December 3, 2014
Anchoring European countries in the community structure requires a lot of specialists, active both in Brussels and in the capitals. The European construction has mainly an institutional dimension, but civil society and particularly the business sector are actively involved in recent developments.
Countries that are part of the European Union have understood that European commitment is not just a “zero sum game”, but an opportunity for development. Not coincidentally 100,000 people use EU-Brussels as a base for their activities. In addition there are 500,000 more people who are involved at least partially in the game of EU policy.
Experts say – those who have their activities in the “Silicon Valley of European affairs” understand what I mean, that there are a very strong lobbies in Brussels in the corporate and NGO sectors, but that the most powerful lobby is the one of the EU member states.
This context is observed in Romania only in a limited way, a country which is an EU member state for almost eight years, which has the Presidency of the EU in 2019, a country where the partisan political apparatus is much too dominating in the public policy approach.
The purpose of this letter is to look to the future, to float some new ideas which are grounded in reality, for our country to be in a position where we all want. This exercise is still in the pilot stage, so any contribution is welcome at this level.
Allow me to outline some personal ideas, focusing on the human resource required for this macro-process. A possible source of inspiration for the Romanian Government and the newly elected President team:
The European system will enter a phase of accelerated speed. On the one hand because the new team, which just installed itself at the Schuman Square, is eager to promote their projects; and on the other hand due to “European developments which have a direct impact on the debate about the future of EU institutions”. To cope with the workload, Romania must redouble and quickly improve their institutional human resources involved in the mechanism of connecting the country to the EU. This can be done only by launching a new government program, similar to the one launched in 2002 for the EU pre-accession period (Euro-experts programme). Through this mechanism the expertise in the different ministries can strengthen, but one should also think about the regional institutions.
The new European Commission will launch a mechanism of re-industrialization of the EU, while simultaneously working on the digitalisation process. It is already institutionalised by Chancellor Merkel in the form of the industrial revolution 4.0 project. As a reaction, Romania must strengthen the representation of the Romanian private sector in Brussels, Europe’s legislator. Given the particularities of the Romanian economy, the Romanian Government should be involved in finding co-financing schemes. A solution that seems convenient is the French model that works perfectly as support for French corporations.
Corporations are important, but in the EU the European associations are real tools to influence legislation. Of the approximately 3,000 European industrial federations present with a permanent secretariat Brussels, Romania is present in about 300 of those as member and in not more than 30 cases we have required resource allocation (financial and human) to enable Romania and its position, who wants to be the 7th European power. We need a coherent strategy for Romanians to reach these secretariats, as well as thematic working groups specific to each federation in order to have a stronger presence in the flowcharts of these structures.
About 2,500 Romanian are working in Euro-Brussels. There is a critical mass of Romanian European officials who are not really aware of Romania’s priorities. It is imperative that there is an annual meeting of the members of the Romanian Government with senior officials of the European institutions (from Head of Unit upwards), in an informal setting and preferably in Bucharest. This will facilitate a direct exchange of views on priorities and positions of the two systems.
I believe wholeheartedly that Romania will reach the institutional maturity necessary to understand that the European political game is important, but that it must be supported by a strong technical component.
We hope that the debate in the European Parliament on 9 December 2014 will bring concrete ideas for a coherent project: “European Romania 2015-19”.