European Union: Romania's question of the future
The government in Romania wants to use the EU Presidency for populist purposes. If she succeeds, the country will continue to alienate herself from Europe.
It was an eleven-year-old boy from better background who summed up Romania's situation. On the eve of the Romanian EU Council Presidency, he sat in the quiz show Want to become a millionaire? Children are in charge! and beat himself splendidly. What he wanted to do first, when he was of age, asked the moderator in between and got the answer: "I will leave Romania and go abroad." Not only the presenter took a breath away. Many viewers may well have asked themselves the question: What is actually going wrong in a country that an eleven-year-old boy wants to leave it as soon as possible?
As brave and sad as the boy's answer sounds, so symptomatic is it for the entire country. For years, Romania has lost a dramatically large portion of its young, educated elite, who are turning their backs on the country, also because they deeply distrust the state institutions of their country. The latest survey results sound gloomy: around 80 percent of Romanians have no confidence in their parliament; Eight in ten Romanians think that their lives are badly affected by corruption. Six out of ten young Romanians want to leave the country.
The country is also shaping this mood at the start of its first EU Presidency, and there are quite a few Romanians who ask themselves: can this be good? And if so, for whom? And if not, who will be the victims?
"Are they blind in Brussels?"
After all: Almost half of all Romanians still hopes for Europe, according to the latest Eurobarometer. However, one of the truth is that in no other EU country did trust in the EU decrease more sharply last year. In April 2018, as many as 59 percent of Romanians still believed that the EU was "a good thing" for the country - a marked loss of confidence that has much to do with the policies of the current government in Bucharest, which is mainly controlled by one man: Liviu Dragnea, the condemned because of attempted electoral condemnation party leaders of the ruling PSD, which may be called only in the name of Social Democratic.
Quite a few Romanians are already disappointed that Brussels, despite grave allegations against Bucharest, has entrusted the Romanian government with the presidency of the Council. They see it as evidence that the EU is abandoning them and their country. This is what you read in online forums, in social media, or you hear it in personal conversations: "You will bankrupt the EU, Putin will thank you!" or: "Are they blind in Brussels, how could they allow the EU to be ruled by those thieves even for one day?". This is how the comments of those who fear that the EU legitimizes the activities of this government by awarding its Council Presidency to Romania a fortiori.
Others, on the other hand, see something good in Romania's moving into the center of Europe right now. This is also the hope of those Romanians who have recently taken to the hundreds of thousands on the street and witnessed how their peaceful protest against the government on 10 August in Bucharest was brutally crushed by the gendarmerie with truncheons and tear gas. It is the representatives of a diverse non-parliamentary opposition who oppose the fact that Romania's ruling party PSD and its chairman are preying on the state, occupying all key positions, especially in the judiciary, with their followers and preparing amnesty laws; with the sole aim of protecting corrupt partisans from prosecution and to cleanse Liviu Dragnea of all criminal charges.
Reward for anti-European politics
For many Romanians, the hope of change through Brussels grew as the European Parliament passed a resolution in early November urging the Romanian government not to jeopardize the independence of the judiciary. In Bucharest, however, the warning fell on deaf ears. Many Romanians then waited for something concrete to happen. But their hope was disappointed: Brussels did not respond, as did the European Socialist Group in the European Parliament. The demand from Romanian civil society to exclude the PSD from the faction community was rejected - despite a large collection of signatures, despite the support of politicians from different countries, such as some socialists from Denmark or Portugal and even a renegade Romanian MEP of the PSD. The fact that Europe is even rolling out the red carpet for this government with the Council Presidency is something that many Romanians find rewarding for a policy that deeply contradicts European values in their eyes.
For Liviu Dragnea, his party and his devoted government, the EU Presidency could indeed be a success. Their main concern is to exploit the next six months for their own expansion of power. The forced anti-EU-discourse of the last months seems - if one believes the polls - in any case to fruit. The head of the PSD and his entire government are today giving themselves up as self-confident politicians of European rank, who now finally have the opportunity to stand up to Brussels. They speak of "discrimination by the EU, which they will now stop" and condemn the interference of the EU in national affairs.