Romania: draft National Strategy on Immigration under public debate
In Romania, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has put in public consultation a draft of the National Strategy on Immigration for the period 2020-2023. It is a necessary and long awaited document. The previous national strategy was due in 2018, and since then, there is no guiding policy regarding the sector.
The NIEM Evaluation shown that the lack of vision and coordination is one of the main factors that is limiting the efficiency and the impact of the national policies on immigration.
Unfortunately, the MIA very poorly managed the public consultation process. It was conducted exclusively online, for a period of only 10 days, out of which four were weekend days. The Ministry made no effort to ensure the participation of the direct beneficiaries, the foreigners living and working in Romania. Neither the academia nor the civil society were pro-actively consulted in the process. The intention to adopt the Strategy was not announced in advance, so the only way for individuals and organizations to contribute to the consultation was to send written comments by email, in the limited time allowed.
The Center for Public Innovation, the NIEM partner in Romania, participated with a written contribution based on the recently launched NIEM Evaluation 1 National Report, and generally on the advocacy and research work undertaken in the NIEM project. The contribution included several comments on the shortcomings of the process and the document itself, and 14 recommendations grouped in three categories: the quality of the consultation; the quality of the analyses and substantiation of the strategy; and the content of the strategy.
On the quality of the consultation process, the Center for Public Innovation noted that the participation is limited and many interested groups, including the immigrants, the direct beneficiaries, are de facto excluded. As far as the process is concerned, we have recommended an extension to a minimum of 30 days and the pro-active involvement of all relevant, public and private actors as immigrants’ organizations, academia, Human Rights organizations, and civil society organizations that are providing services to migrants.
The opinion submitted by the NIEM partner criticized the poor quality of the substantiation of the strategy. Essential elements, including a proper budget and updated statistics were not included. The document was not updated to take into consideration the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, although there is clear evidence that it is a game-changer. The recommendation is to update the analyses, and to include information from the existing research, in particular recent research commissioned from public funds by the Minister of Interior itself.
The main part of the contribution, focused on the content of the Strategy, is based on the observation that the proposed document is extensively covering the efforts of managing illegal immigration and ensuring border control. The Strategy, superficially is approaching the social and economic integration of foreigners, and practically does not include any activities to establish a permanent structured dialog between all relevant stakeholders.
Based on the NIEM findings, the main recommendations were to include two new general objectives of the Strategy, one dedicated to integration, and the second to structured dialogue. The specific objectives and activities on integration should focus on access to labor market and education, two key areas where Romania is scoring badly in the NIEM Evaluation. The dialog component should prioritize the involvement of civil society, and in particular of the immigrants’ organizations, in the implementation of the strategy.
Not least, the NIEM Evaluation was showing that the previous strategy failed to provide for a proper coordination and review mechanism. The new document is bound to perform equally poor, if the monitoring mechanism is not consistently improved.
The full opinion submitted by the Center for Public Innovation is available, in Romania, on the organizations’ website.
Center for Public Innovation