Romania Sustainability Issues

The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Romania:

  1. Corruption

Corruption, pervasive in both public and private sectors, continues to be one of Romania’s most serious problems. Transparency International’s most recent Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Romania 84th out of 163 rankings worldwide. After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, Romania has struggled with corruption and establishing a well-functioning judicial system. For more than a decade, officials from the International Monetary Fund, NATO, the U.S.government, and others have urged Romania to root out corruption, especially in the upper reaches of government.


  1. Transport Infrastructure

One of the major threats is the obsolete transport infrastructure which continues to hamper the development of some of the country’s regions. The 2007-2013 EU programming period made it possible to finalise the East-West corridor crossing Romania from the border with Hungary to the Constanta harbour on the Black Sea (road and railway). Despite that, corruption and the lack of proper preparation of necessary works led to re-allocation of funds or loss of funds with the postponement of those projects till the end of current period, namely 2023.


  1. Lagging Industries (SMEs)

Romanian economy is currently lacking a critical mass of companies involved in production and services, be they small to mid-size enterprises (SMEs) or large firms. Statistics indicate that the density of SMEs in Romania is below 50 per cent of the EU average. There are many reasons for this situation, as identified in public strategies such as lack of capital, limited access to financing, difficulties in accessing markets, reduced innovation.


  1. Environmental Issues

Air pollution and water pollution caused by industries have resulted in serious environmental problems in Romania. The country’s factories, chemical plants and electric power plants depend heavily on burning fossil fuels- a process that emits high levels of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide – a key component of acid rain. The industrial centers of Cop a Mic, in central Romania, and Giurgiu, in the south, have severe air pollution problems. Bucharest, the capital, also has serious air pollution. 

Much of the nation’s industrial runoff ends up in the Danube river system, making water unsafe for drinking and threatening the diverse ecosystems of the Danube delta. The delta, the largest in Europe, was declared a World Heritage Site in 1991. Its lakes and marshes are home to hundreds of species of birds and dozens of fish and reptile species, many of which are threatened with extinction.

Poor farming practices, especially infrequent crop rotation, have led to severe soil degradation and erosion in parts of Romania. Today, nearly half of all Romanians still live out of farming, in rural areas. 

In the 1980s large tracts of marshland lining the Danube were drained and converted to cropland to aid food production. Deforestation, however, is not a serious problem in Romania, where forests cover 27.7 percent of the land.


  1. Healthcare

Romania’s healthcare system continues to be in very poor shape. The country ranks last in the Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI), for the second year in a row in 2018. It scored low for most of the important indicators taken into account for the ranking, including patient rights and information, accessibility (waiting times for treatment), treatment outcomes, range and reach of services provided, and prevention.

Like most countries, Romania has two types of healthcare systems: private and state. Because the government does not provide any support to private hospitals, they thrive by over-charging patients for consultations, investigations and optional treatments. State services aren’t in a good condition either. More than 15,700 doctors have left the country since 2007, mostly to other European countries that offer better salaries.

“The [medical] system is almost collapsing right now,” says The National Liberal Party (PNL) Senator Florin Citu. “Money coming from the state budget was used anywhere else but in health. Due to the corrupt managers, uninspired investments were made at much higher prices and lots of money that could have been used to solve threatening medical issues were lost.”