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Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2003 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(98) 702 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(1999) 510 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2000) 710 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1211 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2004) 657 final - SEC(2003) 1200 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2005) 534 final - SEC(2005) 1354 final - Not published in the Official Journal] Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 157 of 21.06.05]
In its Opinion of July 1997, the Commission noted that Romania would have to make real progress in the coming years in all areas of social policy, especially in health and safety at work and public health, labour market and employment policies. It also ascertained that much remained to be done to approximate laws, strengthen the public administration and put in place effective enforcement structures before Romania would be able to take on the obligations of membership.
Since the November 1998 report the Commission has ascertained in its annual reports that the general pace of reform remains sluggish and that only modest progress has been made.
In its 2003 report the Commission noted that, generally speaking, Romania satisfied the requirements resulting from the accession negotiations in the field of social affairs and employment. Negotiations on this chapter had been provisionally closed.
The October 2004 report states that the negotiations on this chapter have been provisionally closed and that Romania has not requested any transitional arrangements. In general, this country is complying with the undertakings given and meets the requirements arising from the accession negotiations in the area of employment and social policy. In order to complete its preparations for accession, Romania must now focus on completing the alignment of legislation in the area of employment law, raising public awareness of equal opportunities issues, promoting the social dialogue and improving the health of the population.
The 2005 Report notes that Bulgaria is generally meeting the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations in the fields of equal treatment of women and men, health and safety at work, employment policy, social protection and anti-discrimination.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 25 April 2005 and accession took place on 1 January 2007.
In the field of social affairs, apart from the various specific action programmes, such as those in the area of public health, and the European Social Fund, EU legislation covers health and safety at work, labour law and working conditions, equal opportunities for men and women, coordination of social security schemes for migrant workers, and tobacco products.
In all these areas, the EU's social legislation lays down minimum requirements, accompanied by safeguard clauses for the most advanced Member States.
In addition, the consultation of the social partners and the social dialogue at European level are enshrined in Articles 138 and 139 of the Treaty establishing the European Community.
Romania's progress on employment policy reform has been relatively slow.
The official unemployment rate was approximately 8% at the beginning of 2000, but hidden unemployment is widespread. Besides, Romania has serious long-term unemployment problems and there are considerable differences between regions. The 2003 Report refers to the same problems and notes that unemployment rose to 8.4% in 2002. The report calls on Romania to make more training available to the unemployed to make them more employable. The 2004 Report notes that the unemployment rate was 6.6% in 2003, which was lower than in 2002.
In October 2002 Romania and the Commission signed a joint paper evaluating employment policy priorities. The first national action plan for employment was adopted in 2002 and covers the period from August 2002 to December 2003.
The second national action plan for employment was adopted at the beginning of 2004 for the period 2004-2005 and a national employment strategy for the period 2004-2006 in August 2004. The 2005 Report stipulates that further efforts must be made to assist the integration into the labour market of ethnic minority groups, especially the Roma, and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Romania's public employment services.
Although progress was made on health and safety at work in 1997, 1998 and 1999, notably as regards the number of directives transposed, much remains to be done. The 2002 Report found that no major progress had been achieved in the period covered.
The 2003 Report records marked progress as seen in the revision of the general labour protection standards in December 2002 to transpose the 20 health and safety Directives. Administrative labour inspection capacity has also been developed and in 2002 a national training programme for labour inspectors was introduced, and continued in 2003. The 2004 Report highlighted increased cooperation between the various ministries responsible and the continuation of awareness-raising campaigns and training of labour inspectors. However, despite these positive developments, alignment of legislation needs to be completed in the area of minimum health and safety requirements on temporary or mobile construction sites and in relation to the most recent EU legislation on asbestos and physical agents (vibrations, noise and electromagnetic fields). The 2005 Report notes that the recent acquis on risks related to exposure of workers to vibration, noise and asbestos has yet to be transposed.
The 2000 Report noted that the basic equal opportunities legislation was now in place. However, it also pointed out that this legislation still needed to be aligned with the specific directives on access to employment, the burden of proof, and the health and safety of pregnant workers. In 2002 there was progress with implementation of the national equal opportunities plan, with the establishment of a national programme for training Ministry of Labour staff in the central and regional departments on regulations relating to equality between the sexes. The Directive on the burden of proof was also transposed in 2002. In 2004 legislation was adopted to transpose the acquis on protection of pregnant women in the workplace, and at the end of 2003 a significant amendment to the law on preventing and combating domestic violence was adopted. Implementation of the national action plan on equal opportunities was continued and awareness campaigns were carried out in this field. This type of action needs to be continued. The 2005 Report notes that most of the acquis in the area of equal treatment of women and men has been transposed but that adjustments are still needed in the field of occupational pensions. Romania must guarantee the proper functioning, sustainability and independence of its National Agency for Equal Opportunities.
In the field of public health, the new social security and sickness insurance system entered into force on 1 April 1999.
There was some progress in 2002. A law on preventive measures against HIV/AIDS was adopted in November 2002. Other legislation encouraging reform of the health sector was also adopted during this period. However it has only been partly implemented and implementing measures still need to be developed. In 2004 a national action plan was adopted in order to consolidate the national system for the surveillance of communicable diseases, and a national public health strategy was drawn up. Moreover, with regard to prevention of tobacco consumption, the acquis on tobacco was transposed into Romanian law in June 2004.
