The Constitution of Romania states in Article 13 that the official language is Romanian.
Article 6 para. 1 – Right to identity, “[…] recognizes and guarantees the right of persons belonging to national minorities to the preservation, development and expression of their ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity”.
Paragraph 2 of the same article, states that “the protection measures taken by the Romanian State for the preservation, development and expression of identity of the persons belonging to national minorities shall conform to the principles of equality and non-discrimination in relation to the other Romanian citizens”.
There are also a number of normative acts (laws and Government Decisions) pertaining to the use of Romanian language and of the languages of national minorities in relation to public authorities and in the educational system.
Law No. 500/2004 for the use of the Romanian language in public places, relations and institutions, states that any text of public interest written or spoken in a foreign language must be accompanied by its translation or adaption into Romanian language. Broadcasts transmitted in other languages by Romanian broadcasters or under Romanian audiovisual licenses must be subtitled in Romanian or benefit from a simultaneous translation.
In addition, Article 17 para. d) of the Audiovisual Law No. 504/2002, amended and modified, entitles the National Audiovisual Council to “issue, with a view to the application of the provisions from this Law, regulatory normative decisions […] in regard to […] the monitoring of the correct expression in Romanian language and in the languages of national minorities”. It also grants minorities the right to benefit from free broadcasting of programmes in their languages if the minority in question exceeds 20% of the total population in a given administrative unit.
Law No. 215/2001 on local public administration, in its Article 19 states that local public authorities, their subordinated public institutions as well as public services must ensure the use of a minority language in their relations with members of the respective minority in all cases where that minority population exceeds 20% of total population in a given administrative unit.
National Education Law No. 1/2011 states in Article 10 that learning the Romanian language is mandatory and that educational services shall be provided in the languages of the national minorities, too. Articles 45 and following recognize the right of persons belonging to national minorities to study and to be educated in their mother tongue at all levels, types and forms of pre-university education. Specific provisions concerning higher education in the languages of national minorities are to be found in Articles 135 and following of the Law.
Special obligations are imposed upon public services broadcasters through Law No. 41/1994 on the organisation and operation of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Corporation and Romanian Television Corporation, republished, which states, inter alia:
- In Article 15: public service broadcasters have, as one of their main activities, the carrying out of broadcasting programmes in Romanian, in the languages of the national minorities as well as in other languages for information, cultural, educational and entertainment purposes.
- In Article 35: the board of territorial studios which broadcast programmes in the languages of the national minorities should have members representing the producers of those programmes.
There are several other relevant laws that offer a more detailed perspective on the issue of minority languages:
- Law No 20 /2019 establishes the Day of the Romani Language on June 16
- Law No 214/2018 establishes the Day of the Macedonian language on December 8
- Law No. 213/2018 establishes the Day of the Ukrainian Language on November 9
- Law No. 253/2017 establishes the Day of the Yiddish Language and Theatre on December 13
- Law No. 247/2017 establishes the Day of National Minorities in Romania on December 18, as a national day
- Law No. 100.2015 establishes the Day of the Bulgarian Language on May 24
- Law No. 279/2015 establishes the Day of the Hungarian Language on November 13
- Law No. 130/2014 establishes the Day of the Czech Language on September 28
- Law No. 97/2009 on the foundation of the Cultural Institute of Tatars “Sebat Husein” in Constanta
- Law No. 366/2007 on the foundation of the Prize “Mehmet Niyazi” in order to promote Tatar literature, arts and culture in Romania
Although there is no specific piece of legislation concerning the mandatory use of national minority languages in the cultural sector, secondary legislation pertaining to the organisation and functioning of performing arts institutions, institutes, theatres and operas which have either bilingual programmes or operate solely in the language of a national minority (German, Hungarian and Yiddish).