RJEA, Vol. 6, no. 4, December 2006

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Social Policies and Structural Reforms in Europe

Ferran Brunet Cid, Mar López Ranca?o

Abstract:
This paper considers the social and structural policies in contemporary Europe. The presentation is organized in four sections. First, we discuss the emerging Europe, the new unity based on democracy and the market economy, the special European Union formula, and comparisons with America.
Second, we analyze the dynamics of the European economy, the convergence process, the gaps between United States in productivity and standard of living, competitiveness issues, and the emergence of a new European economy and new European policy mix.
Third, we consider European social conditions, the stationary and aging population, Europe’s low employment rate and permanently high unemployment. European economic growth could draw on two major sources: the labor reserves and reforms in factor, product and service markets. In a monetary union, advanced industrial relations should promote labor mobility and salary flexibility. The social security systems permit the redistribution and cohesion which defines the European model.
Fourth, for the new Europe, the structural reform strategy is the way forward for the challenge of European economic policy and social policy: more and better jobs thanks to sustainable growth in a dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy, favoring greater social cohesion.

Keywords: Economic Policy, Europe, European Integration, Social Policy, Structural Reforms

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Labour Market and EU Enlargement: Is there a Real Threat for EU – 15?

Florin Bonciu

Abstract:
The paper analyzes the existing and potential impact of 2004 and 2007 enlargements on EU economy and argues that in order to increase its competitivity on the global market EU needs to deepen the liberalization of markets. More focus is put on the implications of the liberalization of the labor market and answers are found to the fears expressed in Western Europe on the effects of enlargements on local labor markets, particularly vis-à-vis the forthcoming accession of Romania and Bulgaria in January 2007.

Keywords: competitivity, EU enlargement, market liberalization

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The Euro Zone Eastern Enlargement: Challanges to Current Members and the ECB

Mihai Sebea

Abstract:
The eastward enlargement of the euro area entails significant implications both for acceding countries and for the current euro area member States or for the European Central Bank. The present analysis intends to assess the challenges up against the latter. The issue is analyzed from two points of view: firstly, relating to the risks caused by the group’s drawing away from the status of optimum currency area, complemented by increasing development disputes and the difficulty of implementing a unique currency policy, and secondly – the issue of the voting mechanism within the ECB. When analyzing those two issues, we can easily notice that the difficulties for ECB and even for the actual euro zone member will increase. Since the extended euro zone will draw away from the status of optimum currency area, the costs of the monetary unification will increase for the new group as a whole (not only for the new members). Moreover, for the new euro zone, which is becoming more divergent, it will be very hard to find suitable monetary policy instruments for all. With reference to the second subject, the ECB will implement a new voting mechanism, but this will not solve the problem of having large economies with weak representation, and small economies that have strong representation in the Governing Council.

Keywords: EU enlargement, Euro zone, European Central Bank

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Romania’s Way towards Competitiveness

Andreea Vass

Abstract:
We want Romania to become a benchmark for our region, a center of clear competencies and a top reference exporter. Still, our integration in the global economy through the strategic partnership with the European Union has been built mainly on the cheap labor and low and medium-technology exports. Severe social problems have been solved by creating new jobs. Yet, these exports are low value added and have a small contribution to raising the living standard through high and lasting economic growth rates. There is definitely no place for further illusions. We have basically two options left:
– To compete globally with the Chinese dragon and the Indian elephant on the labour-intensive product markets, or
– To build a sound policy for attracting foreign direct investments (FDI) that may turn Romania from a spectator into an active player on the high-technology based global market.
Taking into account the perishable first option, we are left to play the second card. In other words, to achieve sustainable global competitiveness, Romania has no choice but to become a vibrant knowledge economy.
The last few years witnessed constant economic growth and adjustment of the strategic investors’ perception of risks. But I believe that Romania is still un undervalued asset. The reasons are gathered on three late bloomer pillars: economics, property rights and geo-strategic advantage. Romania is now in a position to cash in on its geo-strategic location, savvy foreign policy, abundance of natural resources, sound macroeconomic policies, skilled and still inexpensive labor force and the stock-market spectacular growth.

Keywords: competitivness, economic growth, foreign investment, Romania

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EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: What is the Legal Impact of Being Chartered?

Rufat R. Babayev

Abstract:
This paper argues that the Charter of Fundamental Rights brought innovations not only by structuring the human rights mechanisms of the European Union, but also by improving the existing international legal mechanisms for the protection of the human rights. A comparative analysis between the Charter of Fundamental Rights and European Convention of Human Rights is also presented in the paper. Comparing these two legal texts, the paper aims to determine whether the Charter competes with ECHR, aims to replace it or merely complements it. The human rights clause of EU conditionality policy plays a crucial role in raising the level of human rights protection and democratic development in the candidate states.

Keywords: candidate states, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, conditionality policy, European Convention of Human Rights

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European Dimension of National Parliaments in the European Union

Endre-Sandor Erdődi

Abstract:
The institutions of the member states have been changed in the European integration process through the transfer of a part of their political and economic competences to the European Union. The national parliaments made no exemptions from this rule, even if they did not observed the loss of sovereignity from the very beginning. But in the ’80 and in the post-Maastricht era they realised this phenomena and the related consequences. Since then we can observe a mobilisation of the national parliaments to exert an increased influence on the decision making process in the European Council and in the Council of the EU, in order to compensate their loss of competencies in the past.This article presents the main functions of the national parliaments and their role on European level and also tries to show the mecanisms by which they participate in defining european policies. Finally, some recommendations will be made related to the necessary measures to be taken by the Romanian Parliament in order to be an effective participant in the EU decision making process after the accession date.

Keywords: Council of the EU, European Council, national parliaments, sovereignity

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