Romania

1. Euroscepticism and European Parliament elections

Domestic polarisation and Europe’s marginalisation

Rel­e­vant debates on Euro­pean issues were extreme­ly rare main­ly due to high­ly polar­ized polit­i­cal­ly con­trolled media out­lets in Roma­nia. The Euro­pean elec­tions cam­paign was basi­cal­ly an exer­cise and a con­tin­u­a­tion of the more than one-year-long dis­pute between the left­ist Prime Min­is­ter- Pres­i­dent of a par­ty with senior mem­bers under inves­ti­ga­tion for cor­rup­tion — and the Roman­ian Pres­i­dent (cen­tre-right) who has made the inde­pen­dence of the judi­cia­ry and the fight against cor­rup­tion the main themes of his last term.

The absence of euroscepticism

There have been no rel­e­vant polit­i­cal forces of the extreme right or left com­pet­ing in the Euro­pean elec­tions in Roma­nia. More­over, there has been no Euroscep­tic back­lash in Roma­nia.

Victory for centre-left and the fragmented right

The PSD-UNPR-PC alliance of the Social Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (PSD), the Nation­al Union for Roma­ni­a’s Progress (UNPR) and the Con­ser­v­a­tive Par­ty (PC) won 16 out of 32 seats (37.3 per­cent of votes) in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.

The over­all turnout of Roman­ian vot­ers at the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions was 32.16 per­cent while at the pre­vi­ous elec­tions in 2009 it had been 27.21 per­cent.

With the mass media finan­cial­ly depen­dent on pol­i­tics and after mas­sive pop­u­lar dis­con­tent about aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures pro­mot­ed by pre­vi­ous cen­tre-right gov­ern­ments, the Social Democ­rats enjoyed wide­spread pub­lic sup­port, two years after com­ing to pow­er. Their score must be inter­pret­ed against the back­drop of a heav­i­ly frag­ment­ed cen­tre-right, which par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions with no less than five small fac­tions.

2. The EU’s Neighbourhood

Ukrainian sovereignty and insecurity in the Black Sea Region

Roma­nia, as a NATO and EU mem­ber state, has unequiv­o­cal­ly sup­port­ed the sanc­tions imposed by the Euro­pean Union and US with respect to Russia’s actions under­min­ing or threat­en­ing Ukraine’s ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty, sov­er­eign­ty and inde­pen­dence.

The Min­istry of For­eign Affairs ful­ly sup­ports the NATO Sec­re­tary General’s request regard­ing an end to the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion’s sup­ply of com­bat equip­ment to sep­a­ratists.

More­over, the sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine and the region­al ‘offen­sive­ness’ of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion have forced the Roman­ian Intel­li­gence Ser­vice (SRI) to engage in sen­si­tive tasks such as gath­er­ing infor­ma­tion on these devel­op­ments as well as “pre­vent­ing any inter­nal effects in terms of nation­al secu­ri­ty for Roma­nia, espe­cial­ly in the sen­si­tive area of intel­li­gence”, said George Maior, accord­ing to the Press.

Experts and diplo­mats agree that the “fed­er­al­iza­tion of Ukraine would mean that Roma­nia would, once more, have a com­mon bor­der with Rus­sia, through the mil­i­tary region of Odessa” (Toma). There­fore, regard­less of the future ori­en­ta­tion of those in pow­er in Kiev, Roma­nia needs to keep all com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels for a func­tion­ing rela­tion­ship with Moscow open.

Towards an ambitious post-Vilnius Eastern Partnership

Roma­nia is the main advo­cate of the pro-Euro­pean ori­en­ta­tion of Moldova’s efforts. It con­tributes finan­cial assis­tance and shares its exper­tise in order to reach a suc­cess­ful con­clu­sion of nego­ti­a­tions on the sign­ing of an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment and a Deep and Com­pre­hen­sive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between the EU and Moldo­va. With the begin­ning of the Russ­ian aggres­sion in Ukraine and the annex­a­tion of Crimea, Roma­nia sup­port­ed advanc­ing and speed­ing up the process of sign­ing a DCFTA with Moldo­va in the frame­work of the Euro­pean Coun­cil.

As regards the East­ern Part­ner­ship, Roma­nia appre­ci­ates that a broad­er con­sen­sus is nec­es­sary among the EU-28 for re-launch­ing and reform­ing the East­ern dimen­sion of the EU’s Neigh­bour­hood Pol­i­cy. How­ev­er, Roma­nia must be proac­tive and sub­stan­tial­ly con­tribute to an ambi­tious post-Vil­nius East­ern Part­ner­ship togeth­er with Poland.

