The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a €60 million (US$66.99 million equivalent) financing to Romania for the Justice Services Improvement Project, according to a press release. The Romanian Government will contribute €5 million towards a total project cost of €65 million. The project will enhance the efficiency and accessibility of selected justice institutions in the country.
Romania has made important strides in reforming its justice sector since joining the European Union in 2007 and the World Bank has supported these efforts with US$130 million over the past decade. The number of firms reporting bribery in dealing with courts dropped from 14 percent in 2008 to 1 percent in 2013, while the percentage of companies reporting that courts are not a problem for business operations increased from 28 to 73 percent over the same period, according to the World Bank’s Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey (BEEPS). Judiciary institutions have taken an active role in tackling corruption and the time needed to resolve civil and administrative cases is shorter than the EU average.
“Despite progress, many of Romania’s courts suffer from inadequate justice infrastructure and do not meet EU standards, which undermines the efficiency and hinders access to services for businesses and citizens, in particular for those in rural and poor areas. Moreover, existing information and communication technologies (ICT) are obsolete and limit the ability of institutions to function adequately and ensure automated, online-based, and efficient interactions with clients and counterparts,” the press release informs.
“Supporting the continuity and efficient implementation of justice services and anti-corruption efforts is at the heart of shaping a Romania that is fair and accountable to its citizens, attractive to investments, and committed to strengthening its public sector,” said Elisabetta Capannelli, World Bank Country Manager for Romania and Hungary. “The World Bank is pleased to stand by Romania’s side in its efforts to make modern, efficient, participatory, and transparent justice services work for all Romanians, regardless of geographic location and income status.”
The Justice Services Improvement Project will:
- Rehabilitate and build courthouses, particularly in poor and underserved regions of Romania, and will provide investments in ICT infrastructure to improve interactions with citizens, businesses, and across the justice network. The project will also support educational and awareness activities to strengthen the relationship between courts and communities;
- Assist the National Trade Registry Office (NTRO) in adhering to EU standards concerning services related to information about companies, certificates, bankruptcy-processing procedures, and other elements encompassing the life cycle of a company. For example, the project will support the migration of NTRO’s archives to an electronic platform, thus making it available to the public and reducing the time needed to access company data;
- Enhance the performance of prosecution services by supporting ICT investments, implementing audio-video and security improvements in line with EU standards, and facilitating adherence to human rights standards in prosecution interviews. In addition, the project will also help improve legal literacy among vulnerable groups, particularly in areas with high criminal rates.
“Partnerships with citizens, businesses, NGOs, and communities across Romania will aim to increase the impact and ownership of proposed justice sector activities. Alignment with Romania’s Strategy for the Development of the Judiciary and the Action Plan (2015-2020) responds to Romania’s efforts to strengthen justice sector reforms with a focus on five key pillars: accessibility, integrity, efficiency, transparency and quality,” the WB press release shows also.
The World Bank opened its office in Romania in 1991. Since then, the Bank has provided over US$11.1 billion in loans, guarantees and grants in sectors such as education, health, agriculture, environment, social assistance, justice, transport, and others. The Bank’s current portfolio includes investment lending, analytical work, and technical assistance to support Romania’s reform priorities. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, also has a vibrant program in Romania having invested more than US$2.5 billion since the start of operations.
In 2014, Romania became a contributing member of the International Development Association (IDA), through which the Bank provides concessional financing to its lowest-income borrowers, marking a milestone in Romania’s evolving role as a donor of the World Bank. In 2016, the World Bank Group and Romania celebrated 25 years of continued partnership in supporting poverty reduction and sustainable development.