centre on cases and applications to extend the right of residence. And in April 2004 Romania established a national migration strategy. Implementation of the national migration strategy continued in 2005 and in January 2005 a plan was approved to combat illegal immigration and a new reception centre was opened.
In the asylum field the 1996 Law on Refugees has been amended to introduce new concepts such as "manifestly unfounded application", "safe third country", "country of origin" and "accelerated procedure". Persons with refugee status in Romania receive financial assistance for nine months. Provision is also made for additional aid for certain categories of person, such as unaccompanied minors or single mothers. As a general rule, refugees have the same rights as Romanian citizens, including access to the labour market. Since February 2003 the new employment code has released persons with acknowledged refugee status in Romania from the obligation to hold a work permit before taking stable employment.
A government decision on refugee integration was adopted in November 2001. In March 2002 legislation was adopted establishing a procedure for reuniting refugees with their family members. This legislation remedies the most significant shortfalls in the previous legislation on family reunification. The 2005 Report stresses that further legislative alignment is needed on minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers, the Dublin II Regulation, international protection and temporary protection.
On the implementation side, a database to record refugees' country of origin became operational in August 2003, and it will be used in the procedure for determining refugee status.
In April 2004 legislation aimed at bringing the regime for refugees more into line with the 1951 Geneva Convention entered into force. Further amendments relating to their social integration were implemented in May. In addition, more staff were recruited to the National Refugee Office and the capacity of the Romanian asylum system was expanded considerably. In 2005 Romania formally adopted a plan for implementing EURODAC but further efforts on this front are still needed. The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) workstations at the National Refugees Office and the Institute for Criminology need to be upgraded.
With regard to police cooperation and the fight against organised crime, the Organised Crime Prevention Act was passed in January 2003. The same year the police force was restructured and a directorate set up to combat organised crime and drugs. Other bodies have been set up since - a national witness protection office, a money-laundering unit, an institutional cooperation department, cybercrime units and an intelligence department. Police personnel have undergone training, especially in human rights.
The Police (Organisation and Functioning) Act was adopted in May 2002 and implementing instruments were adopted in October and November. The Status of Police Officers Act was adopted in June of that year. An amendment requiring police officers seeking promotion to attend training courses was adopted in October 2003. In March 2004 ethics and professional conduct codes were adopted and in November 2004 a legal framework for the respective tasks of and cooperation between gendarmerie and police was established.
The Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Human Beings Act and an action plan for combating trafficking in human beings were adopted in December 2001. An interministerial working group on trafficking in human beings was set up in February 2003. A programme aimed at preventing and combating trafficking in children was also launched at the end of 2003 by the Romanian police institute for crime prevention and research.
In July 2002 Romania and Bulgaria signed a protocol designed to combat cross-border organised crime more efficiently. Other international agreements have been concluded with Albania, Armenia, and the Czech Republic. In November 2002 Romania ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, and the protocols against trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants by land, sea and air. A cooperation agreement with Europol was approved in May 2003. In February 2004 Romania signed the supplementary protocol on the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts, components and ammunition. Finally, a strategy to fight organised crime was adopted in December 2004 and an action plan in September 2005. Serious organised crime threats in Romania include drug smuggling, trafficking in human beings, financial crime and counterfeiting and there are several organised crime groups that operate internationally with links to Romania.
As regards the fight against terrorism, Romania ratified the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism of 1999 in November 2002. In April 2002 the Supreme Defence Council (CSAT) adopted a national strategy for preventing and combating terrorism. The inspectorate to prevent and combat terrorism became operational in the second half of 2002. In February 2004 the new headquarters of the operational centre for coordinating the fight against terrorism was inaugurated, and the national terrorism prevention system thus became operational in April. A direct line has been made available to allow the public to report useful information on the fight against terrorism. The Commission points out that the methodological rules for the implementation of the November 2004 Law on Preventing and Countering Terrorism still need to be finalised.
As far as the fight against fraud and corruption is concerned, in July 2002 Parliament approved legislation establishing the National Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, which began functioning in September 2002. It took over the anti-corruption section within the General Prosecutor's Office and its territorial branches. The Directorate-General for Anti-Corruption in the Ministry of Administration and the Interior began operating in September 2005. It reports exclusively to the Minister. Romania ratified the Council of Europe Civil and Criminal Law Conventions on Corruption in April and July 2002 respectively. The Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime was ratified in August 2002. A plan of measures to combat corruption was adopted in December 2002 to expedite implementation of the national strategy against corruption. In March 2004 a code of ethics and professional conduct for police officers was adopted. In addition, the new criminal code adopted in June 2004 will enter into force in July 2005 and will introduce the concept of the liability of legal persons. In March 2005 the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption entered into force. Generally the focus of the State's fight against corruption is still on adopting new legislation and changing the institutional landscape.
