Last updated in June 2018
Political relations between Germany and Romania have traditionally been close and friendly, and are founded on the German-Romanian Treaty on Friendly Relations and Partnership in Europe of 1992. Germany provided extensive assistance to help Romania prepare for accession to the European Union and to promote its integration within the EU. The two countries also work together in NATO, the United Nations, the OSCE and the Council of Europe as well as in regional EU initiatives such as the Danube Region Strategy and the Eastern Partnership.
There are regular high-level two-way visits between Germany and Romania. The Romanian President Klaus Johannis visited Berlin on 6 February 2015, meeting with Federal President Joachim Gauck, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert. Federal President Gauck paid a state visit to Romania in June 2016, meeting with President Johannis and Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, among others. President Johannis most recently visited Germany in June 2017, when he was received in Berlin by Federal Chancellor Merkel and Federal President Steinmeier.
In recent years, numerous visits to both countries have also been made by regional representatives.
Trade relations between Germany and Romania are continuing to develop in a very positive direction. Germany is Romania’s most important trading partner and the second largest foreign direct investor in the country, with investments totalling 9.25 billion euros in 2016. In Romania there are officially 22,243 companies with German-owned share capital, which was worth 4.65 billion euros as of the end of January 2017. Adjusted figures, however, show that only roughly 7400 of these companies are actually active in the Romanian market. In addition, a number of German companies make their investments via subsidiaries in other EU countries, which means that these do not appear in Romanian statistics as German investments. In 2017, trade between Germany and Romania increased 12 percent over the previous year to 29.64 billion euros, with Romanian exports to Germany totalling 14.3 billion euros and Romanian imports from Germany valued at 15.1 billion euros.
German business activities in Romania are wide-ranging, with German companies active in almost every sector in the country. German investment in Romania focuses on the automotive supply sector, but service companies and large retail chains with German capital also make a substantial contribution to the country’s GDP.
The German-Romanian Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Bucharest opened on 5 September 2002 and has since grown to approximately 600 members. It promotes bilateral economic relations and represents all major German trade fair companies in Romania. According to the chamber’s estimates, its member companies alone employ approximately 300,000 people in Romania.
In addition, German business clubs in Bucharest, Sibiu, Brașov, Timişoara, Arad, Cluj-Napoca, Satu Mare, Bacău and Tîrgu Mureş provide representatives of the German private sector in Romania with forums to discuss common issues.
Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI) opened a correspondent’s office in Romania in 2008.
The 2011 census put the German minority in Romania at just under 37,000, whereas the actual number is probably around 45,000. The German minority is organised in the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (FDGR), a political party based in Sibiu. In March 2015, it celebrated its 25th anniversary with a ceremony attended by Romania’s President Johannis and Frank Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s Foreign Minister at the time. The FDGR’s chairman is Dr Paul-Jürgen Porr. Following the local elections in June 2016, the German minority still retains a large number of seats in the local and district councils in Satu Mare and Transylvania. An under-secretary responsible for the German minority’s affairs in the Department for Interethnic Relations also comes from the minority’s ranks. In December 2016, Ovidiu Gant was re-elected to the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, where he has represented the German minority since 2004.
Though still widely spoken by the minority population, German is increasingly at risk as a result of the chronic underfunding of Romania’s education system and the consequent lack of German native-language instruction. In 2017, the German Government spent approximately 5.2 million euros on measures to support the German minority. Additional funding worth approximately 1.9 million euros was provided by the Romanian Government.
Bilateral cultural relations are formally based on the Agreement concerning the Reciprocal Establishment and Activities of Cultural and Information Centres of 1990, the Treaty on Friendly Relations and Partnership in Europe of 1992, the Agreement on Cultural Cooperation of 1995 and the Agreement on School Cooperation of 1996. Cultural relations focus on research and higher education as well as on promoting the German language.
Romanians feel a close affinity with German culture. Thanks to the German minority, there is a common tradition that keeps interest in the German language and culture alive in Romania.
The Goethe-Institut (GI), the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA, with more than 30 seconded teachers) and Germany’s political foundations all play an active role in Romania. The work of the GI is complemented by the activities of German cultural centres in Iaşi, Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, Brașov and Timișoara. There are a constantly growing number of school and university partnerships. In 1999, Romania founded the Institutul Cultural Român “Titu Maiorescu” in Berlin, which showcases Romanian culture through exhibitions, concerts and lectures.