Ever since its own accession to the EU was achieved, Romania has consistently stated its position in favour of the entrance of the Western Balkan countries in the European Union. Thus, at the “Croatia 2007” summit held in Dubrovnik in July 2007, Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, after identifying as the main challenges to the region “the domestic reform processes” and “the resolution of security issues pending”, opined that both are closely linked to the “belonging to the European and Euro-Atlantic families”. Also, in a substantial foreign policy speech delivered one year ago (24 January 2007), President Traian Băsescu referred to Romania’s “ambition to demonstrate, through the force of its own example, that enlargement and deepening may go hand in hand […] Romania pleads for an open-door policy, as a major factor for stimulating democratic reforms and economic development”.
The first official reaction following the announcement of the disappointing result of the Irish referendum came on June 13th 2008, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Minister (and former Romanian permanent representative to the EU) Lazăr Comănescu stated that it was “the option of the Irish electorate and has to be respected as such”, while also expressing his trust that “as shown in other moments, the member states together will find the best way for continuing the consolidation of the European construction”.
Somewhat more surprisingly, the positions subsequently expressed by other top-level Romanian officials were equally optimistic and deprived of concrete suggestions as to the solutions available for breaking the deadlock. Before leaving for the Summer European Council on June 19th, President Traian Băsescu declared to the press that he does not see the situation engendered by the Irish rejection as a “crisis”, but merely a “difficulty”, and expressed his belief that the European Summit will “find solutions in order for the Lisbon Treaty to enter into force before the European Parliament elections of June 2009”. Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu’s remarks on the subject sounded slightly more concerned.
The beginning of the period of the Lisbon Treaty ratification, after its signature in December 2007, has been a new opportunity for Romanian President Traian Băsescu, as well as for the Prime Minister, Călin Popescu Tăriceanu, to restate the importance of Romania’s participation – for the first time as a fully-fledged Member State – to the signature of a Treaty that is crucial for the future of an institutional architecture shaped according to the EU’s current formula of 27 Member States. According to the statements made by the Prime Minister, Călin Popescu Tăriceanu, at the closing of the European Council’s session in Brussels, “the formal closure of the debates regarding institutional matters, alongside with the conclusion of this Treaty, mark a new stage, that allows us to highlight specific projects that address the European Union's citizens. This is the so-called Europe of Results stage (…). It is very important to move forward to the next level, which is to ratify the Reform Treaty”.
Timetable for ratification
Europe needs to stand by its current reduction objective
With few exceptions, the result of the Copenhagen conference, more exactly the content of the agreement, is seen as moderate progress, given the limitations of the document, namely the “political character of the provisions, the minimal compromise tendency and the lack of any formally assumed obligations by the main carbon gas polluters.” On a more positive note, Radu Dudău, the author of a policy brief dealing with this topic, remarks – in spite of the serious deficiencies of the format of the conference negotiations, which have highlighted structural gaps between actors from developed countries and those from emerging economies in terms of concrete arguments brought to the table – “in the near future, signatory states will have to go through with the political promises assumed.”
Croatia most likely to join the EU
As reflected in the Romanian press, the most likely country to join the EU is Croatia, followed by Serbia, despite the lagging dispute over Kosovo. The focus is on the economic progress achieved by Croatia so far, as compared to countries like Romania and Bulgaria – which are already members of the EU – and on the fact that interruptions and delays in Zagreb’s path towards EU membership were mostly connected to the consequences of the armed conflicts in the early 1990s. Some experts suggest that, should it not have been for the territorial disputes with Slovenia, Croatia would have become an EU member in 2004.
Croatia’s efforts to meet the accession criteria are viewed in a positive light by Romanian officials. On the occasion of a meeting between Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor Baconschi with Gordan Jandroković, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Croatia, the head of Romanian diplomacy “appreciated the accelerated pace of negotiations for accession to the European Union, emphasising the important role the Republic of Croatia plays in the region.”
European Institute of Romania
The main issue in today’s Romania is that related to the current financial and economic crisis that haunts the world economy. The effects of the crisis are beginning to be felt also in Romania, and the government; the main political parties and the social partners are trying to figure out how to resist the crisis while maintaining as many jobs as possible. To put it in a simple way, the main dilemma is how to fulfil all obligations while keeping the budgetary deficit under control, in a time where the budgetary revenues are going down.
European Institute of Romania
The conflict in Georgia shifted back attention from the subtleties of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) – instrument diversification, liberal principles of openness and trust building – to one of its fundamental, hard power related principles: security.
Insofar as security is one of the key dimensions of the ENP, as underlined by the former Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lazăr Comănescu, the ENP action plans are seen as “instruments that we have at our disposal for pursuing our security policy in the neighbourhood”. From this perspective, the conflict in Georgia raises a threat to the security of the Eastern neighbourhood of the EU and thus to the EU itself. The Romanian President, Traian Băsescu, translated this European security threat in terms of national interest: “Romania is extremely interested in its own security and the events that take place in the Black Sea area, occurrences or developments that might directly affect both the state of Romania’s security and the economic developments, especially the energy related ones”.