European interest is out of breath for several reasons: great expectations that go unfulfilled (from European money to freedom of labor in all EU countries); the loss of magic of the European project in the absence of pragmatic communication on European issues, and because of negative news flow such as those related to the crisis in the Eurozone and Schengen. But the European heart can beat again in a normal rhythm for the Romanians if some changes occur in the coming months, changes that divulge a new direction to address European issues in Romania.
Firstly, it is necessary to demystify the process of European integration with an explanation, simple and clear, about the way "Brussels” works. It is very important to explain the narrative that we are part of “Brussels”, not just a baby which is agitated and scolded on a regular basis for reasons of corruption, management of European funds or the Schengen file. It means we can negotiate, which means that we can be a stronger, and more active member state.
Secondly, it is important to communicate successes of winning European funds. It is necessary that the process is restarted: it's important for Romanians to understand that you really need projects, that money does not just appear, but it comes at a time when it complies with European procedures. The key word is organization, not discouragement. It's also important to translate the successes, as well as "n+3" so people understand what they actually entail: we enjoy one more year of money than we expected.
Thirdly, we need an offensive image of the country to Europe. It wouldn’t just be beneficial for investments but also for our background image, which is directly related to our influence in Europe. Influence means that you talk with European partners on an equal footing, and not being put on the defensive because of the crime and other factors that add to a negative image of Romania. This can help to give additional weight in for example political negotiations, the Schengen file, and advancing Moldova's European path (shared by many others).
Finally, an important mission that goes beyond government communications is for the new team of candidates in the European elections in May 2014. Next year's elections for the European Parliament are an opportunity that Romanian parties should not miss. This is a chance, that comes by only once every few years, to make a campaign not based on personal attacks or a referendum campaign on the quality of governance, but one aimed at creating hope and confidence by bringing European issues on the radar of public interest.
Better a leader in Brussels than a slacker at home!
Dan LUCA / Brussels