They sound boring, they are unattractive, difficult to understand, deja vu: the big European political topics risk being neglected in a landscape populated by punctual news, much more attractive. And yet, their impact will be considerable in Romania. In the following, I chose a number of six.

Three reasons why Romania will feel the impact of the Green Deal stronger than other European countries

1. Green Deal: economic and social pressure

It has been Brussels’ favorite refrain since pre-pandemic times. What has been said, and it is true, is that the “Green Pact”, as it was called in Romanian, comes with huge sums of money and areas of development that a few years ago seemed like speculative fiction. It is, of course, a matter of relocating existing businesses on a non-polluting basis and creating new, even less polluting ones. More recently, discussions about global warming being an invention, Trump’s exit from the Paris Agreement (which limits carbon emissions) and the like are beginning to disappear from the center of the debate.

But the problem is that we will begin to feel the costs, not just the benefits of the Green Deal. The energy crisis at the end of 2021 is not directly linked to the EU’s ambitions for 2030 and 2050, but it is a good example of what is beginning to happen. From dreams of alternative energy and clean digitalization, we come to realities such as that the cheapest electric car in Romania is Dacia Spring, which costs 19,100 euros on Automarket.

Romania will certainly feel the impact of the Green Deal stronger than other European countries for at least three reasons.

The first is the lower standard of living, starting from which the mentioned amount, of 19,100 euros, is a higher effort. Second, an older and more inefficient economy than others, which leads to a gap that is difficult to recover. And third, the explosion of pandemic skepticism, when anti-vaxers became a vocal and majority segment. This is a possible indicator of mentality, because pollution and its limitation are a much more philosophical and complicated discussion than belief in the vaccine or skepticism about it.

In the philosophy of European funding, the motorways we still want are a quasi-closed chapter for most other EU countries. Simplifying as much as possible, Europe’s problem at the moment is how to reduce pollution from the same highways that we do not have.

In other words, European money is harder to match our needs. This is also exacerbated by the radical change in the philosophy of the EU budget, the so-called MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework).

The Green Deal, digitalisation and other imperatives are different from what the EU wanted by 2021 and would have been without a pandemic. Romania’s well-known inefficiency in absorbing European funds, the conservatism of the institutions and agencies that apply to these funds will become more problematic factors in the prosperity equation.

Let us not forget, however, that in politically miserable times, with a governing coalition that was just imploding, Romania managed to comply administratively and receive the money from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. This money will, willingly or unwillingly, fuel the economy and prosperity, even in a depressed scenario in which political forces will divide their funds like prey.

2. The rule of law: Romania is no longer the tail.

Brussels’ concern for democratic values ​​is clear, compared to countries like Poland or Hungary, which have more and more eccentric initiatives, such as the gay-free cities of the former, and are beginning to be held accountable for it. Democratic values ​​were also explicitly stated by Ursula von der Leyen in the “basements” (as they are called in the annual State of the Union speeches in Brussels), and as conditions for the allocation of money from the Next Generation fund. which feeds local PNRRs.

You may be wondering how this affects Romania, if in Bucharest, from this point of view, it is relatively quiet. With the exception of AUR, which is more concerned with Parliamentary bullies and vaccines than with sexual minorities and is currently marginalized in the political spectrum, there is no conflict of ideas or politics between Bucharest and Brussels.

Or what affects Romania is the lack of this kind of somewhat articulated, long-running Euroscepticism. From Brussels, Romania is seen as broadly “OK”, whatever that means. If Euroscepticism remains marginal, the political benefits will somehow come naturally. And from this point of view, the hypothesis of the rapacity of Romanian politicians is, paradoxically, good news: no one has the interest to cut off their European funding sources in the near future. So a moderate line regarding the EU, like that of the PSD, at present, is easier to imagine.

A chimera

3. EU strategic autonomy: A playing card just because we’re pro-American.

It seems like a chimera at the moment, because the desideratum dates back to the times before COVID, when Donald Trump disturbed the waters in NATO and Europe was somewhat orphaned. In the age of Biden-Putin direct telephones, the European Union no longer seems equally opulent, aging, devoid of conservation instincts. And yet, strategic autonomy has emerged as a phrase and has its famous lawyers, the most visible of which is Emmanuel Macron.

