Romania is not Greece

Giving gifts to the Greeks or helping the prodigal son

Greece’s eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion is regard­ed with acute seri­ous­ness by many Roman­ian ana­lysts due to the close geo­graph­ic prox­im­i­ty and the impor­tant num­ber of Greek banks in the Roman­ian bank­ing sys­tem. Many often won­der what would hap­pen if the Roman­ian banks with Greek cap­i­tal or the Greek banks oper­at­ing direct­ly in the Roman­ian mar­ket would face seri­ous sol­ven­cy prob­lems. The main fear of the finan­cial ana­lysts was and still is that “the Greek banks with an impor­tant pres­ence on the Roman­ian mar­ket [a 25 per­cent share of the Roman­ian bank­ing mar­ket] could reduce the vol­ume of cred­it as they will have to rely more on scarce, local resources.”11Vasile POP-COMAN: Băn­cile gre­ceşti din Româ­nia: “drob­ul de sare“ sau „căl­câi­ul lui Ahile”?, Săp­tămâ­na Finan­cia­ră, 22 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.sfin.ro/articol_19073/bancile_grecesti_din_romania_%E2%80%9Edrobul_de_sare%E2%80%9C_sau_%E2%80%9Ecalcaiul_lui_ahile%E2%80%9C.html (last access: 18 May 2010). How­ev­er, the Nation­al Bank of Roma­nia believes that there is no such risk; as a Nation­al Bank offi­cial clear­ly stat­ed, “there is no threat for the Roman­ian bank­ing sys­tem as a result of the Greek cri­sis.”22Ibid. Even if the sit­u­a­tion of the Greek econ­o­my will not direct­ly affect the banks, for many Roman­ian offi­cials, Greece remains the per­fect “scare­crow” used to jus­ti­fy aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures. In Pres­i­dent Tra­ian Băsescu’s words, “con­trary to the tele­vised gai­ety, that Roma­nia is like Greece, I tell you that we have 2011 and 2012, if we were to con­tin­ue in this rhythm, in order to reach Greek ’per­for­mances’. There, we still have time to take actions so that noth­ing bad hap­pens.”33Pres­i­dent Tra­ian Băs­es­cu press con­fer­ence, 13 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.presidency.ro/?_RID=det&tb=date&id=12098&_PRID=ag (last access: 18 May 2010). Although the Greek sit­u­a­tion is a dif­fi­cult one, for many econ­o­mists it is clear that Greece will not fall down, as its fall would seri­ous­ly affect the Euro­zone. The finan­cial pack­age direct­ed toward sus­tain­ing Greece was seen with relief in Bucharest. In Lidia Moise’s words, “Roma­nia breathes more eas­i­ly as the pres­sure over the Roman­ian Leu atten­u­ates.”44Lidia MOISE: “Bani la Ate­na, efect cal­mant la Bucureşti“, Revista 22, 13 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.revista22.ro/bani-la-atena-efect-calmant-la-bucure351ti-7976.html (last access: 18 May 2010).

When neighbouring countries require similar solutions

If Roma­nia is nei­ther Greece, nor will it reach its sit­u­a­tion, then there will at least be a side effect of the lessons learned by the Roman­ian author­i­ties. Even if the num­bers dif­fer and Greece has some struc­tur­al advan­tages relat­ed to its econ­o­my, geo­graph­ic loca­tion, etc., we still have some “bad” habits in com­mon: “growth on debt, fis­cal eva­sion, politi­ci­sa­tion of the pub­lic appa­ra­tus, ‘buy­ing off’ the trade unions’ silence.” For the eco­nom­ic ana­lyst Dan Suciu, the last trait that can set us dif­fer­ent from Greece will be just that – that the Roman­ian author­i­ties do not have to buy the trade unions’ “silence” at the cost of bud­getary deficits.55Dan SUCIU: Gre­cizarea Romaniei, Revista 22, 16 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.revista22.ro/articol-7816.html (last access: 18 May 2010). Aure­lian Dochia, a renowned Roman­ian econ­o­mist, also draws a series of warn­ings for Roma­nia which must not be ignored by the gov­ern­ment. First­ly, when the issue in ques­tion is mon­ey, even “the most har­mo­nious fam­i­ly rela­tions dete­ri­o­rate rapid­ly” and, sec­ond­ly, Roma­nia will be forced to restruc­ture its pub­lic sec­tor or its pen­sion sys­tem.66Aure­lian DOCHIA: Poveste de fam­i­lie, Româ­nia Liberă, 8 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.romanialibera.ro/opinii/comentarii/poveste-de-familie-176821.html (last access: 18 May 2010).

