July 21, 2012
When you’re in an air balloon and it looses altitude, you have to dump some ballast. Or when your boat risks capsizing, you throw in the sea whatever is at hand and is not essential.
The EU has enough problems handling the eurozone crisis. The eurozone crisis already made the EU look weak. In addition, the problems of democracy in Romania, in Hungary and the malfunction of the rule of law in Bulgaria make it look as a caricature.
In Romania, the situation got out of hand following the effective jailing of former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase. Up to now, the unwritten rule was that the political elite would not be touched, whatever happens. Now faith has been broken, and Ponta wants to send Basescu to jail, and pardon Nastase. And nothing else matters.
I have spent several years of my life in Romania, under Ceausescu. As a foreigner, a Bulgarian student, I was privileged and felt relatively free. More than 22 years have elapsed since the Romanian revolution, but it still remains a mystery. But the Ponta revolution also remains largely unexplained. Why is Romania shooting itself in the leg when it stood such good chances to obtain a lifting of the EU monitoring, just months ago?
Romania’s monitoring report revealed last Wednesday by the EU Commission is scathing, but having read all of them, I can assure that it has been sexed up to look bad.
Bulgaria’s report is also much more negative than previous editions, which makes me wonder along the lines of the title I just wrote.
Bulgaria, who has its own long-standing problems with organised crime, at least didn’t raise any outright democracy problem. Besides, its Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is EPP-affiliated, from the family of Commission President Barroso, although not a personal friend of his. Barroso has heard a lot of bad things about Borissov long before he met him. But maybe as a result of these family ties, Bulgaria got a ‘bonus’ from the report – there will be no monitoring report until the end of 2013. (While the next report for Romania is end 2012.) Bulgaria has elections in July 2013, so basically Barroso gives no ammunition under the EU monitoring to the opposition in Bulgaria ahead of the poll.
But on the negative side, Barroso knows that Borissov is not going to deliver in the meantime, and a year and a half will be lost. Also on the negative side, Bulgaria stands no chance to escape the EU monitoring before Croatia joins on 1 July 2013. Croatia will not be followed by a monitoring, therefore Bulgaria, who joined on 1 January 2007, faces the humiliation to be monitored even by a country that joined later.
I’m not optimistic about Romania, and not only with regard to CVM or Schengen. Bulgaria and Romania have always been seen as a couple. Bulgaria doesn’t appear to give any good argument to earn itself a better treatment. Their future in a changing Union appears uncertain to me. This worries me a great deal. Because outside the EU, I see no long standing future for my country, weak as it is, and exposed to such powerful regional players.
When Barroso appeared in front of the press to deliver a short statement on Bulgaria and Romania, I wanted to ask him something. But he didn’t take questions.