The Summer edition of the Romanian Journal of European Affairs brings to the readers’ attention topics such as: idiosyncrasies in the EU accession negotiations (case of Romania), fake news and insights into Romanians’ digital behaviour, structural funds absorption in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, the European Pillar of Social Rights, worrying labour market tendencies in the EU, the impact of Brexit on CEE countries security, EU-financed large-scale infrastructure projects (Rail Baltica).
Guest article: Idiosyncrasies in the Negotiation of the EU Accession – Case of Romania
This research aims at explaining some of the decisions (or ways of action) in the public sphere through the analysis of subjective elements (idiosyncrasies) that occur at individual level. The use of psychological methods for the analysis of foreign policy decision-making opened a new path of investigation in the field of international relations. The case study which is brought to attention refers to the period 2000 – 2004, during Romania’s preparation for accession to the European Union, from the perspective of the psychological factors that have intervened in the negotiations and decision-making process at the individual level. The discourses of former Chief Negotiator Vasile Pușcaș were analysed in this research process.
Keywords: psychological approach of decision-making process, idiosyncrasies, European negotiations, discourse, Romania’s EU accession
Fake News or Disinformation 2.0? Some Insights into Romanians’ Digital Behaviour
Alina Bârgăoanu, Loredana Radu
This paper focuses on digital behaviour, self-assessment of vulnerabilities to digital disinformation, and patterns of trust as exposed by Romanian citizens. By corroborating the data of the first national public opinion survey on fake news and disinformation (implemented between February and March 2018) with the Special Eurobarometer no. 464 – Fake News and Disinformation Online – implemented in the same time frame (February 2018), we capture the perceptions and attitudes of Romanian citizens over the use of new media and news trustworthiness, and we also compare the Romanians’ online behaviour with the average European’s. As similar research reveals, digital disinformation affects resilience of citizens in Member States and in the European Union overall, it “threatens the democratic political processes and values” (European Commission, 2018: 12), the integrity of elections and political processes, and should therefore, be approached as a legitimate public concern. Our paper opens the floor for more dedicated research and applied policies – at both the Member States and EU levels – aimed at mitigating the rising and ever worrying fake news phenomenon.
Keywords: disinformation, fake news, online platforms, public trust
Administrative Capacity, Structural Funds Absorption and Development. Evidence from Central and Eastern European Countries
Ramona Țigănașu, Cristian Încalțărău, Gabriela Carmen Pascariu
Literature acknowledges the importance of the administrative capacity for experiencing high levels of Structural Funds (SF) absorption. By defining the administrative capacity in terms of institutional quality and political management performance, the main purpose of this article is to analyse the impact of administrative capacity on the European Funds absorption level in Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC), given that they were facing common transformations during the transition period, as well as the impact of SF on development, controlling for the absorption level. Multiple regression analysis was used for testing the impact of administrative capacity on the absorption level during the 2007-2015 period, on the one hand, but also for estimating the impact of SF on development, on the other. The results showed that institutional quality and management performance have positively influenced absorption rates and that SF have managed to support economic development. Given that despite the learning process and the reforms carried out during the previous programming periods the CEEC are still lagging behind in terms of absorption under the current programming period, increasing efforts for improving their administrative capacity is required in order to ease cohesion policy implementation and boost their development.
Keywords: administrative capacity, institutional quality, management performance, structural funds, European funds absorption, development, Central and Eastern Europe
The European Pillar of Social Rights: Too Little, Too Late?
The paper analyses the opportunity, importance, implications and chances of success of one of the leading initiatives of the European Union, namely the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPRS). The conclusion is that, because of a number of economic, political and social phenomena manifested in the European Union among 2007 – 2018, such an initiative is highly opportune and may even represent the key factor in relaunching the European project. The analysis reveals that, due to the legal and financial limitations of the current format of the EPRS, this initiative may represent too little for achieving substantial and sustainable results. At the same time, due to reduced chances of securing tangible results in a reasonably short time, the initiative may come too late for re-connecting the European citizens to the European Union project and for counter-acting the trends towards national and local approaches that have already manifested in some of the member countries.
Keywords: European integration, European pillar of social rights, relaunch of European Union project, social market economy, social cohesion
Worrying Labour Market Tendencies in the European Union
Annamaria Artner, Krisztina Sőreg
The authors examine the developments that have characterized the European Union labour market in the past decades, relying mainly on Eurostat data. They focus on the tendencies of employment and unemployment in general, the changing conditions of work, the development of “atypical” forms of employment, the associated fluctuations of the social situation reflected in the different measures of poverty and social exclusion, and the distribution of incomes. The researchers touch upon the question of migration from the viewpoint of the European labour market and provide an overview of the community policies of the EU that have aimed at alleviating the problems of employment since 1970. The authors conclude that the EU labour market has been significantly differentiated during the past few decades and the precarious forms of “atypical employment” have grown in weight. The common policies have not been able to prevent the deteriorating tendencies of employment and they do not seem to be more successful in the near future either.
Keywords: atypical employment, European Social Fund, labour market, precariat, social conditions
The Impact of Brexit on Central and Eastern European Security
Valentin Naumescu, Agnes Nicolescu
This article examines the impact of the Brexit process on security policy and related political discourse in Central and Eastern Europe. Developments related to the Brexit process are considered in its two-fold dimensions: direct impact, on the European Union, and indirect effect, on UK’s contribution to NATO. In this context, the article proposes a qualitative analysis of foreign policy and security national strategy documents, official statements, media articles, public information sources, as well as commentaries, op-eds and positions of think tanks in the region. The aim is to reflect the perspectives associated to the Brexit process in Central and Eastern European countries, as captured in official and independent documents and positions. The article investigates conditions for the emergence of a new post-Brexit special relationship between the UK and the EU in the foreign and security field. Nuances between security policy discourses among different countries in Central and Eastern Europe reflect their various foreign policy orientations, preferences and commitments to the European security project. Opinions reflect that the UK’s influence on the European security agenda is likely to remain considerable, given its international standing, NATO role as well as recent security developments on its own territory.
Keywords: Brexit, Central and Eastern Europe, security, discourse, European Union, NATO
EU-Financed Peripheral Large-Scale Infrastructure Projects and the White Elephant Syndrome: the Example of Rail Baltica
Viljar Veebel, Illimar Ploom, Raul Markus
The present article revolves around the question of the appropriateness of “the white elephant syndrome” to characterize the nature of the planned trans-Baltic railway project Rail Baltica in terms of its initial financing, long-term profitability and symbolic importance. Whereas in general the expected outcome of the project goes well together with the EU Cohesion Policy goals, in its concrete application Rail Baltica could serve as an example of the tendency of politicians and public servants to institutionally lock in to certain irrational choices about publicly financed mega-projects, thus making it possible to speak about the white elephant syndrome. Can the effects of internalization and Europeanization change the nature of Rail Baltica?
Keywords: “White elephant” syndrome, European Union, structural funds, infrastructure, public policy