VISION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF ROMANIA ON THE FUTURE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
The EU enlargement is the greatest challenge of Europe at the beginning of the 21st Century due to the chance to unite a continent where two world wars took place and resulted in losses of millions of human lives in less than 100 years. The EU enlargement is a political imperative.
Romania is a country willing to be part of the European Union. For Romania, integration in the EU means a guarantee of stability, economic growth and performances. The EU enlargement leads to a genuine revolution at the level of the European policies. Romania has enrolled in this irreversible process and takes part in the modernisation required by the integration into the European Union, which entails the general evolution of the whole Romanian society. 23248hvv65qdc7d
Romania’s bid to join the EU is overwhelmingly sustained by citizens (over 80% of the Romanians declare themselves in favour of the country’s admission to the European Union) and the consensus of the Romanian political class, which regards Romania’s accession to the European structures as a fundamental objective of national policy.
For Romanian citizens, as well as for those of the European Union, the identity of the European space is expressed by working places, fighting poverty and social exclusion, decent education, adequate health-care, a common approach of environment protection, of climate change and food security. They also want a Europe more involved in European external affairs, in defence and security problems, in fighting crime and terrorism. Reducing bureaucracy and creating a prosper economy, preserving the identity of the Union’s countries and deepening the integration process are other aims of the citizens of the member and candidate states.
At the end of 2004, concluding the future Intergovernmental Conference is foreseen with the signing of a new treaty or legal fundament of the European Union (in the case in which a thoroughgoing restructuring of the existing treaties is to take place), which could come into force during the year 2006. This means that Romania’s accession may be realized almost in the same time with the European Union’s change, thus the natural interest of the Romanian society to involve in this debate and to contribute with ideas and solutions for a future structure to be part in.
In Romania, the internal debate on the future of Europe has been launched on May 9, 2001. This debate was materialized in contributions of the political factors, of the civil society, of the academic medium, think-tanks and, not lastly, of the citizens that, together, shape the vision of a candidate country, but which aspires to the status of „the smallest country of a large size” in the EU. Under these conditions, the emphasis is on the EU political construction and the sensitive sectors for Romania. vd248h3265qddc
This is the initial position that the Government of Romania reports at the Convention and synthesises the majority of the opinions presented during the public internal debate in 2001. This position is not unilaterally developed but takes into account the diversity of the expressed opinions of those involved in this forum.
1.The future of Europe and the good governance
The European Union reform involves a series of questions related to the governance and the way in which EU uses the power given by the citizens. A good usage of the power involves a close relation of the Union with its citizens and leads to more efficient policies. In order to touch this aim, different political instruments are combined, such as legislation, social dialogue, structural funds and action programs, thus contributing to the strengthening of the Community method. The principles that define the good governance and which should be applied in the functioning of the future EU institutions are: opening the institutions for the public opinion; a participation as large as possible at establishing and implementing policies; a clearer commitment of the responsibilities by all institutions; efficiency, manifested through clear objectives, proportionate implementation of policies and supplying coherence between policies and actions.
In order to succeed in involving citizens in building the future institutions and policies, the civil society has to be co-opted (from NGOs to trade unions and professional associations or religious communities). The civil society regards even greatly Europe as a favorable framework for changing political orientations and society, granting a real possibility to enlarge the debate on Europe’s role. Taking into account the fact that a more efficient involvement means a greater responsibility, the civil society has to follow the principles of good governance, which covers accountability and openness. Under these conditions, re-evaluating the implications of the Economic and Social Committee is necessary and must have an active role in developing a new relationship of mutual responsibility between institutions and civil society.
2. The necessary reforms in the European Union
Romania aspires to a European Union established as a federation of nation-states, built on two pillars (the first, of the Community, consolidated, and the second, inter-governmental, restructured) and as a simultaneous expression of two Unions, as an Economic and Monetary one and as a Political one. This structure has to take into account the fact that the overwhelming majority of the European citizens still have strong feelings for their national identity and are deeply attached to the state to which they belong. National interests still represent a reality in the day-to-day business of the European Union. Under these conditions, the future political Union will have to develop from downward to upward, from citizens to states and from states to the Community, and the procedures of building to be those already efficient in the domains where were applied: the method of co-ordination and enhanced co-operation among the Member States.
