Romanian Government

Thursday, 09 February

Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă attended the “Accession to the OECD - Opportunities for the business environment in Romania” event organized by the Government of Romania in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Speech by Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă at the “Accession to the OECD - Opportunities for the business environment in Romania” event organized by the Government of Romania in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)


Dan Cărbunaru, Spokesperson for the Romanian Government:
Welcome to the event dedicated to Romania's accession to the OECD and the opportunities this brings for the business environment!
In this part of the world, it is very important to say and know on which side you assume to be.
Romania is on the side of the world where democratic values and market economy values are observed.
And as the EU and NATO’s force of attraction is strong, Romania’s force of attraction is also strong as the OECD opened its doors to capitalize on our development potential.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Leaders who know the way are needed to attain these important national goals, such as joining NATO, the EU, and the OECD.
And in such complicated times, the compass becomes essential for orientation.
Therefore, I give the floor to the man who knows how to use this compass, and wants and can use it to strengthen our ties with the values and benefits of the democratic world. Ladies and gentlemen, the Prime Minister of Romania, Mr. Nicolae Ciucă.
Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă:
Distinguished representatives of the European Commission,
Dear representatives,
Your Excellencies, members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Bucharest,
Ladies and gentlemen, members of the business environment in Romania,
Thank you for honoring our invitation to this event which we consider particularly important, one year after the OECD Secretary–General’s visit to Romania, when Romania’s accession process to this Organization kicked off.
The event is organized by the Government of Romania and I want to welcome the presence here of a distinguished and specialized audience. I also welcome the presence at this event of senior officials from the OECD Secretariat and I want to thank, in particular, Secretary General Mathias Cormann for the message he will deliver online as he could not attend in person this event.  
I would like to mention, at the beginning of my address, the fact that the current international context is an extremely complex one, whether we think about Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, the economic, energy, and food crises generated by it or the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which we are still feeling.
2022 was a year of challenges, with our reaction and resilience capacities being fully tested. We continued to strengthen, through our efforts, Romania's European and international profile. Deeply anchored in democratic values, Romania is determined to continue its modernization process.
I have come here to assure you that we have ambitious plans and consistent action in terms of domestic and foreign policy in the year ahead.
As you know, after a wait that lasted 18 years, last year Romania was invited to start the process of accession to the OECD. It is the most powerful economic cooperation organization currently existing at the global level, having under its umbrella states that represent over 70% of world trade and approximately 90% of the value of capital investments.
Romania's accession to the OECD has become a major foreign policy objective, a strategic country objective after the accession to the European Union and NATO, and the opening of accession discussions is a recognition of our development potential. At the same time, it represents an important vote of confidence granted to Romania, which we should capitalize on.
Following the start of the accession discussions, 2022 represented the crowning of a joint effort of Romanian diplomacy and the entire national institutional spectrum. Last December, we succeeded to complete the first stage of the accession process, that of drafting the Initial Memorandum, which I personally handed over in Paris.
As  I stated in the Interministerial – Committee, I underlined to all decision-making factors in the Romanian Government that it is the simplest stage to fulfill that we had on the Government’s table. As of now, it is the most complex stage, part of the technical process which needs to be clarified, and we will have to respond to the questionnaires for additional information and evaluation visits. These are the important stages that will finally lead to the accession decision.
Many times, in my discussions with government officials, civil society, and the business environment, I pointed out that the OECD does not man standards negotiation, but accession to OECD means standards fulfillment, assuming them as established at the level of the Organisation. We are talking here of an entire set of OECD legal instruments - 26 fields and over 230 legal instruments. Thus, the process involves an intense and sustained effort, which the Government and public authorities will only be able to achieve with the support of the entire society. Your constructive contribution, the contribution of the business sector, will be necessary and beneficial for many important areas.
The path to our common objective – accession to the Organization - will open a new chapter in the modernization process of the Romanian state, representing a clear opportunity for the significant transformation of the administration, institutions, and society as a whole. Each transformation along this path will bring real benefits to the business environment, companies, and entrepreneurs, whether Romanian or foreign.
