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Romania: advocating for better access to citizenship for migrants.

The Coalition for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees, a platform that convenes Romanian NGOs working in the sector of migrants’ integration, was established in the first months of 2017. The Coalition has an ambitious advocacy agenda, from simplifying administrative procedures to amending key legislation.

Citizenship is one of the main topics as the Coalition considers that acquiring citizenship is one of the macro-indicators for a successful integration path. After internal discussions, the Coalition identified four issues related to citizenship that need improvement: the beneficiaries of international protection should also benefit from more advantageous conditions offered for refugees; measures improving access to citizenship for vulnerable persons should be introduced; procedures related to minors should be improved; and the status of stateless persons needs to be addressed.

The advocacy efforts of the Coalition on the citizenship agenda are led by the Center for Public Innovation, the NIEM partner in Romania. As reported, these efforts included preparing and disseminating the position paper, meetings with the Ministry of Justice and the National Authority for Citizenship, and actively participating in public debates (in the picture accompanying the article: the Romanian Minister of Justice, Tudorel Toader, at the public debate on amending the Citizenship Law; source: Ministry of Justice). These activities continued in July and August.
In September, an intermediate milestone was achieved. From all the proposed amendments, the Ministry of Justice considered that the situation of minors is urgent: due to the poor wording in existing legislation, there are already persons reaching adult age and not being able to obtain IDs, meaning their rights are denied. Thus, the Ministry decided to promote this particular amendment through government decree (text in Romanian), which was issued by the Government on 20 September. Regarding the other proposals, although not rejecting them entirely, the Ministry considers the situation does not require emergency intervention, and it should be addressed in the Parliament, through the regular legislative process.
The Coalition considers it to be an interim success. One of the four points on the agenda was solved. For the other three, the debate has moved to the Parliament, where a bill will soon be presented. The Coalition is preparing its position while waiting for the debate to start again.