Romania was the first country in Central and Eastern Europe to have an official relationship with the European Community. In 1974, a treaty included Romania in the Generalized System of Preferences of the Community, and later in 1980, an agreement on
manufacturing goods was signed. According to the Commission Regular Report 2004, Romania fulfilled the political criteria. It had also consolidated and deepened the stability of its institutions. However, the report suggested, the effectiveness of governmental and judiciary reforms was dependent on Romania’s ability to effectively implement the changes.
Romania became an official member of the European Union on January 1st, 2007. In order to be accepted as a member state, Romania had to meet some requirements, such as improving its economy, eradication of bribery and corruption and also imposing visa and frontier regimes on the non member states, such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey and Moldova.
Romania is the largest, upper-middle-income economy of central-eastern Europe, the 12th largest in Europe by total nominal GDP and the 8th largest based on purchasing power parity. Romania is a member of the European Union, its most important trading partner. Its capital, Bucharest (with 2.5 million people), is the largest financial centers in the region. Romania stands to benefit from the size of its market (about 22 million people).
According to a recent World Bank Study, Bucharest is set to double its population in the next ten years exceeding 4 million inhabitants. Romanian GDP will double by 2011. Romania is one of the most stable and prosperous states of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. As of 2007, the economy is growing at a steady pace of above 7% a year. Future prospects are tied to the country’s increasingly important integration with the European Union member states. The country is expected to join the Euro zone, between 2010 and 2012.
Economy of Romania
National economic indicators
3.6% August 2007
GDP growth 7.7% 2005–2006
Exchange rate (per €)
3.3848 September 14, 2007
Exchange rate (per £)
4.8967 September 14, 2007
Exchange rate (per ¥)
2.0087 September 14, 2007
On January 1st 2007, Romania entered the European Union. This led to some immediate international trade liberalization, but there was no shock to the economy. The government is running annual surplus of above 2%. This fact, together with annual GDP growth of above 7%, has brought the government indebtedness to 22.8% of GDP in 2006.
This is to be contrasted with enormous current account deficits. Low interest rates guarantee availability of funds for investment and consumption. For example, a boom in the real estate market started around 2000 and has not subsided yet. At the same time annual inflation in the economy is variable and during the last five years has seen a low of 2.3% and high of 6.3%
Romania’s diplomatic bond with the European Union lasts since 1990; the most important events which mark the clear decision of Romania to integrate into the Euro-Atlantic structures as strategic options, constantly manifested after 1990, have been:
o In 1993, when it became a member in the Council of Europe.
o In 1994, Romania became an associate member of the EU.
o In 1997 Romania became a member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement.
o In 1999 Romania was elected chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, for 2001.
o Romania was officially invited to membership talks, starting in February 2000, at the European Union summit in Helsinki.
o In 2000, Romania officially started accession negotiations.
o 2002, a t a NATO summit in Prague, the Heads of NATO member states adopted a decision to invite Romania to start NATO accession talks. Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia were also invited to join NATO.
o The Copenhagen European Council in December confirmed the support of the Council for Romania’s accession in 2007, and the EU used the occasion to maintain negotiation pace with Romania.
o In 2003, The European Council stated that welcoming Bulgaria and Romania in January 2007, if they are ready, is the common objective of the Union of 25.
o In 2004, Romania officially became a NATO member, together with six other states in Central and Eastern Europe.
o In 2005, in Luxembourg, Romania and Bulgaria signed the Treaty of Accession to the EU; it finally became a member state in the European Union on January 1st, 2007. Bulgaria was another country that joined the European Union at the same time.
o In 2005 signing of the Accession Treaty in Luxembourg: Romania and Bulgaria signed the Treaty of Accession to the EU. The final act states that: Romania and Bulgaria will join EU on January 1st 2007.
o In 2006 an EU report to the European Parliament on the entry of Romania and Bulgaria said it was still possible for Romania to enter on schedule but listed areas in which progress had to be made to meet the target date. For Romania, this was in the areas of food safety and setting-up agencies to pay EU farm aids.
o In 2006 the final monitoring report on Romania by the European Commission recommended accession on January 1st, 2007. A final vote in the European Council finalized this in October; it was anticipated there would be no further obstacles to accession.
