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Legal framework

According to the Constitution (1991/2003), ‘in Romania the official language is Romanian.’

The Romanian sign language and the language specific to deaf-blind persons were officially acknowledged through the Emergency ordinance 102/1999; this ordinance was rescinded by Law 448/2006, which does not reiterate the official acknowledgment of the two languages, but stipulates that users of the Romanian sign language and of the language specific to deaf-blind persons may have access to authorised interpreters.

In Romania there are no legal regulations concerning languages.

Law 500/2004 concerning the use of Romanian in public places, relationships and institutions could perhaps be considered as such, although its scope is limited to the translation/adaptation into Romanian of any text of public interest expressed in a foreign language. The violation of this law does not attract any sanction.

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (designated as the Charter in the following text) has become a part of internal legislation.

In Romania there are several legal regulations relating to various domains, which refer to the most diverse linguistic aspects:


Thus, according to Law 215/2001, the Romanian language shall be used in the relations between the citizens and the local public administration authorities, but the law allows also for the use of the language of a national minority. The Norms of application of the stipulations comprised by this law, approved by the Governmental decision 1206/2001, detail its provisions.

Audiovisual media

Law 41/1994 specifies that the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Society and the Romanian Television Society deal with the making of programmes in Romanian, in the languages of ethnic minorities or in other languages; it is compulsory that they should promote the values of the Romanian language, of the national and universal heritage, and of the national minorities.

According to Law 500/2004, the television programmes broadcast in foreign languages by Romanian stations and/or the programmes of foreign stations broadcast under a Romanian audiovisual licence must be dubbed in Romanian; in cases of emergency, broadcasters shall resort to simultaneous translation or interpretation; the programmes representing the language of minorities and those exhibiting an ethnographical character are not included in the application of this stipulation. 

Consumer protection

Ordinance 21/1992 states that all the information referring to products and services offered to consumers and the accompanying documents and contracts must be written in Romanian (which does not exclude their being presented in other languages as well); the transport operators who work on the territory of Romania are under an obligation to offer their customers in writing, as an annex to their fare of transport, all useful information regarding the respective service.

Law 500/2004 specifies that the labelling and the instructions for use concerning foreign products sold in Romania are to be accompanied by a translation into Romanian.


The Constitution stipulates that instruction at all levels shall be carried out in Romanian and may also be practised in a foreign language of international circulation; the right of persons belonging to national minorities to learn their mother tongue and their right to be educated in this language are guaranteed.

Law 1/2011 on education underlines that learning in the Romanian language in schools is compulsory for all Romanian citizens. In each city or town, educational institutions and study facilities with teaching in Romanian and, as necessary, with tuition in the languages of the national minorities shall be established and shall operate, or teaching shall be provided in the mother tongue in the closest town, if this is possible.

Governmental decision 404/2006 stipulates that the conceptualisation, the writing and the presentation of the master’s degree dissertation may also be done in a foreign language, and in such situation the paper is to be accompanied by an abstract in Romanian.

Order 5691/2011 includes the obligation that the habilitation thesis should be written and defended in English, except when it concerns either Romanian language and literature, Romanian law or the language and literature of a national minority; in such cases, the theses may be written and defended in Romanian, English, French, German or the language of the respective ethnic minority; the abstract is written in Romanian and English and also in the language the thesis is written in. The Board makes up its report in the language that the thesis was defended in; if it is written in a language other than Romanian, a translation into Romanian should also be added.

Justice system

The Constitution stipulates that the legal procedure shall be conducted in Romanian; Romanian citizens belonging to national minorities have the right to express themselves in their mother tongue in courts of law.      

According to Law 272/2004, the children belonging to national minorities also have the right to use their mother tongue in procedures that concern them.    

Law 304/2004 stipulates that the procedural petitions and documents shall be drawn up in Romanian. 
For the civil and criminal trials respectively, the Civil procedure code (2010) and the Criminal procedure code (2010) stipulate the same thing.    
Law 36/1995 specifies that acts at notary offices are written in Romanian.

World of work

Law 188/1999 stipulates that a public officemay be occupied by a person who is able to use Romanian in speaking and writing, and that in those areas where a national minority represents more than 20% of the population, some public clerks working for the services that are in direct contact with the citizens should also be able to use the language of the respective minority.

According to Law 183/2006, the standardised use of the set of characters (codification, adequate standard keyboard) in electronic documents in Romanian and in the languages of the national minorities respectively is mandatory for public authorities, institutions and notaries.