It is a discussion that will continue, for sure. For Romania, it is important especially because of the privileged relationship with the USA, the so-called Strategic Partnership. The Strategic Partnership is very important in our times, when there is talk of an invasion of Ukraine by Russia, hence the intentions to increase the American presence in Eastern Europe. From this point of view, it seems that Romania’s bags are in the American cart, but we should not throw away the opportunities that arise from the new European concern. Certainly, strategic autonomy will be an operational concept, linked to modern challenges, from asymmetric warfare to economic pressures and misinformation. It will not be a matter of the number of tanks and missiles, it would be stupid for any European military concept to double NATO capabilities. But there will be a degree of competition with the pro-American and pro-NATO orientation.

At the moment, Romania is part of the choir of the Eastern countries, vocal towards the threats coming from Russia and with a sharp attitude in cases of human rights violations such as Navalny or Roman Protasevich from Belarus. It is an attitude that honors us, because it leads to a policy based on principles and less on interests, but the book of EU strategic autonomy will have to be played anyway. We will see to what extent we know how to be desirable or annoying, given our relationship with the United States.

4. Reporting to China: We are relatively in sync with our allies, but we will have to keep in sync.

Xi Jinping’s hegemonic ambitions are notorious, in a world where China’s remarkable economic strength appears amid a gradual weakening of Russia, which can hardly be seen as the “great enemy,” no matter how worrying things may be. situation in Ukraine. The United States has trouble redefining its geopolitical role in the post-Trump era, and certainly the world in which we live will no longer be unipolar, as it was from the fall of the USSR to the emergence of China. In other words, America’s unique global peacekeeping role seems less likely in the future. From this point of view, Romania’s policy is uncompromising on the US chain: our country was one of the four that initially refused to enter Huawei’s local 5G market, following the American model, while other European countries had a more permissive attitude .

In recent times, however, Brussels’ concerns about the conditions that China wants to subject the EU to have been multiplying. And Bucharest has every reason to listen carefully.

The quasi-permanent theme in the global landscape

5. Migration and asylum seekers: We need to (re) think about politics.

It is a topic that seems to be updated only when we are dealing with an influx of refugees from Syria or Afghanistan. However, we would be naive to believe that such conflict situations will disappear in the coming years. The issue of migration to the EU is likely to become quasi-permanent in the global landscape. From this point of view, Romania’s policy has been to a very large extent to somewhat tacitly discourage migrant flows, because we have an interest in presenting ourselves as a secure border of Europe, primarily because of the goal called entry into Schengen. But there are also times when this level of reporting to the problem will no longer be enough.

6. Digitization: Will the authorities keep up with the private sector?

It’s a vague and seemingly boring term, which could be partially replaced by the “5G revolution” or something similar. But the word matters less. More important is the finding that Romania is more naturally digital-oriented than stronger economies, primarily due to the lack of previous technologies. We know very well how Romania became a big user of mobile telephony: because the older technology, the fixed line, was almost impossible to use, with waiting lists for months to install a new telephone set.

Likewise, Romania has almost completely burned the stage of dial-up connections (telephone modem), in order to get a good fit for fixed broadband connections, with higher speeds. That “the Internet is surprisingly good” in Romania, whatever that means in any kind of top, is an indication that the premises for rapid development continue to exist.

The launch of the vaccination platform in early 2021 was greeted with a chorus of dissatisfaction on the first day, but the site became relatively operational in a short time and, in any case, well ahead of platforms in other European countries. It is true that so far, the most powerful driver of digital innovation in Romania has been the private sector, from the cable companies of the past, who have transformed their businesses into some ones on the net or have drastically lost market share. mobile operators.

In this respect, from the point of view of the Brussels funds, it is a question of considerable resources. It remains to be seen to what extent politicians and the administration will know how to interpret the esoteric political objectives of Europe, because it is not about expansion and functionality, simply, as in the era of horizontal, private expansion.

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