Coping with security threats: a challenge for the European Neighbourhood Policy

Romania
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”[1]. 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”[2].
 

The French struggle with a difficult mandate: mission accomplie

Romania
European Institute of Romania
 
At the time when the French Presidency took office in mid-2008, there were very few who could anticipate the enormous tensions and crises that it would have to face during its six months tenure. Although for journalists, the French Presidency was to be a difficult one, no one could envisage the challenges which it will come to deal with. When speaking about what they called a “difficult mandate for Nicolas Sarkozy”[1], they were referring to what they considered to be the ‘traditional’ themes of the French Presidency: dealing with the Irish ‘No’; the security related issues; environment and energy; immigration and oil crisis; etc. No one could have yet foreseen the Georgian crisis or the economic crisis that would appear toward the end of the year.
 

Crisis report: more concern for the new member states

Romania
European Institute of Romania
 
Daniel Dăianu, MEP for PNL[1] and former Minister of Finance, addressed at the end of October 2008 a written question to the European Commission regarding the fate of emerging economies, i.e. those of the new EU member states, in the current and future context of the crisis. The main objection of the Romanian MEP is that “most talk about rescue packages in the financial industry, in the EU, concerns, basically, Eurozone member countries and other older EU member states. The EU new member states are hardly mentioned in this regard”[2]. The trouble with these member states is that their economies “do not benefit of the advantages of having a reserve currency of their own, have large current account deficits, and are feeling the pain of the flight to safe investments. All this is putting tremendous pressure on their currencies and is complicating immensely the tasks of local central banks”[3]. Facing such risks, the question asked by the Romanian MEP is obviously legitimate: “How does the Commission intend to address the specific problems of these economies against the backdrop of the international financial crisis and a spreading recession in Europe?”[4].
 

A strategic partnership – to be continued on European premises

Romania
European Institute of Romania
 
In light of Romania’s strategic partnership with the United States, a partnership achieved during the eight year tenure of George W. Bush that meant a strong Romanian military commitment in the combat areas in both Iraq and Afghanistan and materialised in the US support for Romania’s bid to become a NATO member. Romania’s orientation in terms of foreign policy was generally regarded as pro-American. In the pre-EU accession period, this meant that Romania’s position was contrary to that of some of the most prominent EU member states – as it happened for example over the divisive issue of Iraq. After becoming an EU member state, Romania generally backed the points of a common Euro-Atlantic agenda. The notable exception was the issue of Kosovo, when Romania went against the US view and that of the majority of the EU member states, citing the need to abide by the rule of respect of a state’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and opposing Kosovo’s independence.
 

After the Irish ‘No’: proceed with optimism

Romania
European Institute of Romania
 
The first and most obvious characteristic of the Romanian official position regarding the future of the European Union after the Irish ‘No’ is that of a moderate optimism. We are dealing with a type of ‘wishful thinking’ rather than a planned and calculated official view on what the future of Europe will look like after the Irish referendum deadlock.
 
It is obvious, when we look at the declarations of the Romanian officials in the months after the Irish ‘No’, that the key theme was the downplaying of this result: it is not a defeat but a mere setback; we are confronted with some sort of a road incident, an unpleasant one indeed, but it can be solved and there is no need to change the destination. Thus, the European Union has a future and this future cannot be conceived by the Romanian officials outside the Treaty of Lisbon.