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Romania: a new National Strategy on Immigration finally adopted

On 2 September 2021, the Government of Romania enacted a new National Strategy on Immigration, covering the period of 2021-2024. 

The previous strategy ended in 2018. Without a top policy document, the coordination between various public institutions was defective, impacting mostly the integration component. The poor coordination and the lack of implication from certain public authorities were among the structural faults underlined by the NIEM reports in Romania.

The new Strategy has four general objectives:

•    Efficient management of the immigration phenomenon
•    Strengthen the national asylum system and ensure compliance with European and international standards
•    Strengthening the response capacity of the Romanian state in the face of an influx of immigrants at the border of the national territory
•    Sustained capabilities needed to implement policies in the field of migration, asylum and integration of foreigners

The Strategy was adopted in the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, with the declared goal to „prepare the country for a new wave of migrants”. The Coalition for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees noted, in a rapid public reaction, that the new Strategy is heavily leaning towards security and border protection, while the integration of the migrants with legal status remains only a secondary objective.

In Romania, the institution responsible for  all aspects of immigration is the General Inspectorate for Immigration, which is part of the National Police. Naturally, the Inspectorate is leaning towards the security aspects of immigration and integration is only small part of their work. 

In the recent years, almost all costs of the integration programmes have been supported from the EU funding (including some EEA funding in the recent years), and in particular AMIF funding. The new Strategy is again leaning on the EU financial resources for the integration programme. Still, the GII remains responsible for all aspects of integration, even if the EU’s financial framework has substantially changed. AMIF funding will now be focused on the initial phases of the integration, while long term integration measures will be supported from other funds, such as ESF or ERDF. In this context, it is questionable if other institutions are ready to step in and contribute to the long term integration programmes. 

The Coalition for the Rights of Migrants, created with the support of the NIEM project, will monitor the implementation of the Strategy in the following years. The Coalition announced plans to develop an independent monitoring tool and to prepare yearly shadow reports related to the integration component of the Strategy. In the same time, the Coalition members, NGOs with experience in providing services and promoting the rights of migrants, will continue to be actively engaged in the integration programmes.