Institutional body with the responsibility for developing, implementing and controlling linguistic legislation

Law 752/2001 stipulates that the Romanian Academy has the mission to monitor the development of Romanian language and it establishes the mandatory orthographical rules.     

According to Law 504/2002, The National Council for the Audiovisual/NCA shall provide for the protection of Romanian, as well as of the languages of national minorities in its field of competence and is authorised to issue decisions in regard to the monitoring of the correct expression, in radio and television broadcasts, in Romanian and in the languages of national minorities. As a result of a collaboration with NCA, the ‘Iorgu Iordan – Alexandru Rosetti’ Institute of Linguistics of the Romanian Academy monitored the quality of Romanian spoken on the radio and on TV in the period spanning from 2007 to 2012.   

The General Direction for Education in the languages of national minorities from the Ministry of Education deals with the carrying out, organisation and content of education in languages of ethnic minorities. The necessary measures are proposed to the Government through the Department for Interethnic Relationships. The local public administration authorities, the public institutions subordinated to them and the decentralised public services from those areas where a national minority represents more than 20% of the population ensure the use of the language of the respective minority in the relationships they have with them.      
The Ministry of Culture and National Patrimony ensures, among others, the respecting and promoting of the right to linguistic diversity. The Minister of Culture has the task of applying Law 500/2004.

The application of the Charter is directly incumbent on the prefects, mayors, presidents of county councils, secretaries of territorial-administrative units, the Ministry of National Education, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Society, the Romanian Television Society, the courts of law, etc.  


Legal provisions concerning the linguistic integration of migrants and public linguistic training facilities available to them

According to Law 21/1991, Romanian citizenship can be granted to a foreign citizen/person without citizenship who knows Romanian, enabling him to integrate himself in the social life. If the conditions for Romanian citizenship granting are met, the Commission schedules an interview with the respective person. 

Among the conditions for granting the right to long-time residential status, the Emergency ordinance 194/2002 sets for the foreign nationals holding a temporary residence permit or enjoying international protection in Romania the condition of knowing Romanian at least at a satisfactory level.

Ordinance 44/2004 specifies that the adults who acquired a form of protection in Romania benefit, on request and free of any tuition fee, from courses of learning Romanian. According to the same Ordinance, minors in the same situation are offered a course of initiation in Romanian that is free of tuition fee for the duration of a school year, at the end of which they may be integrated in classes corresponding to their age.


Principal legal provisions in force concerning the use of regional and minority languages

According to the Constitution, the State recognises and guarantees the right of persons belonging to national minorities to the preservation, development and expression of their linguistic identity.

Law 272/2004 stipulates that a child belonging to a linguistic minority has the right to use his own language with other members of the community to which the child belongs.  

Apart from Romanian, the languages spoken in Romania are not specified in the legislation. The only exception to this is Law 282/2007 for the ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, through which Romania admitted 20 languages – the highest number among the EU States. These languages are grouped in two categories: ten of them (Albanian, Armenian, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Polish, Romani, Ruthenian, Tatar and Yiddish) enjoy general protection; the other ten (Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, German, Hungarian, Russian, Serbian, Slovakian, Turkish and Ukrainian) benefit from an increased level of protection in the domains chosen for each language. No language among these was declared by Romania as a non-territorial language. The Department for Ethnical Relationships of the Government of Romania (which co-ordinates the Council for National Minorities, a consultative agency of the government that ensures the relationships with the legally constituted organisations of citizens that belong to the ethnic minorities represented in the Parliament of Romania) made the First periodic report concerning the application of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in Romania, which refers to the situation of each language until the year of 2010; supplementary information was added subsequently. The first periodic report of the experts of the Council of Europe was published in 2012.

Minority languages in the audiovisual media

According to Law 504/2002, in those areas where a national minority represents more than 20% of the population, the distributors shall also provide for the free reception of programmes in the language of the respective minority.

Minority languages in education

In the instrument of ratification of the Charter, Romania declared that the number considered as sufficient in the Charter referring to the instruction for minority groups means the minimum number of pupils necessary for the formation of a class/group as specified by the Law on education in force at the date of the ratification of the Charter. The current Law on national education admits that in those places where there is demand for the form of education in the mother tongue of a national minority, the number of pupils and preschoolers may be lower than the minimum stipulated in the law.

Law 1/2011 stipulates that, taking into account local needs, groups / classes / sections / school units with teaching in the languages of national minorities may be established, upon request of parents or legal guardians.

