Romania is highly vulnerable to catastrophic natural disasters. Firstly, it is situated in a seismically active region and has a history of devastating and deadly earthquakes – the most affecting happened in Vrancea in 1977. Furthermore, the Bucharest area has experienced a number of tremors of varying intensities, and the probability that a severe and damaging earthquake will occur is high. However, Romania is also at risk by other natural and technological hazards. More specifically, the floods in 2010 revealing weaknesses of the civil protection system triggered some process of improving. Of the former group, floods, drought and heat/cold waves have been experienced frequently, while the most affecting example of a man-made disaster has been the accident at the Baia Mare gold processing plant, where, in 2000, 100 000 cubic meters of toxic waste water spilled out and flooded into the Danube River, affecting Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Serbia and Bulgaria.
The Romanian crisis management concept views civil protection as a public policy issue, and as a civil operation during which the military could provide support with both assets and people. Crisis management does not rely on a centralised structure, but is a result of the interaction of parallel architectures. The latter involve bodies and agencies dealing with particular risks, while the crisis management system-of-systems employs an all-hazard approach. The most significant developments within the crisis management domain took place in 2004, as well as after the 2007 accession to the European Union.
The National Emergency Management System (NEMS) is a nationally owned mechanism of multiple stakeholders, which provides coordination and response in case of emergencies, and serves as an advocate for prevention and disaster risk reduction at different levels. It is organised at four levels (national/governmental, ministerial, county and local), with a particular coordination and communication role for the national-level authorities. The system is led by the Prime Minister, supported by the National Committee for Emergency Situations and having the Minister of Administration and Interior as a chief executive. The main executive administrative body is the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (GIES), which coordinates plans and operational activities in cases of natural and man-made emergency situations. Specific plans are prepared at all administrative levels. Funding is provided through the state and local budgets, though they are used mostly for post-disaster rehabilitation and less for preventive measures.
The role of the private sector in the civil security system is limited, while NGOs cooperate closely with the state institutions, mostly in the fields of education and training. The number of organised volunteers is about 130 000. Regulations require that everyone be prepared to take care of himself in the immediate aftermath of major disasters. Every family and company should develop its own emergency plan, stock its own emergency survival kit, and ensure that each family member or company employee is familiarised with emergency procedures and can take precautions to protect their personal safety. However, in general, the society is not well organised at a community level and expectations that disaster management is a state responsibility are widely spread.
After Romania’s EU accession in 2007, the country improved its cooperation with international actors and increased its efforts to make the crisis management system coherent with international (particularly the EU) context. Romania has increased its engagement in the work of committees and working groups dealing with the EU’s civil protection. Romania has activated the EU’s Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) several times and contributed to several MIC-coordinated interventions providing support to Greece, Georgia, Hungary, Moldova and Turkey. Bilateral agreements or protocols are signed with some of the Romania’s neighbours (Bulgaria, Hungary, and Moldova), as well with other European (Czech, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Turkey) and non-European countries (Azerbaijan and the USA –with FEMA and USTDA).
The Romanian capacity for emergency response includes several niche capabilities: pyrotechnical capabilities for drainage, controlled breaches, and detonation, for water purification and transportation and for marine de-pollution. Military cargo aircraft are also available in cases of emergencies at home and abroad (C-27J Spartan – 6, C-130 Hercules – 3, and An-26 Curl – 4).