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RIO Country Report Romania 2016

The annual RIO Country Report offers an analysis of the R&I system in Romania, including relevant policies and funding, with particular focus on topics critical for EU policies. The report identifies the main challenges of the Romanian research and innovation system and assesses the policy response.




  • Romania’s macroeconomic situation has been relatively stable, with low inflation and low external deficits.According to the Eurostat, in 2015 Romania had one of the highest growth rates in the EU (3.9% of GDP).The International Monetary Fund has forecasted that Romania’s GDP will reach 4.2% by the end of 2016(mainly due to the consumption stimulus) and decelerate to 3.6% in 2017.
  • In November 2015, the coalition government led by Victor Ponta from the Social Democratic Party (PSD) resigned. Subsequently, a technocratic government led by the former EU Commissioner Dacian Ciolos was appointed until the general election. By the end of August 2016, 8 ministers were replaced.
  • The results of the general election from the 11th of December 2016 brought the resurgence of preferences for the Social Democratic Party, which got 45% of the votes. Together with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), they hold the majority of seats in the Parliament.
  • On the 4th of January 2017, the Romanian Parliament approved a new left-leaning coalition government which brought also some institutional changes for the R&I system. The former Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research was replaced by two ministries: the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Research and Innovation.
    In January 2017, the new Government approved a series of fiscal-budgetary measures, which have raised concerns over the increase of the risk of budgetary deficit to over 3% of GDP.
  • As of 22 January 2017, significant protests took place across the country. These protests were a reaction to government's plans to change the amnesty and the pardon law within the penal code via emergency decree. This decree was adopted despite the massive street demonstrations on the 1st of February 2017.
  • In 2015, the Romanian expenditure on R&I (GERD) increased to 0.49% of GDP from 0.38% of GDP in 2014 (however Romania has still the second lowest intensity in the EU). The public allocation for R&I also increased with 30% in 2016.
  • The R&I investments in the business sector (BERD) showed an increase from 0.16% of GDP in 2014 to 0.21% of GDP in 2015 (compared to 1.30% of GDP EU28 average).
  • The underfinancing of the R&I system has generated significant brain drain.
  • The ex-ante conditionality for R&I was set to be finalised by the end of 2016.
  • The European Commission approved the amendment and the financing of the second phase of the project Extreme Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP), which is developed in Magurele.
  • The priority investments in 2017 are foreseen for the generation IV nuclear reactor (Alfred), the ELI-NP and the ELI-NP Laser Valley.

Main R&I Policy challenges

  • Increase public R&I expenditure and the absorption of Structural Funds. Since 2008, the Romanian R&I system has been underfunded compared to the targets in strategic documents and underperforms in comparison to EU28. Under the new Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020, Romania was allocated €30.84 billion, the fourth largest ESIF budget, but the share allocated for R&I is only 3.43%.
  • Enhance the efficiency of public expenditure for R&I and improve the mechanisms for evaluation and monitoring. The limited funds for R&I are dissipated across a fragmented and large R&I system, which lacks institutional evaluation and funding schemes based on research performance.
  • Improve the R&I governance. The R&I governance is often characterised by low administrative capacity, poor institutional coordination and fragmentation, frequent legislative, staff and institutional changes, insufficient policy capacity, lack of human resources with expertise or insufficient in number. A genuine regionalisation process still remains uncertain, while Regional Development Agencies have very limited competences in R&I.
  • Improve the framework for private investment in R&I. Businesses have little motivation to invest in R&I, they prefer external technology acquisition. While the private sector is in general reluctant in taking financial risks, which arise from R&I, financial services and instruments to mitigate the risk are hardly available.
  • Build synergies between science and industry. In 2013, Romania received a Council country-specific recommendation to increase investment in R&I and ensure closer links between science and industry. The recommendation was not reiterated in the following years, although the situation did not register a significant improvement. The absence of an explicit recommendation on this might be explained by the need to prioritise other important structural problems on short term.

Main R&I Policy developments in 2016

Geo coverage
Report year
Official publication date
Friday, 12 May, 2017
Last update: 18/10/2019 | Top | Legal notice | Contact | Search