February 26, 2013
Romania is one of the 25 EU member states that decided to sign the Fiscal Treaty. But where is Romania placed in the debate about the future of the European institutions and the European Union in general? What will it mean for Romania, as an EU member state, when a new EU treaty is negotiated?
We try to find answers to these questions during meetings with a consortium of people from Brussels, Bucharest, and Cluj, involving both civil society organizations and academics interested in the subject. The partners involved in this project, which is centered on keeping Romania anchored in the current debate, are: the Faculty of European Studies Cluj, SNSPA Bucharest, the European Research Institute from Cluj, GrupRomânia Brussels, Club “Romania-EU” Brussels and “House of Europe” Cluj. EurActiv Romania is media partner.
The first public debate held on February 15, 2013, in Cluj, within the Faculty of European Studies, and I had the honor to moderate it.
The message of Titus Corlatean, Romanian Foreign Minister, was very well received: “This kind of public exercise of reflection can be a valuable source of ideas in the context of institutional dialogue at EU level”.
Nicolae Paun, Dean of the Faculty of European Studies in Cluj, mentioned in his opening statement that “academics should provide ideas that enable politicians to trigger strategies”.
“Questions like ‘How do we see Romania in the EU?’, ‘How does Romania perform in the EU?’, ‘What is the rule of law?’, ‘How to interpret subsidiarity?’, ‘How to respect pluralism?’ – provide answers for a pro-active involvement of Romania”, stated Diana Iancu, Dean at SNSPA (National School of Political Studies and Public Administration) Bucharest.
While most panelists were positive about the future of the European Union, Vasile Puscas, former Chief Negotiator of Romania to the EU, brought forth a strong warning: “It was precisely because of aberrant policies at the European level that the crisis has persisted. An apology that the crisis cannot change things is not relevant. The actual problem is that there were necessary changes were not made before the crisis, so that it could have been avoided”.
Romanian institutions need content and support to enter a complex project like that of resettlement of the European institutions. We are glad that the signal we give with this initiative, coming from civil society and academia, is received with great attention from the Romanian Government.
The main conclusions of the debate in Cluj:
• The European Union needs an administrative reform to regulate the distribution of powers, including an exact explanation of questions such as who does what?
• Unfortunately, the EU has remained a regional organization, because of its leaders. To change this it would take a strong Commission. The European Court of Justice has come to the rescue: without its intervention businessmen would leave the EU.
• The role of the European Commission is to focus on the global reach of its policies, not only on initiating and monitoring.
• The beliefs of the Member States towards European integration provide indications towards the development of a “multi-speed” Europe.
• The EU should consider a federation-like structure in which relations are horizontal, like in the German or Austrian federation.
• We should not forget about “the Markets”, further influencing leaders’ decisions.
• Different forms of skepticism which have developed recently in Europe have an impact on a reform of European institutions.
• In Romania, a new EU treaty would be another chance for domestic Europeanization.
• Romania’s voice must be observed by dialogue partners. Romania must be an active state in the process of reforming the EU institutions.
• Romania has defined opportunities, grounded in reality, which aims not for only national but also European development.
• It is imperative to connect the debate about Romania and its regions, or any other internal debate, to the current debate about the future of European institutions.
• From the perspective of the years to come, universities must play a bigger role in future negotiations, to give up the convenience of interior walls, to be open to the community.
A 24-page study derived from the discussion in Cluj, can now be accessed online (Romanian version).
Dan LUCA / Brussels