In January 2003 a commission to study forged euros became operational. In March 2004 a national central office was set up to combat counterfeiting. In June Romania also adopted a law on the criminal liability of legal persons for the crime of currency counterfeiting. However, Romania still has to bring its law into line with the 1995 Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests.
A drugs squad was set up in March 2001. From the legislative perspective, Romania has acceded to all the international conventions referred to in Community drugs law. In June 2002 it ratified the Agreement on Illicit Traffic by Sea. New legislation on precursors was adopted in June 2002. In December 2004 further legislation was passed to align more closely with the acquis on controlling synthetic drugs. In January 2003 the Government adopted a national drugs strategy for 2003-04 and established a national drugs agency. A new national strategy was adopted in February 2005 and this was followed in May by an action plan, both in line with the European Union drugs strategy 2005-12. Legislation was passed in November 2004 to ensure that coherent national drug seizure statistics are produced. This was followed in February 2005 by agreements signed by the relevant law enforcement agencies to send data to the national anti-drug agency (ANA), which is the sole body able to produce comprehensive national statistics. Efforts need to be made to improve the administrative capacity for liasing with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction by strengthening the role and mandate of the ANA and facilitating greater participation by Romanian experts in the Centre's technical meetings.
The criminal code and the code of criminal procedure have been amended in respect of money laundering. Although Romanian law in this area has been largely brought into line with the acquis, a Money Laundering Prevention Act was passed in December 2002. In August 2002 Romania ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime. Alignment with the second Money Laundering Directive was completed through legislative amendments in June and September 2005.
Rules governing the organisation and functioning of the National Office for the Prevention and Control of Money Laundering were adopted in May 2002. In March 2004 responsibility for the Office was transferred to the local control authority and then to the Prime Minister's Office. A new Board and a new President were appointed in June 2004. The following month it was eventually agreed that the Prime Minister would decide on the powers of the National Office and its Board.
An anti-fraud department was set up in January 2001 for the purposes of customs cooperation. A national database has also been established in accordance with the requirements of the CIS (Customs Information System) Convention. The interdepartmental working party set up within the customs administration with a view to acceding to the Convention is currently also working on the 1997 Convention on Mutual Assistance and Cooperation between Customs Administrations (Naples II) and the 1995 Convention on the Use of Information Technology for Customs Purposes.
Anti-fraud control teams have been set up. An action programme against corruption in the customs administration and a sector action plan against corruption have been drawn up as part of the national programme on prevention of corruption and the national action plan against corruption. A number of cooperation agreements have been signed between the customs administration and other institutions such as the border police, the national police, the financial guard and the copyright office. Mutual assistance agreements have been concluded with the customs authorities of Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine and Yugoslavia. Despite the adoption in April 2005 of a new strategy to prevent corruption and clarification of which body within the national customs authority is responsible for fighting corruption, enforcement results are needed urgently.
Romania has ratified most of the international conventions on judicial cooperation, and in particular:
- the 1970 Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad;
- the 1980 Hague Convention on International Access to Justice;
- the European Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions Concerning Custody of Children.
It still has to ratify the 1965 Hague Convention on the Service of Documents, though an Act authorising accession was passed in April 2003. In May 2004 the Law on accession to the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation of Foreign Public Documents (1961) was amended in order to transfer central government powers to local courts and authorities.
Regarding judicial cooperation in civil matters, Romania adopted legislation in May 2003 on international judicial assistance in civil matters and on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters given in Member States of the European Union. In October 2003 an Order of the Justice Ministry approved the rules for the application of the relevant laws.
Regarding judicial cooperation in criminal matters, Romania has adopted domestic legislation transposing the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. In December 2001 it ratified the additional protocol to the European Convention concerning the Transfer Abroad of Convicted Persons. It also ratified an agreement with France to facilitate the return of illegally resident minors in November 2002. In July 2004 a law on international judicial cooperation in criminal matters was adopted. In 2005 Romania designated a Eurojust contact point. New legislation guarantees magistrates' personal and institutional independence and emphasises individual and managerial accountability and responsibility. There has been some progress such as the full introduction of a system for the random allocation of cases to judges but there are still some long delays in obtaining court rulings due primarily to magistrates' heavy workloads.
Romania has now ratified all legal instruments concerning human rights with the exception of Protocol 12 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms dealing with the general prohibition of discrimination.
This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.