I reiterate a very important aspect of this process, namely OECD standards’ assumption and fulfillment aligns very well with the reforms assumed through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. It is about the complementarity of the two effort lines so I could say that the accession process to OECD is somehow facilitated by the reforms assumed through NRRP, at least regarding the reforms segment.
The business environment represents an important vector in the modernization of Romania, and for this, we want an honest, solid, and open partnership with you as we did ever since taking office.
The OECD membership represents joining a club with well-defined rules and norms that ensure a high degree of transparency and predictability, indispensable elements for a dynamic and prosperous business environment.
At the OECD level, the business sector plays a key role, making a direct contribution to the standards analysis and revision, offering convergent perspectives to various industries on global issues with an impact on the economy and society.
OECD is a leader in high standards worldwide, greatly due to the collaboration with the Business and Industry Advisory Committee of the OECD(BIAC). Such a model of good practices is of interest to Romania also, especially since the Romanian business sector has already made its voice heard in this structure.
The OECD member status equally represents a strong indicator of trust for internal and international investors, a catalyst involving the stimulation of direct investments, strengthening the international markets’ trust in internal economic stability. As a member state, Romania will use access to know-how and exchanges of good practices with other OECD states, which will help us formulate public policies favorable to the business environment.
Regarding the current economic situation in Romania, as of 2022, Romania’s GDP grew by almost 50 billion euros compared to the previous year, 4.9 percent, representing a significant increase, equivalent to our country’s GDP 20 years ago. We want to continue consistently this dynamic to which you fully contributed while the OECD member state status will make a significant contribution in this respect.  I want to reassure you of our full determination to have a solid and consistent path to attain this goal.
Returning to the OECD accession benefits for companies in Romania, they will also be translated into access to OECD specialists’ expertise in areas such as new digital technologies, green transition, or promotion of responsible business behavior. Regarding digital transformation, we count on OECD's support within the accession process and later as a full-fledged member. These efforts will come to complete the measures that the Government already takes in this field, the SMEs digitalization program being an example in this respect.
We are aware of the fact that to ensure Romania’s sustainable development in the future, we need a solid economy, based on knowledge and innovation. The current economic model that helped our country meet its development objectives so far, will be turned into a new one, focusing on high-value-added activities, through the adoption of innovative technologies and production processes.
Here I want to make a parenthesis and underline the fact that, every time we met with the business environment from Romania and abroad, we focused on the identification of the economic potential of our country and doing in such a way as to develop processing in Romania. Romania must not only be a supplier of raw materials. Romania must have its processing capacities. Romania must grow those companies that can enter the international economy, sit at the table of those who matter, with a consolidated and supported capital; and please see the potential our country has. We have resources, we have a very well-trained workforce and we have people who are already performing globally in certain fields. I would like to emphasize only two or three areas: the energy field. Romania has a special energy potential and we can, indeed, become guarantors of energy security and energy suppliers. Romania has an agricultural production capacity that currently is not working at the highest level of efficiency - maybe it will take us some time to get there - but we aim to permanently increase the efficiency of agricultural production so that we can determine investors not only to import raw material from our agricultural production but to come and process it. It is the added value that will help us balance the trade deficit balance. It is hard to accept that our country has a trade deficit in food products, for example.
And the third area I want to refer to - I'm sure you know it very well - is the IT&C area. We already have companies that are recognized at the European level, and the world level. We have a part of specific creativity in this field, it is a potential that, at the current stage of development in this field and, of course, its horizontal implications give us the opportunity, at least in these three fields, to aim to achieve performance. Once we've managed to make these areas operational, I'm sure we can then think about the other areas as well.
In conclusion, I would like to express my hope that, in today's discussions, and debates, and I attended all panels of today's event, you will have an exchange of ideas, an exchange of messages that will contribute to the consolidation and coherence of our country's accession process to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Thank you and I wish you success!
Dan Cărbunaru, Spokesperson for the Romanian Government: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, Nicolae Ciucă! Given the importance of the event, but also the fact that Mr. Secretary General Mathias Cormann could not be with us today, but was kind enough to still convey his message for this event, which, I remind you, is intended to put the OECD projection in the Romanian context, with the participation of the Government of Romania and the business environment. I kindly ask my colleagues to live stream the message that the Secretary General of the OECD, Mathias Cormann, is sending you now.




