Prefect (Romania)
A prefect in Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 represents the Government
Government of Romania
The Government of Romania forms one half of the country's executive branch . It is headed by the Prime-Minister, and consists of the Ministries, various subordinated institutions and agencies, and the 42 Prefectures...

 in each of the country's 41 counties
Counties of Romania
The 41 judeţe and the municipality of Bucharest comprise the official administrative divisions of Romania. They also represent the European Union' s NUTS-3 geocode statistical subdivision scheme of Romania.-Overview:...

, as well as the Municipality of Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....



The main attributes of prefects are defined at Article 123 of the Constitution of Romania
Constitution of Romania
The 1991 Constitution of Romania, adopted on 21 November 1991, voted in the referendum of 8 December 1991 and introduced on the same day, is the current fundamental law that establishes the structure of the government of Romania, the rights and obligations of the country's citizens, and its mode...

The Government names one prefect in each county and in the Municipality of Bucharest. The prefect is the representative of the Government at the local level and heads the devolved public services of the ministries and of the other organs of the central public administration in the administrative-territorial units. The prefect's attributes are defined through organic law. Between prefects, on the one hand, and local councils and town halls, as well as county councils and their presidents, on the other hand, no subordinate relations exist. The prefect may challenge, before an administrative court, an act of the county council, or a local council or of a mayor, in the event he considers the act illegal. The act thus challenged is suspended de jure.

Section 4 of this article was added in 2003; the remainder dates to 1991. The prefect's role is further defined by a 2004 law, modified by decrees in 2004 and 2005, and by a law in 2006. Among the roles of the office is to ensure that the Constitution and laws are followed; to help fulfil the Government's programme; to help maintain social peace; to cooperate with local authorities in order to set development priorities; to verify the legality of acts done by the county or local councils and mayors; to ensure emergency preparedness; to promote integration into the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

; to decide with which similar institutions in Romania or abroad to cooperate; to ensure that national minorities
Minorities of Romania
Officially, 10.5% of Romania's population is represented by minorities . The principal minorities in Romania are Hungarians and Roma people, with a declining German population and smaller numbers of Poles in Bucovina...

 are able to communicate with Government institutions in localities where minorities make up over 20% of the population. The principles that are supposed to guide the prefect are legality, impartiality and objectivity; transparency and free access to public information; efficiency; responsibility; professionalism; and a citizen-oriented attitude.

Each prefect leads a prefectural college; this is a consultative body meant to assist in coordinating the activities of devolved public services. In particular, it is meant to analyse the activity of devolved services and propose measures to improve it; to identify where multiple services can cooperate; to decide on measures necessary to implement policies adopted at the national level; to organise joint activities of public services in order to deal with special situations; and to analyse what measures should be taken for there to be a unified system of managing information or material, financial or human resources.

Each prefecture also has a chancellery, composed of a director, an adviser to the prefect, an adviser on Roma
Roma minority in Romania
The Roma constitute one of the major minorities in Romania. According to the 2002 census, they number 535,140 people or 2.5% of the total population, being the second-largest ethnic minority in Romania after Hungarians...

 issues, and a chief of cabinet. The chancellery ensures the prefect's work runs smoothly; analyzes social and economic data; organizes meetings between the prefect and civil society groups, unions, management, and political parties; drafts press releases; organizes informational meetings and press conferences, and informs the public about the prefect's activities; maintains the prefecture's website; and drafts quarterly progress reports on the Government's Roma strategy. The Roma adviser, introduced by a 2001 decree, creates partnerships leading to programmes for improving Romas' situation; increases the administrative capacity of institutions charged with implementing the Roma strategy; improves Romas' access to housing, water, electricity, and heating; ensures access to medical care; helps include Roma in the labour force; and works to provide access to preschools and elementary schools, as well as to high schools and universities.

Prefects and sub-prefects hold regular public audiences. Prefectures certify foreign documents in accordance with the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents; issue and renew driver's licenses
Driving licence in Romania
In Romania the driving licence is a governmental right given to those who request a licence for any of the categories they desire. It is required for every type of motorized vehicle. The minimum age to obtain a driving licence is 18 years...

 and register motor vehicles; issue ordinary passports
Romanian passport
The Romanian Passport gives its bearer the right to exit and enter the country through any of the border passing points, opened to the international traveler traffic. Outside Romania, the passport gives the bearer the right to assistance and protection provided by the diplomatic missions and...

; verify the legality of documents; help conduct elections and referendums; assist in the process of restoring property seized under the Communist regime
Communist Romania
Communist Romania was the period in Romanian history when that country was a Soviet-aligned communist state in the Eastern Bloc, with the dominant role of Romanian Communist Party enshrined in its successive constitutions...

; and, through a series of committees, perform various other duties. Prefectures may have other offices besides those in the county seat, responsible for surrounding areas: for instance, the Caraş-Severin County
Caras-Severin County
Caraș-Severin is a county of Romania, in the historical region of Banat and few villages in Transylvania, with the county seat at Reșița.-Demographics:The county is part of the Danube-Kris-Mureș-Tisza euroregion....

 Prefecture, aside from its headquarters in Reşiţa
' is a city in western Romania and the capital of Caraş-Severin County, in the Banat region. Its 2004 population was 83,985.- Etymology :The name of Reşiţa, might comes from the Latin recitia, meaning "cold spring", as the great historian Nicolae Iorga once suggested, presuming that the Romans...