Stronger European and bilateral ties with Turkey

The Roman­ian Min­istry for For­eign Affairs re-con­firmed last year its sup­port for Turkey’s EU bid, encour­ag­ing the efforts to speed up nego­ti­a­tions on acces­sion chap­ters and for a suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the EU-Turkey nego­ti­a­tion process. In March 2013, Bucharest and Ankara signed the action plan for the Roma­nia-Turkey Strate­gic Part­ner­ship, both sides analysing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of coop­er­a­tion under region­al for­mats fol­low­ing the recent devel­op­ments in the EU’s East­ern Neigh­bour­hood, Mid­dle East and West­ern Balka­ns. Dur­ing the last year, high lev­el offi­cials of Turkey and Roma­nia shared the inter­est in run­ning new lines between Con­stan­ta and Istan­bul in the area of mar­itime trans­porta­tion, and in inten­si­fy­ing the coop­er­a­tion in rela­tion to the Nabuc­co pipeline project.

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3. Power relations in the EU

Germany – a respected guardian of fundamental values

Ger­many is an EU Mem­ber State to which Roma­nia relates with great respect, both in terms of the role it plays in the EU-28 as well as its posi­tion as main con­trib­u­tor to the EU bud­get (Roma­nia is one of the biggest ben­e­fi­cia­ries of EU region­al pol­i­cy and cohe­sion funds). Ger­many was one of the most vocal Euro­pean part­ners point­ing out, both bilat­er­al­ly and with­in the EU, Bucharest’s seri­ous and severe short­falls regard­ing the respect of fun­da­men­tal val­ues dur­ing the recent polit­i­cal cri­sis in 2012 and 2014.

The Roman­ian civ­il soci­ety expects Ger­many, along with the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, to keep up their crit­i­cal and proac­tive approach­es. Ger­many is also expect­ed to play a key role in nego­ti­at­ing future EU Treaty changes. Unof­fi­cial­ly, Ger­many and the US are per­ceived as guardians of democ­ra­cy and respect for the inde­pen­dence of Romania’s judi­cia­ry.

The difficult path from austerity to growth

Two (cen­tre-right) Roman­ian gov­ern­ments have fall­en, fol­low­ing dras­tic spend­ing cuts affect­ing the salaries of pub­lic work­ers while aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures were anger­ing cit­i­zens and under­min­ing faith in gov­ern­ment offi­cials. The spend­ing con­straints have been attempts to sat­is­fy con­di­tions imposed after a bailout by the Euro­pean Union, the Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund and the World Bank (2009). The course of the rul­ing coali­tion, pro­mot­ing growth rather than aus­ter­i­ty, receives broad sup­port accord­ing to polls, which influ­ence pol­i­cy in this elec­toral year (Euro­pean Par­lia­ment and pres­i­den­tial elec­tions). Fol­low­ing the aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures in 2010–2012, Roma­ni­a’s econ­o­my grew at its fastest pace in two years in the third quar­ter of 2013, denot­ing a1.6 per­cent increase quar­ter on quar­ter. In com­par­i­son, the EU-28 aver­age growth in the same peri­od was at 0.2 per­cent, while growth in the euro zone fell to 0.1 per­cent.

UK exit and Romania’s freedom of movement

British euroscep­tics put Roma­nia on the British polit­i­cal agen­da by ques­tion­ing the free move­ment of Roman­ian work­ers. In the UK’s elec­toral con­tes­ta­tion, oppos­ing the rights of UK-based East­ern Euro­pean work­ers was the euroscep­tics’ favourite slo­gan. Roma­nia timid­ly tried to fight back, but in no case did it reflect the vir­u­lence of the British euroscep­tics’ state­ments.

Roma­nia offi­cial­ly embraces the EU’s views, accord­ing to which the UK should remain in the EU. How­ev­er, pub­lic opin­ion in Roma­nia is not nec­es­sar­i­ly in favour of the UK remain­ing in the EU due to its vir­u­lent rhetoric against Roman­ian work­ers.

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This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March 2014. Most of the reports were deliv­ered in June 2014. This issue and all pre­vi­ous issues are avail­able on the EU-28 Watch web­site: www.eu-28watch.org.

The EU-28 Watch No. 10 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained there­in.