Romania's renewed European priorities

#CriticalThinking

Picture of Oana Mocanu
Oana Mocanu

Picture of Eliza Vaş
Eliza Vaş

In line with the European priorities, the newly elected president of Romania, Klaus Werner Iohannis, has included in his presidential programme the accomplishment of several political goals. These consist of repositioning Romania as an active player in the context of the Eastern Partnership, his intention being to place a strong focus on supporting the Republic of Moldova’s EU aspirations. Another political objective is connected to the potential impact Romania could have in re-shaping the macro-regional Danube strategy. He also wants to press the case for Romania’s membership of Schengen and the eurozone, while domestically he plans to narrow the development gaps between Romania’s regions, and will be creating a ‘National Common Platform’ for the more efficient management of EU funds.

To deliver on the first priority, the new Romanian government has said it is determined to promote democracy, stability and predictability among its eastern neighbours. It sees closer co-operation with the Republic of Moldova (RM) as particularly fruitful because of common historical and cultural backgrounds. In 2010, the two countries declared a ‘strategic partnership’ for the European integration of the Republic of Moldova, followed in 2012 by an ‘Action Plan’. Last year saw the Association Agreement signed as an important step towards RM’s economic and political integration with the EU. Closer co-operation between Romania and RM has led, among others, to gas and electricity interconnection projects, and the scholarships awarded by the Romanian government to Moldovan students. Romania’s own track record of adhering to the EU accession criteria and conditionality rules when negotiating membership may also be a positive example for the Republic of Moldova’s economic and social development, and for its legislative harmonisation with the EU.

On the other hand, Romanian institutions are now seeking to reaffirm their key role in re-shaping of the Danube strategy. Romania’s priorities for 2013-2016 include transportation, energy, environmental protection and water management, research, tourism and rural development, most of which will have a direct impact on other Danube region countries. Navigation is to be improved on the Romanian-Bulgarian section of the Danube, and infrastructure will be modernised at Constanţa and in the smaller ports of Brăila, Galaţi, Olteniţa and Calafat.

In times like these with continuous challenges in the geopolitical sphere, and with the aim of developing more efficient macro-regional strategies, Romania may have the possibility to become an example of strategic leadership and a regional anchor of stability and growth.

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