, has offices in Caransebeş
Caransebeş is a city in Caraş-Severin County, part of the Banat region in southwestern Romania. It is located at the confluence of the river Timiş with the river Sebeş, the latter coming from the Ţarcu Mountains. To the west, it is in direct contact with the Banat hills...

 and Oraviţa
Oravița is a town in southwestern Romania, in Caraș-Severin County, with a population of 15,524 in 2000. Its theatre is a fully functional scaled down version of the Burgtheater in Vienna...

, while the Neamţ County
Neamt County
Neamț is a county of Romania, in the historic region of Moldavia, with the county seat at Piatra Neamț. It has three communes, Bicaz-Chei, Bicazu Ardelean and Dămuc in Transylvania.-Demographics:...

 Prefecture in Piatra Neamţ
Piatra Neamt
Piatra Neamț , , ; is the capital city of Neamţ County, in the historical region of Moldavia, eastern Romania. Because of its privileged location in the Eastern Carpathian mountains, it is considered one of the most picturesque cities in Romania...

 has offices in Roman
Roman, Romania
Roman is a mid-sized city, having the title of municipality, located in the central part of Moldavia, a traditional region of Romania. It is located 46 km east of Piatra Neamţ, in the Neamţ County at the confluence of Siret and Moldova rivers....

 and Târgu Neamţ
Târgu Neamt
Târgu Neamţ is a town in Neamţ County, Romania, on the Neamţ River. It had, , a population of 20,496. Three villages are administered by the town: Blebea, Humuleşti and Humuleştii Noi.- History :...



The office traces its origin to the ispravnic
An ispravnic was, in the Danubian principalities, the title owned by a clerk or a boyar in charge of law enforcement in a certain county. Initially, during the middle ages, ispravnics were people who used to carry out the voivod's commands. Later on, ispravnics became local administrators and were...

who held office in the Danubian Principalities
Danubian Principalities
Danubian Principalities was a conventional name given to the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, which emerged in the early 14th century. The term was coined in the Habsburg Monarchy after the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca in order to designate an area on the lower Danube with a common...

 before these united in 1859. Two laws of 1864 introduced the office of prefect into the new Romanian state, modelled on the French equivalent. Another law was enacted in 1872, while an 1883 law reduced the prefect's role to executing Government decisions. The office was strengthened by law in 1892; it was provided at "at the head of each county there is a prefect...named by royal decree, upon the recommendation of the Minister of the Interior...he represents the executive power in the entire district placed under his administration". The 1925 law for administrative unity regarded the prefect as the representative of the central authorities, with power to control local officials. Named by royal decree following a recommendation of the Interior Minister, the prefect, aside from fulfiling general conditions for civil servants, had to be at least thirty years of age and to have completed a state-recognised university. Prefects already in office for at least a year were exempt.

A 1929 law was the first to distinguish between appointed and elected local authorities. The prefect was no longer the head of the county administration, but the "representative of the government", charged with exercising "control and supervision over all local authorities". The central authorities named him; he represented executive power. The law created a new institution, the county administrative commission, and the prefect was its president. In 1936, a law was adopted enhancing the prefect's powers: he was now head of the county administration, supervising all cultural institutions and public services. He was also chief of police
Romanian Police
The Romanian Police is the national police force and main civil law enforcement agency in Romania. It is subordinated to the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform.-Duties:The Romanian Police are responsible for:...

 and of the gendarmerie
Jandarmeria Româna
Jandarmeria Română is the military branch of the two Romanian police forces .The gendarmerie is subordinated to the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform and does not have responsibility for policing the Romanian Armed Forces...

. In 1938, following the imposition of a royal dictatorship by King Carol II
Carol II of Romania
Carol II reigned as King of Romania from 8 June 1930 until 6 September 1940. Eldest son of Ferdinand, King of Romania, and his wife, Queen Marie, a daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second eldest son of Queen Victoria...

, the counties' administrative autonomy was abolished in favour of the larger ţinuturi. The prefect, named by royal decree, became a career bureaucrat, able to name mayors of rural and non-resident urban communes and to designate ex officio members of the town councils.

From 1940 to 1944, during the Ion Antonescu
Ion Antonescu
Ion Victor Antonescu was a Romanian soldier, authoritarian politician and convicted war criminal. The Prime Minister and Conducător during most of World War II, he presided over two successive wartime dictatorships...

 dictatorship and based on a decree-law of September 1940, the prefect was restored as a public functionary, with the counties again having their own juridical personality, income and budget. The prefect's role as representative of the Government was also brought back. In 1949, early in the Communist regime
Communist Romania
Communist Romania was the period in Romanian history when that country was a Soviet-aligned communist state in the Eastern Bloc, with the dominant role of Romanian Communist Party enshrined in its successive constitutions...

, the prefecture was transformed into a "provisional committee". The following September, when the counties were abolished, the office of prefect was done away with.

Following the Romanian Revolution of 1989
Romanian Revolution of 1989
The Romanian Revolution of 1989 was a series of riots and clashes in December 1989. These were part of the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in several Warsaw Pact countries...

, a 1990 law brought back the prefecture as an "organ of state administration with general competences", composed of one prefect, two sub-prefects, one secretary and seven members. The law specified how the institution should be organised as well as its attributes. The office—one that represented the Government locally and headed devolved public services of ministries and other agencies—was enshrined in the constitution passed by referendum in December 1991, as well as by a law that year and in 2001. Further legislative reform began with the 2004 Law on the Prefect. This de-politicised the office of prefect and sub-prefect, making them high public functionaries who occupy their positions through competitive selection. It also changed the office of general secretary ("director-general" from 1991 to 1997) into that of sub-prefect, so that now each prefect is assisted by two sub-prefects.

External links

Links to prefectures' sites, at the Romanian Government site
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