Romania underwent radical economic reforms in the 1990s that finally unlocked the process of growth, while firmly preparing the state for full European Union (EU) membership in 2007. This marked the fall of the totalitarian communist regime, setting the scene for stable and sustainable development for years to come.
This south-eastern country in the European region has attained and made irreversible progress on the millennium development goals, reinforced largely by the experience of EU accession and the programmatic and fiscal instruments made available to Romania via this political, social, and economic convergence. In the period between 2000 and 2008, Romania’s GDP grew from $40 billion to $204 billion (the highest ever). Since then, it has been fluctuating with a low of $164 billion in 2009 and a high of $199 billion.
MDG progress of Romania
According to the most recent report of MDG progress of Romania, the strategic objective of European integration has contributed considerably to the country’s attainment of most of the MDG targets. Furthermore, the element of modernisation instilled by the EU accession progress has allowed the country to move forward and assume targets that bear a higher value added for its own citizens.
As a member of the EU, Romania has also assumed its status as a donor state, using its own resources and experience to foster development outside the EU. Romania’s support coupled with its strong development partnerships to the republic of Georgia, Western Balkans, and Moldova – which Romania hopes will join the union in future – can be augmented by harnessing the experiences and capabilities of the private sector and civil society.
As the progress of the MDGs in Romania is assessed, it is important to bear in mind that the state has also set its own goals inside the EU 2020 strategy, with regard to poverty and social exclusion, employment, and education and investment in energy efficient technologies.
MDG 1 – Reduce Severe Poverty
By 2008, Romania’s rate of poverty had fallen to just 1 percent, and nearly all the targets had been achieved. Statistical indicators, including the absolute poverty rate, show that the share of poor people dropped consistently from 30.6 percent in 2001 to 4.4 percent in 2009, resulting in 85.7 percent reduction of the poverty rate.
Despite the massive progress, Romania continues to struggle with inequalities. The difference between poverty rates in urban and rural areas increased from 10 percentage points to 21 percentage points between 2001 and 2008, signifying the increasing inequality between rural and urban areas.
Romania’s North-East region is still the most afflicted by poverty, with a slight increase from 25.1 percent in 2001 to 27.2 percent in 2008; while the affluent region surrounding the capital city of Bucharest where the low rate of 6.5 percent in 2001 dropped further to 4.1 percent in 2008.
MDG 2 – Achieve universal primary education
Most of the targets for goal 2 were achieved, considering that significant progress had been made by 2010. In 2009, the rate of enrolment for Romania’s school age population was 79.6 percent, with no significant difference between rural and urban areas with regard to primary and lower secondary graduation cycles: 95.8 and 97.2 percent respectively.
Despite the advances, the Roma Inclusion Barometer indicates that approximately 23 percent of Roma population has not received any education; 27 percent have received only primary education; while 33 percent have graduated secondary school.
MDG 3 – Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
In 2008, employment rates for women aged between 15 and 64 had increased to 52.5 percent from 51.5 percent in 2005, representing an influx of 76,000 women into active employment. The share of women in salaried non-agricultural employment, however, remained constant at 45 percent.
The number of women above 15 years with higher education increased from 5.9 percent to 9.2 percent between 2000 and 2009. For women in the working-age population, the proportion increased from 8.1 to 21.6 percent between 2000 and 2009.
The number of salaried women increased by 11 percent (292,000) between 2000 and 2008; conversely, the number of women employed in non-salaried positions, including family workers in subsistence farms, showed an equally considerable decline in the same period of 58 percent – from 2.3 million to 1.3 million. This was due to a decline in the number of women employed in agriculture, and an increase in the number of women employed in services, construction, and industry.
Although some level of progress was made, the targets were not achieved.
MDG 4 – Reduce Child Mortality
Most of the targets under goal 4 showed a high probability of achievement back in 2009, and at the end of 2015, all goals had been achieved.
In the period between 2000 and 2009, child mortality for kids between 1 and 4 years dropped by 37.5 percent. In 1990, there were 27 deaths per 1,000 live-births, compared to 18.4 in 2,000 (a 32 percent decline), and later 10.1 deaths per 1,000 live-births in 2009. This represents a 46 percent reduction in the first 10 years of implementing the MDGs, and a 63 percent reduction from 1990.
Despite the remarkable gains, Romania is still far behind the other EU nations with the highest level of child mortality at 141 percent higher than the EU average.
MDG 5 – Improve Maternal Health
By 2010, significant progress had been made towards attaining the targets, and the goals have been achieved.
The incidence of maternal mortality decreased from 34 per 100,000 live-births to 21.2 per 100,000 between 2000 and 2009 (39 percent decline) owing to better medical facilities, more effective medicines, and increasingly wide-reaching awareness raising campaigns on specific matters.
99 percent of births in Romania currently take place in the presence of skilled medical personnel. This is partly because many first-time mothers in urban areas give birth in their early thirties when they have already established their careers and have more disposable income to care for their own health and that of their child.
MDG 6 – Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and Other Diseases
The targets under MDG 6 have already been achieved. The HIV/AIDS situation in Romania was not bad, and has remained stable to-date. The level of epidemic is low, and there is no sign of concentration among vulnerable groups despite high-risk behaviours identified among them. Vertical transmission is nearly zero, while 50 percent of newly reported cases of HIV/AIDS are from young people aged 15-29.
TB remains one of the serious threats to the health of Romania’s population, though there was a 30 percent decline in the number of new cases reported between 2000 and 2009, from 25,487 cases to 17,866 cases. However, the number of people with TB increased in the same period from 11,500 cases to 12,400 (8 percent increase).
MDG 7 – Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Though the targets under goal 7 have been achieved, they are considered part of a long-term strategy with commitment over more than a generation.
Romania considers forestation a priority in countering the impact of climate change – considering the country is adversely affected by repeated floods and droughts – and managed to increase total forest surface area from 26.11 in 2000 to 26.57 by 2009. This translates to an extra 110,000 hectares of forest cover.
The transition from a planned to market economy resulted in drastic reduction of greenhouse emissions after the massive industrial restructuring. Greenhouse emissions reduced by 35 percent between 1990 and 2000, and by 2005, they were 55 percent of the 1990 levels.
There was a 300 percent increase in number of households with safe drinking water facilities between 2003 and 2008, from 18,014 to 53,096. At the same time, the number of households with canal and sewage installation increased by 271 percent – from 16,046 to 43,435.
MDG 8 – Develop Global Partnerships for Development
Romania has also achieved its targets under MDG 8, including adhering to the EU collective official development assistance (ODA) commitments to the European Development Consensus and to Paris Declaration.
Romania has had remarkable advancement in ICT, with 113 percent increase in the number of mobile phones per 100 households from 2.8 in 2003 to 137.6 in 2009, and continues to increase.
The number of mobile subscriptions and broadband penetration also continue to grow considerably.
The synergy between the targets of the MDGs and those of the EU-2020 are evident, as the country has successfully laid the foundations for future growth and development processes, even as Romania begins to work on the SDGs – Sustainable Development Goals.