The financial Big Brother – a necessary step?

In var­i­ous finan­cial and intel­lec­tu­al media there is, in a way, hope that the strong mea­sures, which are to be tak­en by the Euro­pean Union in order to obtain a stronger coor­di­na­tion of eco­nom­ic poli­cies in Europe, will rep­re­sent a plus for Roma­nia, who will be, there­fore, oblig­ed to adopt stricter finan­cial con­trol of the nation­al bud­get. This idea resides clear­ly from a pol­i­cy memo of a Roman­ian think tank, the document’s title being “We must not be afraid of the Euro­pean Mon­e­tary Fund”. The authors draw a straight­for­ward con­clu­sion “it will be in our best inter­est that the EU cre­ates stronger mech­a­nisms of eco­nom­ic super­vi­sion – we would sim­ply put together/import fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty, a thing that lacks us.”77Cris­t­ian GHINEA/Mihai PANAITE/Paul IVAN: Să nu ne fie frică de Fon­dul Mon­e­tar Euro­pean — comen­tarii pe mar­gin­ea Con­sil­i­u­lui Euro­pean, CRPE Pol­i­cy Memo no. 9, March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.crpe.ro/library/files/crpe_policy_memo_9_ro.pdf (last access: 18 May 2010). One of the main ideas result­ing from this study is the neces­si­ty of the com­ple­tion of the com­mon cur­ren­cy by a method of har­mon­i­sa­tion of eco­nom­ic poli­cies. As the Euro­pean economies are so inter­con­nect­ed, this idea seems to be the best next step in order to avoid fur­ther eco­nom­ic problems.

The struggle for a better future: Europe 2020 – a dream in the making?

