Romania Report


Policies Developed

Romania’s WGA policies date back to the establishment of the National Defence Supreme Council (CSAT), whose stated purpose in its founding law of 2002 (Parliament of Romania 2002) is to be “the autonomous authority invested, by the Constitution, with the unitary organisation and coordination of activities pertaining to national defence and security.” The more recent National Security Strategy (for the period 2015–2019) (President of Romania 2015) plays a similar role and reiterates, under the signature of the president, that the document aims to “integrate organically the foreign and security policy, so that it may defend and advance national interest”. The Strategy is, according to the Constitution and to Law 473/2004 regarding defence planning (Parliament of Romania 2004), “the main instrument underlying national defence planning and ensuring the strategic framework for unitary coordination and organisation of the activities pertaining to national defence and security, through the CSAT.” However, beyond these explicitly formulated policies, Romania’s domestic and external cooperation efforts are based on a number of other coordination mechanisms.
Of particular significance is the 2016 EU Global Strategy (EUGS). Romania’s MFA and other line ministries were heavily invested in the elaboration of the EUGS under the coordination of the MFA’s Policy Planning Department. As such, several outreach events were organised, and various branches of the administration were involved throughout the process. One of the reasons for the depth of engagement is that Romania had by then already started preparing for the its presidency of the Council of the EU in early 2019. In fact, Pillar 3 (“Europe, as a stronger global actor”) of the four on which Romania’s presidency was based was almost entirely dedicated to supporting the implementation of the EUGS. Thus, every relevant sector has grown familiar with the EUGS and the associated tasks deriving from it, including the parliament and some thinktanks. At the same time, various formal or informal interinstitutional working groups were created. Since the EUGS provides a framework for longer-term goals, cooperation is structured, ongoing and involves regular meetings.
Romania has also tried (with mixed success) to streamline its development aid coordination. Romanian development aid used to be channelled through a special unit in the MFA, while some other elements of it (e.g. university scholarships for students from priority countries) were under the Ministry of National Education. In 2016, the Romanian Agency for International Development Cooperation (RoAid) was created, and its mission is to act as the single independent body coordinating development aid (as part of Romania’s EU obligations). Its mission statement sounds ambitious, as it claims to unite the “work of the Romanian public institutions, the civil society and private sector towards the global efforts of sustainably alleviating extreme poverty and supporting stronger democratic institutions in developing countries.” However, the strategic planning unit remains in the MFA, the budget is also allocated by the MFA, and input is collected via consultations with other ministries and agencies (including UNICEF, e.g., regarding development aid meant to improve children-related policies in target countries). Priority areas do not frequently change (with the neighbourhood and MENA being permanent target recipient regions), and annual planning is carried out. Given the rather recent nature of this initiative to streamline policies and the related funding, it still works better in theory than in practice. Among the reasons behind the remaining shortcomings is the fact that external aid has never been a priority area for either the MFA or the government.
When it comes to defence policies, Romania’s WGAs related to military mobility and the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) are examples of WGAs born out of the immediacy of certain topical issues. The policy is of high priority to Romania in light of its being host to several US and NATO bases and military facilities and of the general emphasis on interoperability, defence and security (not to mention its pledge to allocate 2% of GDP to defence in accordance with NATO commitments). This issue spans the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Internal Affairs and Transport as well as the intelligence services. In line with NATO’s seven lines of action in the field of domestic resilience, Romania supported the European Commission’s 2017 joint communication on resilience in the EU’s external action (European Commission 2017) and tabled the joint proposal (with the other two members of the current EU Council presidency trio, Finland and Croatia) of a Council horizontal working party on countering hybrid threats, whose mission is to improve the resilience of the EU and its member states against hybrid threats and to support action to strengthen the crisis resilience of societies. Again, these are EU- and NATO-level policies that have triggered an integrated response mechanism in Romania. The MFA took active part in preparatory debates on the joint communication in Brussels, but the parliament has also published its own communication as a follow-up, which reinforces the recommendations in the EU document. By nature, hybrid threats are complex challenges that span multiple domains. Implementation therefore involves the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the MND, the intelligence services, the general secretariat of the government, and the presidential administration.
In terms of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), Romania has been an active contributor to NATO-, OSCE-, UN- and US-led missions abroad (e.g. in Afghanistan, Africa, the Balkans and Iraq). Its interest in civil-military cooperation (CIMIC) has therefore been longstanding. What’s more, it has developed its CIMIC dimension in several ways (e.g. via the National Defence University and by participating in joint trainings and exercises with allies), and it continues to do so. One can also say that EU-level policies (e.g. those prescribing precise responsibilities to member states regarding their contributions to EU efficiency, deployment, pools of civilian experts, etc) have played an integrating role in Romania. What’s more, they have been eagerly embraced owing to their potential to further structure this interinstitutional coordination and to give more weight to the civilian sector, which is currently less developed than the military one, such as by improving the legal framework, training, recruitment and financial instruments.
Furthermore, Romania has always been supportive of an approach that sees the EU’s crisis-prevention role as being complementary to NATO, as opposed to EU collective defence, which is seen as overlapping. There have been ongoing efforts to use the EU’s crisis management and relief framework as an anchor to further develop both external (i.e. with other countries) and internal cooperation. Although Romania already has quite a lot of experience in this field (including in emergency services infrastructure, capacity of intervention, etc), it still needs to consolidate it. Among the government bodies involved, the MFA currently plays the coordinating role (because it has also been coordinating EU civilian missions abroad). The Ministry of Internal Affairs is the main contributor to such efforts, but some specialised tasks are also assigned to the Ministry of Justice, the MND and the intelligence services, especially when they involve cybersecurity, strategic communications and hybrid threats. Furthermore, the European Defence Fund (EDF) provides a good concrete anchor to help boost cooperation between the MND, the Ministry of Economy, and the domestic defence industry (i.e. private entities). The Ministry of Public Finance, which co-funds this cooperation, and the Ministry of Education (for the R&D part) are also a part of it.
When it comes to maritime security, Romania’s security assessment views the Black Sea as a particularly vulnerable soft spot. For this reason, the country places emphasis on maritime security and has coordinated and cooperative policies regarding related goals. As an overarching principle, Romania allocates a lot of importance to NATO-EU cooperation. It sees its security interests best represented by NATO, which, from the country’s perspective, was also the first supranational organisation into which it was integrated, in 2004, which was followed by EU accession in 2007. Furthermore, Romania is involved in the Three Seas Initiative and the EU’s Danube Strategy in addition to having its own strategy for the Black Sea region. It has joined these framework initiatives in the hopes of throwing the weight of cooperation on a number of civilian fields in the pursuit of strategic and often security-driven goals. Some of them have not produced much in terms of outcomes, and some of them (e.g. the Three Seas Initiative) are still in their infancy. Nevertheless, efforts are being made to bring relevant actors together to create a permanent form of cooperation.
Romania’s strategic partnership with the United States, which has pretty much developed in parallel to the country’s NATO contribution, has also helped to integrate policies, since the dialogue with the US comprises not just military operations, but also a number of other issues, such as ones related to taxes, immunities and litigation. At the same time, however, the administration sees the EU as the political body with the highest potential to generate frameworks that are immediately transferrable into national policies and mechanisms (much like the adoption of the acquis in the pre-accession period), and that, through subsidiarity, encourage cooperation with the local authorities and society at large. This is especially the case given the fact that these cooperation mechanisms with local authorities, which determine questions such as who is in charge of what, have been all but lost since the end of the Cold War. Therefore, all policies that have both an EU and NATO dimension translate quite quickly into WGAs, and a security-related mini-infrastructure exists among the relevant ministries.
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