The Romanian industry has a broad base and has since the turn of the millennium turned upwards after the crisis years in the 1990s. The industry accounts for just over a third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs over a quarter of the labor force (2015).
From the communist era (1948–1989), Romania inherited several large heavy industry facilities to an extent that was no longer needed. This involved iron and steel mills as well as the manufacture of large machines, chemicals and cement. These inefficient state-run companies often had old machinery and used outdated methods, which led to low productivity and extensive environmental degradation.
The state-owned large companies had difficulty coping with the transition to market economy during the 1990s and several loss-making operations were closed down. Foreign interest in investing in Romanian companies was low until the early 2000s. The number of employees in the entire manufacturing industry decreased by more than half from 1989 to 2003.
The restructuring and privatization of industry went slower than in most other eastern countries, which in the 1990s sought EU membership. Throughout the decade, Romania received less foreign capital than, for example, Poland attracted in twelve months. Industrial production continued to decline until 1999, but has subsequently grown – for example, by 25 percent in the first four years of the 2000s and by almost 6 percent annually in 2005–2009.A strong growth region is the area around the city of Timişoara in the west, where thousands of foreign companies have made investments.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Romania. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.
The petrochemical production of fuel and chemicals is a significant part of the industry. The oil and gas company Petrom is the country’s largest company. Other traditional industries are the mining and metal industry and the production of transport equipment, including aircraft, and machinery. Investments in lighter industry have been successful since the turn of the millennium, such as textiles, food, furniture, pharmaceuticals and medical and optical instruments. The construction industry has also expanded. The automotive industry has developed strongly since French Renault became the main owner of the vehicle manufacturer Dacia and started manufacturing the cheap Logan in 2004.
Missile defense on site
The US missile defense plant south of Bucharest is ready to be put into operation, which is expected to take place in early 2016. The facility is mainly intended to protect the NATO countries from possible robotic attacks from Iran.
PNL demands candidates
The PNL Liberal Party decides that those who want to stand for the party in the 2016 elections must meet at least ten requirements. For example, they must not have been subject to a corruption investigation or had financial contracts for government assignments. Nor must they have changed parties more than twice or held high positions in the Communist Party. They must not have cooperated with the Communist regime’s security police Securitate or made racist statements.
Former EU Commissioner becomes new head of government
President Iohannis appoints former Minister of Agriculture and EU Commissioner Dacian Cioloș as new head of government. Cioloș forms a government with specialist experts, diplomats, people with experience of work in the EU and representatives of community organizations. It is expected to lead the country until the December 2016 parliamentary elections.
The government resigns after a nightclub fire
Prime Minister Ponta submits his and the government’s resignation application after more than 20,000 protesters have demanded the resignation of the government. The demonstration then held a fire in a Bucharest nightclub claimed around 60 lives and injured nearly 200 people. The protesters hold the government ultimately responsible for the slack regulations that made the fire possible. Ponta was already under severe pressure to step down as he was charged with a number of financial crimes (see September 2015).
Ex-President Iliescu is being investigated for crimes against humanity
Former President Ion Iliescu is being investigated as he is suspected of crimes against humanity in connection with deadly violence against protesters during the liberation from the Communist regime in 1990 (see Modern History).
Imprisoned Dragnea becomes new PSD leader
The ruling PSD elects Liviu Dragnea, who was sentenced to conditional imprisonment for electoral fraud in May 2015, as new ordinary chairman after Prime Minister Ponta, who is charged with a series of financial crimes. Dragnea was the only candidate and has been acting party leader since July 2015.
Prosecution is brought against Ponta
Prime Minister Ponta is charged with fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. He thus becomes the country’s first prime minister to face trial while still remaining in power. Thousands of people gather in protest against Ponta and the government.
Former prison chief is convicted of crimes against humanity
Alexandru Vișinescu, 89, is sentenced to 20 years in prison for crimes against humanity during his time as head of a notorious prison for political prisoners in 1956–1963. At least 14 prisoners died because of the severe hardships in prison during Vișinescu’s time as chief.
