The Winter edition of the Romanian Journal of European Affairs brings to the readers’ attention topics such as: the economic development and innovation at local level, Romania-China relations and their political and economic challenges, the imbalances of the post-crisis world and the transformations in liberal international order, Macedonia’s stalled bid for EU membership, EU in international investment governance, the domestic constraints in negotiating the transatlantic deal, as well as three book reviews on emerging Europe, narratives of European integration, trust and crisis management in EU.
Economic Development and Innovation at Local Level – Local Business Environment Index (LBEI)
Clara Volintiru, Mihai Volintiru, George Ștefan
This paper presents an original novel metric for assessing economic activity at local level: Local Business Environment Index (LBEI). In the development of this metric system we explore a large set of variables that are disaggregated at municipal level for the case study of Romania. Following the existing literature on the different drivers of economic development, we propose four major axes of assessment: entrepreneurship, innovation, investment financing, and public authorities’ support. We present the overall ranking of the level of attractiveness of the local business environment in the Romanian municipalities, among which the highest scores belong to cities of various sizes: Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Alba-Iulia and Sibiu. Each municipality has a different distribution of specific strengths. We look in-depth in the final section of this paper at the sub-index of Innovation, dominated by Timișoara or Cluj, rather than the capital city.
Keywords: Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Economic Development, Romania
Romania-China relations. Political and economic challenges in the BRI era
Liliana Popescu, Andreea Brînză
Our paper explores the bilateral Romanian-Chinese relations, including the wider context of the EU-China relationship. There is a history to Romania-China relations, which favours Romania, given the closeness of the two countries during the Cold War period. The pursuit of EU membership by Romania contributed to a diminished attention paid to other parts of the world in the 2000s. This situation is changing. The EU membership enrolled Romania in common EU policies, including trade policy. The EU-China relations developed visibly, particularly after 2003; a renewed impetus is noticeable starting with 2009, and again in 2013. Romania’s renewed interest and opening towards China coincides with the year when the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was launched. Even though there were cancellations and delays in implementing certain common projects, there are good prospects for improvement and new openings.
Keywords: Romania-China relations, BRI, 16+1, EU-China relations, Romania
“The power of producing wealth, infinitely more important than wealth itself” – the truth transforming the current international order
Paul Dobrescu, Mălina Ciocea
This paper discusses the causes of the imbalance that characterises the post-crisis world by looking at manufacturing capacities, public debt and trade deficit. It analyses the spectacular transformations taking place nowadays in liberal international order: rapid changes in the structure of global power and in the hierarchy of various countries and regions in international economy and trade. The article shows that while historically the hegemonic power defended the order it had instituted, in today’s world the US encourages bilateralism, and not multilateralism (one of the fundamental traits of globalization). Pro-globalization voices now belong to other contenders in the global economic race (like China).
Keywords: international order, manufacturing, public debt, trade deficit
Macedonia’s Stalled Bid for EU Membership: Is the Solution in Sight?
The narrative for Macedonia’s EU accession efforts is basically about a stalled process for the best part of the last years. Although the Commission has recommended starting accession talks for several years in a row, Greek objections blocked progress, however, just as they did at the Bucharest NATO summit when Greece prevented Macedonia from joining NATO. In June 2018, following the withdrawal of the Greek veto as a part of the agreement to change the country’s name to the Republic of North Macedonia, the European ministers have decided that Macedonia’s EU accession talks will start in June 2019, provided a string of conditions are met. While some Member States expressed concerns about corruption and the rule of law in Macedonia (and Albania), the others have decided to support expansion for geopolitical reasons and to counter the rising Russian and Chinese influence in the Western Balkans. The aim of this paper is to critically evaluate the credibility of the EU enlargement process and the overall state of play in the formal accession of Macedonia including, for example, the progress in resolving a decades-old name dispute, and other indicators in alignment with the overall acquis and performance in terms of trade integration.
