My friend and colleague Dan Luca, who is chairman of the Romanian socialists in Brussels and MEP candidate, recently published a book of reflections on how Romania should improve communication in Brussels. I was honoured to attend the book launch in the European Parliament in the presence of MEPs Hannes Swoboda and Ivailo Kalfin and made this video.
Even more recently Dan spoke to Romanian news agency Agerpres on the same issue. He argues that the restrictions to the labor market in Belgium (which were lifted only on 1 January 2014, seven years after Bulgaria and Romania’s EU accession) prevented the nationals of those countries to take their rightful place in the Brussels galaxy of federations, associations, consultations, law and lobbying firms, media etc. that together shape European policies along with EU institutions.
Indeed, EU institutions have a quota for Bulgarian and Bulgarian nationals, but outside the public sector nobody keeps places for those nationals. To obtain a working permit was a major obstacle, as many employers massively rejected candidates from Bulgaria and Romania, fearing burdensome administrative hassle.
Dan Luca says that for the voice of Romania in the EU in the EU to be heard, the presence of 5,000 Romanians in Brussels is needed, while their present number is only 2500.
Only now, seven years after Romania and Bulgaria were admitted to the EU, these countries at last get equal opportunities with other member states for access to the European capital, says my colleague.
Romanians are actually very well organized in Brussels have a website and published a guide with advice to newcomers – how to prepare for municipal formalities, what they need to know about Belgian law, how to apply for work, how to contact the Romanian representations, associations and churches (eleven in Belgium), what to do to sign up their children to school or kindergarten – more than 200 pages of tips.
In Romania’s Permanent Representation to the EU works diplomat whose job it is to make sure that more Romanians to get high positions in European institutions. This year for the first time, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta invites all senior Romanians in European institutions to Bucharest, where he will brief them with the priorities of his government, but also to listen and establish a personal contact. Large countries like France, Germany organize similar meetings ago.
Bulgarians in Brussels are not so well organized, I must confess. Inspired from Dan, I wrote an article for the Bulgarian readers. I agree with him that seven years after joining the EU, Bulgaria and Romania are still not equal to the others, because they are subjected to humiliating monitoring, which themselves the accepted. Are also because they are not sufficiently represented, and do not act as a national team.
The European elections are a good occasion for the governments in Sofia and Bucharest to reflect on these issues. Romanians are better prepared, be it only for the fact that they have such a strong candidate as Dan Luca. I hope his party gives him on the list the place he deserves.