During 2015 – 2016 I had the pleasure to take part to the European project Building Bridges between National Perspectives on the European Union and to be one of 28 contributors to its final publication, by presenting the Romanian perspective.
The final publication of the ‘Building Bridges between National Perspectives on the European Union’ project called European Union in the Fog gathers articles from all across the Member States, with each chapter – following the same structure of answering five questions:
“What does your country hope to gain from its membership to the European Union?
“Do you think that the European Union appears to be a clear project in your country? If not, what are the main reasons?”
“Which degree of integration seems adequate to the position and ambitions of your country both politically and economically?”
“According to you, how could we strengthen the idea of belonging to a common European public sphere among your national citizens?”
and “Which policies would you deem essential to conduct at the EU level in order to better legitimise the European project?”.
Enabling an easier comparative reading, the papers aim to provide a solid analysis on each of the 28 Member States in a way that is accessible to the wider public.
One of the initial objectives was to see whether one or two main political initiatives could emerge at the European level, which might refresh the EU’s image and credibility in the eyes of the citizens. The short answer is: none could instinctively revitalise the EU across all Member States.
However, three main trends have emerged across the chapters:
- First, the EU is expected to show results. Instead of grand projects, which can hypothetically federate the Europeans, the EU should focus on delivering on concrete projects. In other words, it should be “an EU of projects”.
- The second main trend is more specific to the Eurozone countries. Solving the economic crisis is a priority. There is broad support for a more robust Economic and Monetary Union, but the recipes to reach this stage may be different between those who wish for more flexibility and those who argue that rules should prevail.
- The third worthwhile trend to mention is the importance given to foreign policy. Many contributions stress that there is an expectation that the EU should play a greater role in foreign and security policy.
Romania: Soul Search, National and European Identity and Politics in a Time of Trouble. Building Bridges Paper Series
Despite almost ten years within the European Union, Romania’s accession is not yet complete. Romania is not part of the Schengen zone and has yet to enter the Eurozone (planned for 2019). Moreover, a core problem remains in the ownership of the necessary reforms to catch up with the rest of the EU and to reform the public authorities.
Romanian attitudes vis-à-vis the EU are consistently favourable but this is not sufficient evidence of an appreciation for the European Union as it reflects a distrust in national institutions. Nevertheless, more could be done in the national curricula at school to better promote the EU. A greater knowledge base in Romania would help the country reach its true potential within the EU.
Romania is a firm believer in further integration. It supports an EU energy policy, common foreign policy and a strengthened Eurozone. There is also a belief that the EU should better defend its achievements, such as the four freedoms, as it helps better legitimise the European Union in the eyes of citizens.
The Building Bridges Project is available online at http://www.ifri.org/en/recherche/zones-geographiques/europe/projet-building-bridges
The study The European Union in the Fog is available online at http://www.ifri.org/en/publications/publications-ifri/ouvrages-ifri/european-union-in-the-fog