3. Reforming the European Union’s institutions
Applying these methods supposes keeping a balance of the European institutions that proved to be efficient in decision-making, in order to raise the legitimacy of these institutions in front of the citizens of the European Union.
The most adequate way to defend the European interests is by increasing the role of the European Commission. The President of this institution should be commonly elected by the European Parliament and the European Council in order to ensure its entire legitimacy in front of the Community. As far as the number of Commissioners is concerned, Romania supports the principle “one state, one Commissioner”. Yet, a limitation of the size of the Commission can be accepted, provided that for the countries that will not have a Commissioner of the respective nationality during a term, some specialized “task-forces” should be created, on specific matters, that have an urgency. As for the Commission’s role as “Guardian of treaties”, in the future, this institution might gain responsibilities, in the line of ensuring the necessary coherence between the intergovernmental and Community sectors”, meaning, inter alia, that the ones responsible for CFSP and JHA in the Commission will be the partners of the High Representative for ESCP, and not his replacers.
The President of the Commission could also receive a role of „facilitator” for unblocking the procedure situations between the Council and the Parliament, when the conciliation procedure has no result. The European Commission should have the monopoly of the legislative initiative in adopting the Community legislation. The Commission should also have an increased role in defining the relations between institutions and their implementation.
The European Parliament should have increased powers through the extension of the co-decision procedure with the Council and to grant the Commission’s President the competence to intervene as a facilitator in case of an institutional blockage. The Parliament could also elect the President of the Commission, by majority, at the proposal of the European Council. The Parliament could also have attributes regarding the budget, through eliminating the difference between the compulsory and non-compulsory expenditures.
As for the National Parliaments, Romania supports the idea of establishing a „Committee of the National Parliaments”, according to the model of the Economic and Social Committee and of the Committee of the Regions. The definition of the role of this new body should start from the model of the future Union. There are two options: a minimal one, consisting in the creation of a new committee with the same position as the previous ones, which will have a consulting role on problems concerning the intergovernmental co-operation (e.g. consultative advice on a European common strategy), and a maximal one, in the sense of providing important competence by taking over some legislative functions from the Council, in co-decision with the European Parliament (e.g. a future joint budget for CFSP).
In Romania’s vision, the Council should continue to be the institution that reflects the interests of the Member States within the Community, but its activity must be rationalized, and its functions must be more clearly defined. In the condition of the developing and strengthening the economic-financial and political-security components, it becomes increasingly difficult for the CAG to co-ordinate the Council’s activity and, in turn, it becomes more convenient to increase the role of the ECOFIN. The two formations appear to be best placed to co-ordinate the Council’s activities according to their individual competences. The Government of Romania considers that the vote with qualified majority should be generalised.
The European Council have to remain the institution which continues to set up the guiding lines of the development of the European Union. The European Council should receive some decision rights in some fields of a strategic interest for the Union and when the situation urges maximum effectiveness, or when the differences between CAG and ECOFIN need an arbitrage. The European Council could promote a multi-annual legislative program, on the recommendation of the Commission and the European Parliament.
4. Assignment of competences on the levels of government
Romania considers that setting up a „catalogue of competences” in order to cover different levels of competences, is not necessary. Assigning competences between the European, national, regional and local level can be made on the principle of the progressive transfer of power from a superior level towards the local levels.
The issue of subsiditarity is the attribute of the member states and is expected to be analysed separately case-by-case, given the fact that the way of operation depends on the economic and social development at a certain moment. But establishing clear mechanisms is necessary in order to allow the ad-hoc delegation of certain competences.
Special commissions of the European Parliament or of the national parliaments could solve the eventual disputes, which can appear as a result of delimitation of the most adequate level of decision-making. Ultimately, the European Court of Justice has the right to control the application of the principle of subsiditarity and proportionality.
Proportionality should remain the basic principle for drawing up a legislative act or promoting a common measure. Every time, the European Union has to choose among more methods and actions, the one, which supplies the greatest freedom for states, natural or legal persons.