Ponta returns to service, retires as SPD leader
Prime Minister Ponta resigns after a month’s sick leave, but resigns temporarily as chairman of the Social Democratic SPD while trying to cleanse himself of suspicions of forgery, tax evasion and money laundering. Acting SPD leader becomes Liviu Dragnea, who is sentenced to conditional prison for corruption and electoral fraud (see May 2015).
Oil companies are suspected of tax evasion
Prosecutors order orders to seize assets worth about two billion euros from the Russian oil company Lukoil’s Romanian subsidiary Petrotel Lukoil and its majority owner Lukoil Europe BV, based in the Netherlands. The companies are accused of tax evasion and money laundering. Criminal investigations are launched against Petrotel Lukoil’s CEO and five other employees, including two Russian citizens.
Ponta is temporarily sick
Prime Minister Ponta resigns temporarily due to convalescence following a knee operation. President Iohannis appoints Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea to lead government work during Ponte’s absence.
Minister resigns after derogatory statement
Minister of Transport Ioan Rus resigns after triggering a framework crisis with a statement about Romanians working on construction abroad. He said, among other things, that “their children become liars and their wives prostitutes”.
Criminal investigation begins against Ponta
Prosecutors at the Anti-Corruption Authority are launching an investigation against Prime Minister Ponta, who is suspected of forgery, money laundering, damaging and tax evasion during the period 2007–2011, when he was a member of parliament and active as a lawyer. As a result, President Iohannis calls on the Prime Minister to resign, but Ponta says that only Parliament can dismiss him. Parliament voted down the anti-corruption authority’s request that Ponte’s prosecution be revoked;
The VAT on food is lowered
The government cuts VAT on food from 24 percent to 9 percent. The intention is to stimulate the economy by giving residents more money to shop for. On average, Romanians spend almost a third of their disposable income on food, which is far above the EU average.
Yet another minister is sentenced to prison
Liviu Dragnea, Minister of Regional Development, submits his resignation application after being sentenced to one year’s imprisonment for attempting to influence a 2012 referendum to cast the then President Băsescu with bribes and false ballots.
PSD and UNPR initiate cooperation
The ruling Social Democratic PSD initiates a collaboration with the country’s third largest party, the National Union for Romania’s Development (UNPR). Under the agreement, PSD and UNPR are to put together joint lists in the general elections 2016.
Billionaire gets jail for bribery
Romania’s richest man, Ioan Niculae, is sentenced to two and a half years in prison for trying to gain political influence through bribery. He must have paid EUR 150,000 to a member of the Social Democratic Party PSD ahead of the 2009 presidential election. The party member is sentenced to three years in prison.
The Minister of Finance is being investigated for bribery
Finance Minister Darius Vâlcov is forced to resign after a criminal investigation is initiated against him for suspected bribery. He is accused of receiving about two million euros to give a certain company a public assignment during his time as mayor of the city of Slatina. Parliament abolishes Vâlcov’s prosecution immunity. Eugen Teodorovici is appointed new finance minister.
Media magnates and politicians are sentenced to prison
Media magnate and politician Dan Diaconescu (see also January 2013) is sentenced to prison for 5.5 years for extortion. He must have demanded bribes from a mayor and a businessman for not publishing unfavorable information about them. Diaconescu is banned from running for public office for three years after release.
Ex-minister gets jail for corruption
Former Sports Minister Monica Iacob-Ridzi is sentenced to five years in prison for abuse of power and corruption. She must have awarded private companies overvalued contracts, which cost the Treasury the equivalent of around 540,000 euros. She must also have tried to delete evidence of the transactions from her computer. Iacob-Ridzi is the tenth former Prime Minister of Romania to be convicted of corruption in the Supreme Court.
Revolutionary veterans are deprived of privileges
The so-called revolutionaries – around 22,000 people who took an active part in the protests that toppled the Ceauşescur regime in 1989 – are deprived of a number of privileges they have enjoyed since the fall of communism. These have included higher pensions, tax relief and free train travel. However, the privileges have proven to lead to corruption as the number of revolutionaries over the years has increased. The abolition of privileges will lead to demonstrations in Bucharest for several days. The Ponta government is calling on those who consider themselves entitled to this state aid to re-apply for registration.