Romania had multiple parties representing a large political spectrum, made of historical parties (Partidul National Liberal and Partidul National Taranesc, Crestin Democrat) and new born parties, especially with socialist origins.
The Romanian political scene was alternatively dominated by the PSD (Partidul Social Democrat), ran by Ion Iliescu (old communist leader), and by the historical parties in alliance with the Democrat Party, ran by the current President, Traian Basescu. At the moment, our government is made of ministers of PNL and the Democrat Hungarian Union of Romania (a party structured on ethnical criteria), and the chief of the government is Calin Popescu Tariceanu, president of PNL.
Most of the citizens were happy about Romania becoming a state member. All these past years we all saw changes and improvements in other countries that joined the EU and we realized that such an alliance would only help us become stronger and have a better economy, political system and even a better opinion from all of the other countries. As soon as it made public that Romania was going to be a member state, other countries started trusting it more and we had lots of foreign investors coming and starting businesses, which increased the number of jobs and money of course. Tourism developed, Romania became a very popular destination in such a short time, and it will only keep growing. Public opinion polls in Romania indicate 70% of the population is in favor of accession to the European Union. However, the rest of the EU’s population has a less positive view of Romania’s accession, with an approval rate of only 45%.
So far, there have not been any negative changes since Romania joined the EU. Romania’s strategic geopolitical location will influence the EU’s policy towards its relations with all of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Turkey and Asia. In the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative Romania has an opportunity to demonstrate its leadership in the region. Officials consider Romania to be both a part of Central Europe and a part of SEE. This reflects the Romanian government’s dual ambitions today of strengthening Romania’s chances of Euro-Atlantic integration while also being seen as a leader and a zone of stability and democracy in its immediate neighborhood.
In 2007, the priority landmark based on which Romania’s foreign policy directions are drawn up is to outline the profile of an EU responsible, efficient, pragmatic and influent member. This means fulfilling the commitments undertaken during the pre-accession period and ensuring the conditions required for a performance at the level of the expectations that the partners in the Union have with regard to Romania. The accession to the European Union marks a new stage in the evolution of Romanian diplomacy, defined by the progressive undertaking of a new paradigm of foreign policy expression and action, centered on anticipatory analysis, consistent construction, integrating initiative, institutional balance and strategic vision.
Romania will pursue four priorities within the EU:
o the consolidation of ESDP/CFSP (endowing EU with efficient civil and military capabilities, consolidating EU presence in missions of crisis management, stabilization and post-conflict reconstruction, EU coordination and complementarities with NATO);
o the substantiation of the European Neighborhood Policy, which becomes not only a vehicle for promoting EU values and standards in the Eastern regions, but also an instrument for promoting a strategic, comprehensive and flexible approach of the Black Sea region;
o the (external) energy strategy, which will have to be reinforced by a genuine common energy policy, designed to support the energy efficiency, the diversification of resources and transport routes and its liberalization;
o the (external) migration strategy; Romania plans to contribute to consolidating EU capacity of providing credible answers to fundamental problems, such as drawing workforce from outside the Community, accompanied by social and economic integration policies, fighting illegal migration by avoiding the creation of an “EU fortress”.
Of course there are regulations that are going to have to be followed, some of them have been made public but people are still adjusting, such as food and beverage restrictions and
smoking environments. Food has to be tested and approved before it goes into supermarkets and so do beverages.
All public environments must be non smoking, only some restaurants and bars are allowed to have a smoking and non smoking section.
My overall impression on Romania’s membership in the EU is a very positive one; I can see my country becoming stronger and more open to new ideas and concepts. Everybody has more options nowadays, concerning school, jobs and so on.
My advice to Romania is to really fight corruption because it still exists and to start working hard for a better life; many people still think there are ways to make money other than honest work, because during the communism it was the only way to survive, a regular job was just not enough to support a family. But that is all over, it has been over for a long time and there is no need for illegalities anymore. I believe it would help our image and our future so much.