Despite all changes that might interfere in the Union, solidarity and equality among the member states must be the fundamentals of the European Union.
5. Common policies
Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)
The Economic and Monetary Union contains the ingredients for the construction of a genuine “Economic Union” of the European countries. On the other hand, the long-term success of the EMU also depends on the evolution of the political union. The political will is crucial for the long-term viability of the economic union.
EMU must be open and remain accessible to future members, especially with regard to the adhesion to the single currency. A main idea of the whole European construction is the unity of the continent.
The principle of equal opportunities – a universal vocation for the policies of the Union – should be applied in all the future evolutions of the EMU. Moreover, in order to remain open to the new members, it is vital that the EMU maintains the principle of equal opportunities, through maintaining the same criteria for the accession to the common currency.
The EMU’s long-term viability, as well as its political and social sustainability require a further harmonization in the area of related economic policies (e.g.fiscal policy). At the same time, for the purpose of preserving consistency, coherence and unity of the European construction, one should also take into consideration the general evolution of the future member states in meeting the convergence criteria.
The only viable scenario, at least on medium-term and in the absence of evolution towards fiscal convergence, is that of monetary and fiscal discipline. In this context, in parallel with the harmonization of some policies such as the taxation, a special attention must be devoted, in the future, to matters concerning the mobility of the labor force and the flexibility of the labor market in the Member States. A high degree of employment and the reduction of negative effects of some asymmetric shocks will contribute, on the other hand, to the increased support of the public opinion for the European construction.
The strategy initiated in Lisbon and completed in Stockholm defines the main general orientations of the economic and social European model. The other coordinates of the future European economic model are the sustainable development and the development of a knowledge-based society (e-Europe).
In the field of environmental protection, Europe has already become a leader. The EU must consolidate this position and react strongly so that its own errors will not be repeated by the developing states.
As far as the third part of the European model is concerned, it is necessary to realise a “technological unity”, by encouraging and managing a sustained flow of technological transfer within the Union, including the future Member States and even those neighboring the EU.
Common agricultural policy (CAP)
The new CAP, as it appears as a result of the latest reform initiated in 1997, is a long-term viable and desirable economic policy. As a principle, Romania excludes taking into account the alternative of renationalizing some parts of the CAP.
A reformed Common Agricultural Policy will reach two objectives: (a) focusing on the function of income redistribution and (b) striking “the negative externalities” of the old ways, by supporting in the future an ecological agriculture, rural development and food safety.
The present moment is characterized by debates referring to the reform of the CAP, the democratisation of the EU and the future of multilateral commercial negotiations. A more accountable Union will make the accomplishment of the CAP reform absolutely necessary. In this context, there is the opportunity for the candidate states to directly apply a CAP built on the new principles, without applying the policies and the methods that have been applied in the past and now prove to be wrong. Such an evolution would certainly be in Romania’s advantage.
To the same effect, it is necessary that the future WTO negotiation rounds should take into account the realities of the new member states. At the internal level, Romania wishes to harmonize its agricultural reforms to the directing lines of the new Common Agricultural Policy, even since the moment of the its structuring, in order to efficiently integrate the Romanian agriculture into the European one from the accession date.
Structural and cohesion funds
With regard to the structural policies, Romania supports the preservation of the present level of nationalisation. Structural intervention is absolutely necessary for the preservation of economic and social cohesion in an enlarged Europe, where the member states stick to the same parameters and the same economic policies. The aspect concerning redistribution under the conditions of an Economic and Monetary Union is vital, as it is the principle of European solidarity to remain at the origin of these policies.
The present instruments in the field of structural funds are sufficiently elaborated. New instruments are not necessary, but the old ones must be adapted to the specific needs of the future members. Romania supports the adoption of the Community method concerning the subsiditarity principle.
In this respect, it is necessary to emphasize the role of structural funds in the promotion and capitalization of the human resources and the flexibility of the labor market, simultaneously with the stimulation of the private sector to become involved in the physical infrastructure projects (transports, environment). The future policy will have to place an emphasis on the technological factor that has not only a regional, but also a European dimension, which is crucial for the success of the social-economic European model.