Message from OECD Secretary-General, Mr. Mathias Cormann  at the “Accession to the OECD - Opportunities for the business environment in Romania” event organized by the Government of Romania in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)


Dear Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă,
Distinguished guests,
Thank you for the opportunity to join you today to talk about Romania’s path toward OECD membership. This process will build on Romania’s impressive economic performance over the past 20 years in closing the gap between Romania’s GDP per capita and the OECD average by half, from about 70 percent to around 35 percent. Strong foreign investment, important progress on judicial reforms, and prudent monetary policy have all contributed to this success so far. Indeed, much has already been achieved but there is more that can be done, and we are confident that there is more that will be done to ensure Romania reaches its full potential, generating even more opportunities for the people of Romania and businesses right across Romania.
The OECD 2022 economic survey of Romania finds that further reforms can help unleash even more growth and help ensure businesses and citizens have the opportunity to fully participate in and benefit from that further growth and development.
Romania’s OECD accession journey, we are convinced, will help drive some of these growth-enhancing reforms. During Prime Minister Ciucă’s visit to the OECD last December, Romania submitted its Initial Memorandum which kicked off the technical part of the accession process. This process will involve 26 OECD committees, made up of expert policymakers from each of the 38 OECD member countries, and the European Union conducting comprehensive technical reviews.
Indeed, those committees will each undertake a 360-degree in-depth assessment of Romania’s legislation, policies, and practices against OECD legal instruments and OECD best policies and practices. OECD standards and instruments encompass almost every area of government policy, from agricultural policy to education and skills, governance, innovation, and taxation, and I tried to name but a few.
For the business community gathered here today, this process will have direct and concrete benefits, supporting Romania’s reform agenda and fostering fair, efficient, open, and competitive markets. It will help ensure that Romania has an open and attractive investment climate to further fuel growth. It will help make further progress in the fight against corruption and improve the efficiency and integrity of state-owned companies. It will promote more competition and competitive neutrality by encouraging the removal of regulations that unnecessarily hold back innovative businesses and by helping to ensure a more level –playing field. It will ensure the right policies are implied to encourage sustainable and resilient business practices including in global supply chains of which Romania is becoming an increasingly important part. It will help the government scale up investment and sustainable infrastructure laying the foundations for future growth. The benefits are not one–sided. OECD members and the OECD as a whole have a great deal to gain from stronger policy cooperation and even more input from Romania.
The decision of the OECD Council to open accession discussions with Romania and five other countries: Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Peru was a historic step for the Organization. In today’s very challenging economic and geopolitical environment, stronger cooperation among like-minded countries is essential. One of the best ways to foster this cooperation is through the adoption of our shared standards and good practices. Exactly what the accession process aims to achieve for and with Romania. Romania’s accession journey will also benefit our organization more broadly by bringing its unique perspective and experience to our work and we very much look forward to that. In closing, we are at the beginning of an ambitious process that will deliver tangible benefits for businesses and indeed for all Romanians. It is a whole society’s process, and so it will benefit greatly from your active involvement and support. Business at OECD or BIAC will be an important conduit for your feedback which the OECD Deputy Secretary General will expand on, during the panel discussion. Thank you for your interest in the OECD and thank you for your willingness to engage with us, in this positive, transformative journey. I look forward to the opportunity to catch up with you in Bucharest and around Romania in the months and years to come. Thank you.




