marți, 28 mai 2013

EU partnership: Romania - Germany

In 2011, Mr. Lazar Comanescu, the current ambassador of Romania to Berlin, explained to me the importance of an active Romanian representation in Germany with strong rebound of joint activity into the European Union.

The conclusion of the intense debate on the future of European institutions, held on multiple levels, was that Germany needs the European Union. Therefore, many important decisions are taken in Berlin, the capital which is the engine that is currently pushing EU policy. Germany's election campaign for the 2014 EP elections already seems different from the 2009 elections. One can now speak of leaders who will personalize the election process.

The private sector in Germany follows the developments in EU legislation with great interest, trying to intervene by carrying out powerful lobby strategies. German members of European industrial federations in Brussels have a loud voice.

Favorable positioning of the country in a European level is supported by thoughtful policy making. The first lesson we can draw from Germany's dual education system. It goes beyond general educational as it focusses on vocational practice and employers as well. Big companies such as Mercedes-Benz have up to 2,000 annual apprenticeships, of which most continue to work for the company. Performing good in the field of technology, and excelling in reliability, Germany offers another lesson - do not jump into risky transactions.

In Brussels, I teach courses to German students on how to "decode" European Affairs. Although the faculty only focusses on journalism and business, those who have completed the first year of their academic curricula realize the importance of European Affairs. Therefore, second year students spend a month in Brussels, where they study the community mechanism intensively.

Let’s turn our focus to the relationship between Germany and Romania - one of the most developed and complex relations between Romania and any EU member state. In the context of Romanian-German economic relations, German companies have stressed the importance of investments in the Romanian economy. Germany has strengthened its position among the top economic partners of Romania from year to year.

On the other hand, the growth rate of Romanian exports to the German market was at the highest among all EU member states in 2011.

The German government has liberalized the labor market from 1 January 2012 for certain categories of workers from Romania. In Germany there are currently 142,880 Romanian citizens, according to the Federal Office for Statistics (only those who hold Romanian citizenship are included in those statistics, not Romanians with other nationalities).

The potential of Germany is appreciated, including on the national level. A recent survey from INSCOP highlighted that 77% of Romanians interviewed, have positive feelings towards Germany. Germany is by far the top country compared to attitudes towards neighboring countries: Bulgaria (37%), Ukraine (32%) and Hungary (31%).

Germany is not as affected by the European crisis as other member states, so for the moment there aren’t any have problems with public support for the European project, but surprises can happen in the near future.

Dan LUCA / Brussels

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