Romania: new legislation is expected to strengthen the policy framework for migrants’ integration
The Romanian Parliament has recently passed legislation aiming at improving the integration of beneficiaries of international protection in the Romanian society. By amending the national legislation on social inclusion of migrants, the Parliament is introducing stronger instruments for cooperation between central and local governments, and the civil society organizations. Access to education and housing are among the areas expected to improve.
The new legislation is expected to strengthen the policy framework for migrant’s integration, an area previously shown as week by the NIEM evaluation tool.
On October 10, the President of Romania signed the Law No. 178/2019, amending the Government Ordinance No. 44/2004 on social integration of foreigners that obtained legal residence in Romania. The latest, is the main regulatory framework for the status of foreigners (non-asylum seekers) in Romania. The bill was passed earlier in September by the Parliament, at the initiative of the Government, after more than one year of consultations with civil society organizations. It will be enacted in early 2020, after the adoption of secondary legislation by the Government.
The changes introduced are aiming mainly at improving the integration process of beneficiaries of international protection, by increasing the resources available and strengthening the cooperation between the central government, local governments, communities, and civil society organizations. There are four key areas where significant improvements are expected in the following months, after the implementation of the law:
- Access to education: the amendments clarify and, in the same time, add some degree of flexibility to the (free) language and culture courses offered to beneficiaries of international protection, and better affirm the right of children to education.
- Access to housing: the law is introducing the possibility of financial support for renting a house in the first year of the integration program (in addition to the already existing option of staying in an accommodation centre run by the central government).
- Community involvement: for the first time, the law is clearly stating the pro-active role of the local governments, who will inform periodically the national authorities about the number of migrants they can accommodate, and will cooperate with the national institutions to facilitate the integration.
- Multi-stakeholders cooperation and individual tailored support: the concept of local support teams is introduced in national legislation. The teams are formed by representatives of national institutions, local governments, and civil society organizations, and their role is to help each beneficiary with their integration program.
All these changes have good potential to significantly improve the outcome of the integration process. As the NIEM tool has shown, Romania has a good standing on the legal integration step, but is still lagging behind on the building the policy framework step. The new provisions, once enacted and adequately financed, will likely improve the situation.
The changes are the result of a learning process, and they also use the input from the civil society. For example, the positive practice of establishing joint local teams responsible with mentoring beneficiary of international protection with their tailored integration programs is not entirely new. It was piloted in a few counties, involving NGOs, and supported by UNHCR and the General Inspectorate for Immigration (the national authority for immigration).
The national coalition created in the framework of the NIEM project (CDMiR – the Coalition for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees) has actively participated to the public debate surrounding the new legislation, and it is already submitted recommendations on the secondary norms. The suggestions to both primary and secondary legislation were based on the findings of the NIEM Tool, the baseline and the preliminary findings of the first evaluation cycle.
CDMiR and its members will remain active on the topic, monitoring the implementation of the new legislation, and ready to support it, both with expert advice and local actions. On 3-4 December, an extended coalition meeting will include a session facilitated by the General Inspectorate for Immigration, and the new legislation will be among the key topics of the discussion.
Center for Public Innovation