Final remarks by Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă at the OECD Forum


Ladies and gentlemen,

Distinguished guests,


To draw conclusions, I think, would be too much. After two hours and a half, I do not think we are authorized to have already conclusions. I was glad to underline how pleasant was this event where opinions and messages were presented.

I want to thank the OECD Secretary-General for his virtual message, the Deputy Secretary–General, the OECD staff, all panelists who took the time to come before us today, and I appreciated this framework, where questions were asked, answers were formulated, and I was thinking how good it would be if this framework could also exist after we finish the activity because I am certain that the questions have not been exhausted, the solutions have not been tried to be formulated right now, right here, because if it were that simple, things would be resolved very quickly.

I like to think that after this activity, with government support or not necessarily under the government umbrella, you will continue to have these discussions, you will continue to ask questions and find answers, which then, at the government level, we will take action to materialize them. This matters the most in my opinion. I emphasize once again, I do it every time I have the opportunity that there is a lot of talking but when it comes to materializing it, enthusiasm is diluted, and unfortunately, we don't find that short way from words to deeds. Maybe God will give us the necessary wisdom so that we can see how to put into practice all the solutions we discuss, debate, and are proud of, either at the individual level or at the institutional level.

Of course, we had the opportunity to learn from the experience of Israel, the Baltic countries, and all the big economies and we will continue to have, it is important to learn from those who have already achieved performance during this journey. I think it is important to learn to be ourselves and this commitment, from the institutional level to the citizen level, to be able to travel as quickly and in the best possible way, this journey of accession to the OECD, to produce those effects, those consequences that we are all waiting for: the reforms and modernization of the Romanian state which, practically, will be found in the growth of the Romanian capital and the well-being and prosperity of the citizens of Romania. I think this is what the journey to the OECD and the final destination, membership in the OECD, is all about.

I think it is very important to attain this desideratum of corporate governance. We all need to be aware that corporate governance without performing management, without professionals, people active in business or with business performance, it is not enough to move the same people from one office to another, you cannot win a game without changing anything in the way of approaching it.

Regarding education and innovation – I will answer here the question about the workforce – there is a preoccupation at the level of the Government, Ministry of Education, and very much, at the level of local authorities for the development of dual vocational training centers, not only in pre-university education and also university education.

I encountered all these aspects when, during my visits, I found a very good relationship at the level of workforce training for certain professions and specializations, as well as between universities and large companies that need engineers, a very well-trained workforce in terms of new technologies implementation where a high level of training is required as well as higher education. All these issues are on the list of priorities of local authorities, the Ministry of Education, the Government, and particularly, on the list of preoccupations of the business sector.

Where comes this request for all of these from? From you, the businesspeople.

I would like it to be much easier to list Romanian companies on the Stock Exchange.

I think we need to discuss more on this issue, to find solutions, to see how to determine the Romanian entrepreneurs understand the need to grow capital, and the volume of economic activities, that would make a listing on the stock exchange attractive and increase the investors’ interest in such companies.  There are a lot of elements of aid and support through NRRP for SMEs, but there is preoccupation at the level of the Government to ensure similar conditions to Romanian investors with those offered to foreign investors. I am sure that foreign investors appreciate this matter, taking into account the fact that we are talking about similar treatment. Minister Câciu and Minister Spătaru are here too, I discussed with them how we can foster the development of the business environment in Romania and help the Romanian companies.

I think that, at the OECD level, we will have the doors open for consultations, assistance, and experience and I am sure that your advice will be of great help to correct any eventual mistakes. I particularly thank all those who contributed to completing the stages so far. I want to particularly thank Ambassador Luca Niculescu, directly involved in this process, he is the national coordinator of this process, and professor Adrian Ciocănea, Prime Minister’s Chancellery, for their cooperation along the coordination process of the activity at the institutional level.

Thank you.