The technological dimension has to become more present in labour market policies. A better correlation between the cohesion policy and the research policies that stress the promotion of the principle of excellency is desirable.
Common trade policy
The trade policy has to remain consistent with the other Community policies, in a temporal and geographical approach.
Romania supports the activity within the WTO as a legitimate channel for the management of globalization, provided it will take into account the social and economic fundamental interests of the new member states. The reflection process could elaborate more on the new concept of “controlled globalization”.
Common Foreign and Security Policy
The main problems encountered by the Union in promoting a genuine Common Foreign and Security Policy consisted mainly in the institutional lacks (the problem was not necessarily the absence of the framework or institutional incoherence, but mainly the insufficient exploitation of the existing framework), and also the absence of a clear and structured vision regarding the relations with the main international actors, such as the USA, Russia, China. The CFSP will remain to a high degree intergovernmental, especially as a result of ESDP, but the Commission should also be associated to a greater extent to the implementation of the policies.
The EU is not only a regional power, but in many fields it has the potential to distinguish itself as a global power. Europe should develop in the world stage the following parameters: the closest ally of the USA, Russia’s connection to the community of free, democratic states, and a commercial and financial giant (through Euro) in all the areas of the world. But Europe should, at the same time, remain faithful to its methods of external promotion of its values, by the well-known preventive actions, a greater concentration on the development policies and commerce (CPA agreements with the developing countries) and a greater focus on multilateralism and its methods and organizations.
The European Union seems to benefit from the fact that there is no dominant tendency within the “15”. On the contrary, the Member States, especially the medium and small ones, seem to concentrate on certain fields of external policy where they have tradition, expertise and certain interests. This way to conduct foreign policy avoids resorting to the traditional interests of balance of power, as it occurred so often during the past. This was obvious in the Balkans in the 90’s. These main characteristics are a part of EU’s political identity. Through enlargement, the CFSP features will get consolidated. Romania considers that, during next IGC, a special attention should be given to the EU external actions and geographical limits. Even if these actions do not belong to the Convention activity, they should be an advantage for a subsidiary approach of this issue.
Justice and Home Affairs
Romania supports the need to develop a common area of freedom, security and justice, but also to preserve the balance between the three components, especially with regard to freedom and security.
The main component should be the barometer of this area, through the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The role of EU in establishing the political, economic and social rights has been enforced with the introduction of the “European citizenship”, and is a legitimate one. With the development of this field, we will possibly witness the gradual merger of the third pillar with the other two pillars.
From the point of view of implementing the security and justice components, it is necessary to strengthen the role of Europol and to integrate it in the Community Pillar, as well as to create a European Prosecutor’s Office.
Romania considers as extremely important to create a single European border police, necessarily accompanied by a common financing instrument. Under the conditions of Romania becoming the external border of EU, it is necessary for the country to take parte to developing JHA policies. In order to accomplish the transparency of the EU policy, implementing co-decision procedures concerning border control issues, asylum, visas, migration, judicial and administrative cooperation, would be mutually beneficial.
6. The European Constitution issue
Romania is seeing the issue of restructuring the Treaties in a favourable light and asserts the necessity of a European Constitution or a Constitutional Treaty of the EU. Romania also supports the idea of separating the primary EU legislation into two parts: one fundamental part as a Constitution, containing the Treaties, and another part including the current policies. Thus, the Constitution/the Constitutional Treaty should be revised through a special procedure, by all Member States and only after general direct consultations of the European citizens, while the technical provisions could be modified through a simplified procedure.
The additional treaties resulting from this exercise and synthesising the larger part of the acquis, should follow a different revising procedure, simpler and more flexible. However, it is extremely important that such a step affects neither the substance of the acquis, nor the common policies.
This Constitution should include, in corpore, the current Charter of Fundamental Rights, which should consolidate the Political Union and the European Identity of citizens. In certain Member States, provisions of this document adopted in 2000 are already in force, which makes this Charter able to progressively gain judicial force. Adopting the Charter as a part of the acquis will only have to be made in the framework of a Constitution.