Keywords: Macedonia, EU, Enlargement, accession talks, acquis, trade integration
The European Union in International Investment Governance: a Hybrid Approach to Dispute Settlement
Beatriz Pérez de las Heras
Investor-state dispute settlement and arbitration, in particular, stands at the centre of a process intended to reform the global regime of international investment treaties. The mechanism’s negative impact on public decision-making processes and its inherent shortcomings, such as an absence of transparency and a lack of arbitrator independence, have impelled moves to redesign the system. As a leading actor in the international investment landscape, the European Union (EU) has proposed replacing traditional arbitration with a specific court system for each bilateral agreement containing investment arrangements. However, the proposed system retains key aspects of classic arbitration whilst posing as yet unresolved issues in relation to the interaction with the EU Court of Justice and the current institutions of international arbitration. Nevertheless, the EU’s initiative is intended merely as a transitional remedy, ultimately leading to a multilateral judicial institution that would bring greater consistency to the resolution of investment disputes. Though important for the contribution it makes to the current debate, the EU’s proposal has faced criticism for some crucial deficits. Therefore, if the EU’s project is to prosper, it must first be discussed and agreed upon as part of a broader agenda of investment governance reform at a global level.
Keywords: investment treaties, investor-state dispute settlement, arbitration, court system, multilateral investment institution.
Negotiating the Transatlantic deal: the case of domestic constraints
Alina Petronela Alexoaei, Valentin Cojanu
Progress towards a final agreement between the European Union and the US for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) stalled indefinitely in 2016. The negotiation process has been influenced by a wide and complex set of factors stemming from interdependent factors (mainly geopolitical), dependent factors that originate in global economic integration, and independent factors coming from domestic socio-economic, political and institutional constraints. Assuming the influential role of internal pressures and domestic political events, we single out in this paper the question of domestic politics whose specific contribution to the outcome of trade negotiations have been emphasized to a great extent by various studies. The paper pursues a three-pronged approach in order to: (1) identify the set of domestic constraints on both parties, (2) assess their influence on each’ side strategic position, and (3) suggest both available and desirable future courses of action to improve the negotiation outcome.
Keywords: TTIP, negotiations, domestic factors, strategic behaviour
Book Review: Emerging Europe and the Great Recession, by Daniel Dăianu
The impact of the global financial crisis on the European Union and the New Member States has been the subject of a large body of literature. This review assesses arguments made in Dăianu’s ‘Emerging Europe and the Great Recession’, a book exploring failures leading to the Global Recession. It summarises key themes evoked in the book, namely causes of the global financial crisis and its implications for industry’s entrenched models, democracy and monetary policy; it also considers whether it is possible to redesign the international financial architecture as to minimize the disruptive effects of future crises. Moving on, the review highlights Dăianu’s thinking as being rooted also in his experience as a member of the European Parliament and other official duties; the depth that this provides to his arguments, especially as the book moves towards practical policy considerations. The review draws to a close by focusing on the effects of the crisis on Romania, such as the effects of Romania’s capital account liberalization, before raising the question as to under what terms New Member States should join the Eurozone.
Keywords: Great Recession, Financial Crisis, European Union, USA, Protectionism, Romania
Book Review: Why Europe? Narratives and counter-narratives of European integration, by Alina Bârgăoanu, Raluca Buturoiu and Loredana Radu (eds.)
The current volume promotes a critical yet constructive approach to European integration by placing current communication practices (including the visibility and media coverage of European issues, public discourse, elites and ordinary citizens’ perceptions of the EU, civic participation, etc.) at the heart of this process. Blending theoretical discussions with empirical research on the hottest EU-topics at the moment, the book draws attention to the constituent role of communication in bridging the widening gap between the EU and its citizens. Although EU communication practices might seem of minor importance at a time when the European project is confronted with what many people call an existential crisis, the editors of this book convincingly argue that there is no other viable way towards a legitimized, functional European project that enjoys the support of its people. In the absence of a European communication arena, the EU’s efforts to institutionalize collective policy solutions, procedures or commitments will remain without echo.
Keywords: EU communication, crisis, media frames and narratives, European integration
Book Review: Trust and Crisis Management in the European Union. An Institutional Account of Success and Failure in Program Countries, by Dóra Győrffy
This review is about Dóra Győrffy’s book, ‘Trust and crisis management in the European Union’. The book takes an institutional approach to analyse the success and failure of crisis management in eight EU member countries that needed an external financial support to solve their financial difficulties. The book shows us how much trust mattered in these processes, both by the conditionalities implied and the exigencies during the implementation phase. While Ireland is a positive example, where trust in the institutions has accelerated the crisis management process, the case of Greece proves how the lack of trust leads to an austerity spiral. The book compares the experiences of the three Mediterranean (Cyprus, Spain, Portugal) and the three Eastern (Hungary, Romania, Latvia) EU member countries to the Irish and Greek examples, presenting the similarities and differences, and revealing the importance of institutional trust in these crisis management processes.
Keywords: European Union, financial crisis, institutional trust