In the opinion of European experts, this latter condition constitutes an infringement compared to the requirements of the Charter, which imposes on the State party the obligation of teaching in the minority languages without there being necessary a previous request on behalf of the parents or the pupils.

According to Law 1/2011, in pre-university education involving teaching in the languages of the national minorities, all subjects are studied in the mother tongue, with the exception of Romanian language and literature. Romania’s history and geography are taught in these languages; it is compulsory to transcribe and acquire the place names and Romanian proper names. For the pupils belonging to national minorities who attend schools with tuition in Romanian or in another language than their mother tongue, the study of the language and the literature of their mother tongue as well as the history and traditions of the respective national minority shall be approved as school subjects upon request. The entrance and graduation examinations may be taken in the language in which the subjects in question have been studied.

Law 448/2006 specifies that all forms of education for disabled persons may also be practised in the language of national minorities. 

Law 1/2011 stipulates that the higher education for national minorities takes place in higher education institutions where faculties / lines / educational programmes with teaching in the mother tongue operate and in multicultural and multilingual higher education institutions; in higher education institutions groups / sections / lines with tuition in the languages of the minorities may be organised.

Minority languages in the justice system

The condition that those citizens who belong to the ethnic minorities should reach a significant level in the respective justice constituency does not exist in the legislation.

Law 304/2004 contains more detailed provisions concerning the use of minority languages in the justice system. 

Law 211/2004 stipulates that if the victim of an offence belongs to a national minority, the information can be brought to his knowledge in his mother tongue.

Minority languages in local administration

According to the Constitution, in the territorial-administrative units where citizens belonging to a national minority have a significant weight, provision shall be made for use of that national minority’s language in the relations with the local public administration authorities and the decentralised public services.

The significant weight was fixed by Law 215/2001 as a share of over 20% of the population of a territorial-administrative unit. In the opinion of European experts, this percentage is too high and it is necessary for Romanian authorities to re-examine it. Invoking the organic character of the law and the great number of languages for which Romania has ratified the Charter, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration answered that this modification would require a large public debate and would increase the inherent costs necessary for its application. 

Law 215/2001 stipulates that in the territorial-administrative units in which the citizens belonging to a national minority hold a share of over 20% of the population, in their relations with the local public administration authorities and with their own specialty apparatus, they may also address themselves in their mother tongue and shall receive an answer both in Romanian and in their mother tongue. In the local councils in which the councillors belonging to a national minority represent at least one-fifth of the total number, the mother tongue may also be used in the council sittings.

According to Law 360/2002, in those areas where a national minority represents more than 20% of the population, policemen who speak the language of the respective minority shall also be enlisted.



Financial support mechanisms aimed at encouraging the use of national and minority languages

Law 1/2011stipulates that for the basic financing of pre-university educational institutions with teaching in the languages of the national minorities, the standard cost per pupil and preschooler is calculated by using a bigger coefficient based on correction factors, by taking into account the isolation and the low number of pupils/preschoolers.


Teaching foreign languages within the education system

The first foreign language is compulsorily introduced in the 3rd primary grade, and the second one, in the 5th grade. Their study continues in high school. School curricula have been devised in order to introduce the optional study of a third foreign language (French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish).

Communication competence in foreign languages represents, according to Law 1/2011, one of the eight categories of key skills determining a pupil’s training profile and on which the primary and middle education National Curriculum focuses.One of the tests the national baccalaureate exam consists of is the evaluation of the ability to communicate in an international language studied in high school. The result of the evaluation is expressed by the competence level corresponding to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages/CEFR. 

Graduates of departments with teaching in a bilingual regime in French, Italian or Spanish attend the national baccalaureate exam according to the stipulations of bilateral agreements that exist between Romania and the respective States. For example, an agreement concerning bilingual education has existed since 2006 between Romania and the French Republic. The two parties organise the certification for the elementary diploma in French/DELF in classes that are bilingual and intensive which aim to reach the B2 level of competence from the CEFR. The French Anna de Noailles high school in Bucharest was acknowledged by the French minister of National Education.

On the date when the Law 1/2011 entered into force, the State higher education institutions with teaching activities in the language of national minorities, having the statute of multicultural and multi-language universities, were the following: Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca (in Romanian, Hungarian and German); Medicine and Pharmacy University in Târgu Mureş and the University of Theatre Arts in Târgu Mureş (both in Romanian and Hungarian).






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