The Europe 2020 Strat­e­gy enjoyed a great deal of suc­cess in pub­lic debates unlike oth­er Euro­pean issues due to the cur­rent eco­nom­ic and social cri­sis. For many, it rep­re­sents the chance of a life­time for assur­ing Romania’s renew­al on the eco­nom­ic and social side. For the ana­lysts, Romania’s cur­rent sta­tus is a poor one, and only a coher­ent Euro­pean strat­e­gy could help our devel­op­ment. Far from help­ing to con­sol­i­date the Euro­pean aver­age toward the estab­lished lev­el, Roma­nia finds itself once more, “among the less advanced states.”88Ali­na GIRBEA: Noi în anul 2020 sau întoarcerea la plan, Europuls, 17 March 2010, avail­able at: http://europuls.ro/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=423:noi-in-anul-2020&catid=103:pol-soc&Itemid=1234 (last access: 18 May 2010). Aware of this état d’arrieration in devel­op­ment, the Depart­ment for Euro­pean Affairs ini­ti­at­ed on 3 March 2010 a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion regard­ing the Europe 2020 Strat­e­gy addressed to all the actors of soci­ety, a process meant to build con­sen­sus over the deci­sions and actions to be fol­lowed.99Depart­ment for Euro­pean Affairs, Depar­ta­men­tul pen­tru Afac­eri Europene lansează o con­sultare pub­lică pe tema proiec­tu­lui de strate­gie “Europa 2020” al Comisiei Europene, 3 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.dae.gov.ro/articol/833/departamentul-pentru-afaceri-europene-lanseaz-o-consultare-public-pe-tema-proiectului-de-strategie-bdquo-europa-2020-rdquo-al-comisiei-europene (last access: 18 May 2010). The main result of this con­sul­ta­tion process will be the adop­tion of a “Mem­o­ran­dum regard­ing the Approval of Romania’s pre­lim­i­nary posi­tion with regard to the Europe 2010 Strat­e­gy”.1010Depart­ment for Euro­pean Affairs, Mem­o­ran­du­mul privind Apro­barea poz­iţiei pre­lim­inare a României cu privire la Strate­gia EUROPA 2020, 12 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.dae.gov.ro/admin/files/Memorandumul%20privind%20Aprobarea%20poziţiei%20preliminare%20a%20României%20cu% (last access: 18 May 2010). It sets the main objec­tives that Roma­nia wants to achieve as well as a set of pre­lim­i­nary mea­sures designed to help achieve those objec­tives. One such mea­sure was the con­sti­tu­tion of a high lev­el work group designed to elab­o­rate, until May 2010, a pro­pos­al for the Roman­ian gov­ern­ment in order to achieve its nation­al objec­tives as well as a timetable at the nation­al lev­el.1111Depart­ment for Euro­pean Affairs: Strate­gia EUROPA 2020 la niv­el naţion­al, 12 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.dae.gov.ro/articol/961/strategia-europa-2020-la-nivel-na-ional (last access: 18 May 2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1Vasile POP-COMAN: Băn­cile gre­ceşti din Româ­nia: “drob­ul de sare“ sau „căl­câi­ul lui Ahile”?, Săp­tămâ­na Finan­cia­ră, 22 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.sfin.ro/articol_19073/bancile_grecesti_din_romania_%E2%80%9Edrobul_de_sare%E2%80%9C_sau_%E2%80%9Ecalcaiul_lui_ahile%E2%80%9C.html (last access: 18 May 2010).
  • 2Ibid.
  • 3Pres­i­dent Tra­ian Băs­es­cu press con­fer­ence, 13 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.presidency.ro/?_RID=det&tb=date&id=12098&_PRID=ag (last access: 18 May 2010).
  • 4Lidia MOISE: “Bani la Ate­na, efect cal­mant la Bucureşti“, Revista 22, 13 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.revista22.ro/bani-la-atena-efect-calmant-la-bucure351ti-7976.html (last access: 18 May 2010).
  • 5Dan SUCIU: Gre­cizarea Romaniei, Revista 22, 16 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.revista22.ro/articol-7816.html (last access: 18 May 2010).
  • 6Aure­lian DOCHIA: Poveste de fam­i­lie, Româ­nia Liberă, 8 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.romanialibera.ro/opinii/comentarii/poveste-de-familie-176821.html (last access: 18 May 2010).
  • 7Cris­t­ian GHINEA/Mihai PANAITE/Paul IVAN: Să nu ne fie frică de Fon­dul Mon­e­tar Euro­pean — comen­tarii pe mar­gin­ea Con­sil­i­u­lui Euro­pean, CRPE Pol­i­cy Memo no. 9, March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.crpe.ro/library/files/crpe_policy_memo_9_ro.pdf (last access: 18 May 2010).
  • 8Ali­na GIRBEA: Noi în anul 2020 sau întoarcerea la plan, Europuls, 17 March 2010, avail­able at: http://europuls.ro/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=423:noi-in-anul-2020&catid=103:pol-soc&Itemid=1234 (last access: 18 May 2010).
  • 9Depart­ment for Euro­pean Affairs, Depar­ta­men­tul pen­tru Afac­eri Europene lansează o con­sultare pub­lică pe tema proiec­tu­lui de strate­gie “Europa 2020” al Comisiei Europene, 3 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.dae.gov.ro/articol/833/departamentul-pentru-afaceri-europene-lanseaz-o-consultare-public-pe-tema-proiectului-de-strategie-bdquo-europa-2020-rdquo-al-comisiei-europene (last access: 18 May 2010).
  • 10Depart­ment for Euro­pean Affairs, Mem­o­ran­du­mul privind Apro­barea poz­iţiei pre­lim­inare a României cu privire la Strate­gia EUROPA 2020, 12 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.dae.gov.ro/admin/files/Memorandumul%20privind%20Aprobarea%20poziţiei%20preliminare%20a%20României%20cu% (last access: 18 May 2010).
  • 11Depart­ment for Euro­pean Affairs: Strate­gia EUROPA 2020 la niv­el naţion­al, 12 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.dae.gov.ro/articol/961/strategia-europa-2020-la-nivel-na-ional (last access: 18 May 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 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.