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UNCJR Position Paper on decentralisation

Publish date: Tuesday, 7 June 2022

The presidents of the county councils, gathered in the General Assembly of the National Union of County Councils of Romania, today, May 19, 2022, support the following of the decentralisation process in Romania

This Position Paper is an exercise of public management and local governance, its rationale being based on the need to strengthen the institutional capacity of local public administration, and not to destabilise and weaken it. Its elaboration started from the principle that the National Union of County Councils of Romania acts for the 41 counties of Romania, representing the authorities of intermediate local administration, and the decentralisation in the transition countries - as it is the case of Romania - requires a strong political support, needing a promoter at the highest levels of government.

The European Charter of Local Self-Government, adopted in Strasbourg in 1985 and ratified by Romania by the law no.199/1997, establishes that the public local administration authorities, empowered with effective responsibilities, must ensure an efficient administration, with quality services, and the Administrative Code regulates, according to the provisions of art. 76 – 79, the legal framework on decentralization, and the General Decentralisation Strategy establishes the transfer of new competencies from central to local level, in order to create the premises for increasing the quality and efficiency of public services in Romania.

In accordance with Art. 120 para. (1) of the Romanian Constitution, republished, with the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 57/2019 on the Administrative Code, with subsequent modifications and amendments, and with the Government Decision no. 229/2017 on the approval of the General Decentralisation Strategy, UNCJR requests the continuation of the process of administrative and financial decentralisation.

One of the specific objectives set out in the Government Program 2021-2024, the Public Administration Section, aims at resuming and consolidating the process of decentralisation of competencies to the public local administration.

A fundamental objective of decentralisation is to increase the administrative and financial capacity of municipalities and counties (defined as the sum of all available resources at the disposal of the administrative-territorial unit - human, financial, material), which must become more competitive. Our goal is to transform the central and local public administration into an efficient and effective administration.

The modernisation of the administration is necessary if we want to benefit from the European funds, especially those for the current funding period. If we fail to strengthen the administrative capacity - which we intend to achieve through the decentralisation process, but also through the other elements of the reforms - this goal will not be possible.

The decentralisation reform is very delayed and there should be an upward pace in its timing.

The decentralisation must be a national objective in the near future, to be achieved by the whole Romanian political level.

In this context, UNCJR requests to:

  • The Government – the compliance with the 2021-2024 Government Program of the Coalition for Development, Resilience and Prosperity, program that we, the presidents of county councils, have supported, and by which we have undertaken the resumption and consolidation of the decentralization process of competencies to the public local administration.
  • The Parliament - the adoption and the promulgation of the proposition of the Tourism Law, Legislative proposal nr. 411/2019, in order to complete the sectorial decentralisation in the field of tourism, this field being considered as a pilot phase.
  • The Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Tourism - not to block the decentralisation process achieved at the Executive level, which can be improved only by involving public local administration authorities.
  • The ministries involved (the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests, the Ministry of Sports, the Ministry of Family, Youth and Equal Opportunities), according to the General Decentralisation Strategy, approved by the Government Decision no. 229/2017, to comply with the legislation in force, respectively the Administrative Code.
  • The impact analyses to be made correctly, honestly and in compliance with the legislation in force by involving in Working Groups the associative structures of the public local administration authorities, according to the provisions of art. 77 para. (2) of the Administrative Code.

Thus, UNCJR

Draws the attention to the fact that the complex and long-term process of consolidating local autonomy is not a formal act, it must continue, and, moreover, it must be accelerated, but in an efficient, coherent, and responsible manner towards the entire Romanian society.

It calls for the initiation of a real and concrete dialogue with the Romanian Government regarding the measures that will be taken, in a medium and long-term, in the decentralisation process.

Adrian-Ioan VEȘTEA
President

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