The 2005 Report reiterates that the acquis in the area of human blood, tissues and cells has yet to be transposed and that combating trade in human egg cells requires particular attention. In addition, Romania still needs to develop a system for the surveillance of communicable diseases that is compatible with the European system. Access to health care, including preventive services, should be ensured for all citizens in order to improve the health status of the population. The persistent problem of ill-treatment in psychiatric hospitals needs to be addressed immediately.
Social dialogue was launched at national level in 1997 with the adoption of an act regulating the Economic and Social Council. Partnership structures have also been put in place at regional and local levels. The role of the social partners has been reinforced through the adoption of certain statutory initiatives. Despite this progress, tripartite agreements and arrangements predominate, reflecting custom and the weakness of employers' independent organisations.
In February 2003 a new law was adopted establishing a framework for the creation, organisation and functioning of trade unions. A collective agreement was concluded for one year (2003) between the employers' federation and the federation of trade unions. The role of the Economic and Social Council as a consultative body was also reinforced and its mandate was extended by the law adopted in March 2003. The revised text of the Constitution adopted in October 2003 consolidates further the role of the tripartite Economic and Social Council as a consultative body.
Measures have been taken to promote bipartite social dialogue and strengthen the role of the social partners, but further efforts are still needed to consolidate collective bipartite autonomous negotiations in enterprises and at sectoral and regional level.
The 2005 Report notes that, in general, efforts must be maintained to promote both tripartite and autonomous bipartite social dialogue, particularly at branch and industry level, and to improve the social partners' capacity to implement the acquis, in particular from the employers' side
In the field of labour law, a law on labour conflicts was adopted in 2000. However, while the new Labour Code had still to be adopted, no progress was made in 2001 and 2002. Major progress was made in the field of labour law when the Code entered into force in March 2003. However, a large part of the acquis has yet to be implemented by the adoption of implementing provisions, and adjustments are still needed to ensure compliance with the directives on collective redundancies, protection of young people at work and transfers of undertakings. The 2004 Report notes some progress, for example in the area of transfers of undertakings and raising awareness of the new Labour Code. The Labour Code was modified in June 2005 and new legislation, in particular in the field of European Works Councils, was adopted. Transposition needs to be further completed, in particular in areas not yet covered by the Labour Code (such as employer insolvency, posting of workers and the sectoral working time). The 2005 Report also notes that recent acquis (namely the Directives supplementing the statutes of the European Company and the European Cooperative Society as well as the Information and Consultation Directive) is still to be transposed. Efforts to improve the administrative capacity of the Labour Inspectorate need to be maintained.
To promote social inclusion, local committees to combat poverty have been set up in 41 districts and in Bucharest, and most of the districts have drawn up plans for combating poverty. The Commission and Romania have initiated collaboration to prepare for Romania's participation in the Community's social inclusion process upon Romania's accession. They are working on a joint definition of the challenges posed by social exclusion and policy measures to address those challenges.
The 2004 Report notes that, with regard to the promotion of social inclusion, progress has been made in identifying the challenges to be met, namely children leaving a public institution, young people without employment, farming families, the retired, the homeless and the Roma population. Poverty levels remain high but are slightly lower than in previous years. The Joint Memorandum on Social Inclusion, which sets out the main challenges and appropriate policy responses with a view to promoting social integration, has been finalised. An integrated strategy and a national action plan on social integration will need to be drawn up on the basis of this Memorandum. The priority objectives of this strategy and plan should be to take the population of working age out of the subsistence economy, reduce the grey economy, increase school attendance rates and tackle discrimination against vulnerable groups such as the Roma community and persons with disabilities. The 2005 Report notes that sustained efforts must be made, particularly in terms of strengthening the administrative capacity of the Ministry of Labour, in order to guarantee its full implementation.
Although the anti-discrimination legislation in force represents a major step forward, adjustments are still called for. The national anti-discrimination Council started up work in the last quarter of 2002 and has handled over 450 cases since its establishment. There is room for improvement in its capacity.
The 2004 Report explains that anti-discrimination legislation has been amended to include definitions of indirect discrimination, multiple discrimination and victimisation and to improve victim assistance. The 2005 Report notes that legislative alignment is still to be completed, especially as regards the shift of the burden of proof. The overall administrative capacity of the National Council for Combating Discrimination also needs to be improved. Despite promising efforts, the situation of the Roma minority still requires fundamental improvements.
Following a government decision on social protection in February 2003, specialised structures were created at district and local council level to handle social assistance for family protection and childhood, persons living alone, the elderly, the handicapped and other people in need. The satisfactory operation of these structures will depend on the budget allocated and the provision of qualified staff. In 2004, a considerable volume of legislation was adopted, particularly with regard to organising the social welfare system. The social programme was also adopted for 2003-2004. It consolidates the government's social policy and encourages social solidarity. Since 2000, public social expenditure, including education and housing, has increased.
The 2005 Report notes that sufficient funding needs to be ensured for the implementation of the decentralisation process. Access to social assistance needs to be improved, in particular for the Roma minority, and there is still a major challenge to be overcome in the area of pensions, where ways need to be found to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the Romanian pension system.
As pointed out in the July 1997 Opinion and recalled in the November 2000 report, Romania must redouble its efforts to improve the standard of administration, in particular for enforcement of the law in most social policy sectors, such as health and safety at work, public health, the labour market and measures to promote employment. Such efforts were still called for in 2003, although progress had been made. Similarly, the 2004 and 2005 reports highlight the fact that an ongoing effort is needed in order to strengthen administrative capacity in relation to European Social Fund management and operations.
Last updated: 04.01.2006