Anchoring European countries in the community structure requires a lot of specialists, active both in Brussels and in the capitals. The European construction has mainly an institutional dimension, but civil society and particularly the business sector are actively involved in recent developments.
Experts say there is a very pronounced corporate lobby in Brussels, as well as a big NGO activists lobby. The most powerful lobby, however, is the lobby of the Member States. How can Romania put itself on the map?
Here are some conclusions of a conference which was recently held "What is the Romanian influence in EU-Brussels?", organized in Brussels, at the premises of the EPP Group in the European Parliament (MEP Ramona Manescu hosted the meeting) by SNSPA, the Centre for EU Communication Studies, and GrupRomania Brussels.
The debate was focused on two key themes: Romanian human resources allocated to European policies, and mechanisms of interaction of Romania to the European Union. Experts gathered at the European Parliament to discuss concrete projects, and to reflect on how other EU countries optimize their mechanism.
Referring to the human resources needed in this process there is a first list of measures that can be shared with input from the participants:
- To cope with the workload, Romania must quickly improve and double their institutional human resources involved in the mechanism of connecting the country to the EU. This can be done only by launching a new government program, similar to the one launched in 2002 for the EU pre-accession period (Euro-experts programme). Through this mechanism the expertise in the different ministries can be strengthened, but one should also think about the regional institutions.
- Romania must strengthen the representation of the Romanian private sector in Brussels, Europe’s legislator. Given the particularities of the Romanian economy, the Romanian government should be involved in finding co-financing schemes. A solution that seems convenient is the French model that works perfectly as support for French corporations.
- We need a coherent strategy for Romanians to reach the secretariats of the EU federations, as well as thematic working groups specific to each federation in order to have a stronger presence in the flowcharts of these structures.
- It is imperative that there is an annual meeting of the members of the Romanian government with senior officials of the European institutions (from Head of Unit upwards), in an informal setting and preferably in Bucharest. This will facilitate a direct exchange of views on priorities and positions of the two systems.
Participants also established a concrete mechanism to address European issues in Romania:
- Return to the profound meaning of accession to the EU: "to extract the strengths and this is not just European funds";
- Identifying real issues that Romania has in the European context;
- Pair Romanian experts on these topics;
- Establishing an appropriate strategy to promote these issues in the European sphere.
Other ideas expressed by the participants:
- The whole algorithm of Romania's influence in EU starts with Romanian performance in the Council. You must clearly know the rules. 85% of decisions are taken by the working groups.
- Isolation is not good in the EU. We must find alliances in order to develop applications or to block hostile initiatives.
- The Council works in terms of policy, with clear objectives.
- The Council has a consensual approach.
- The Permanent Representation of Romania to the EU plays a decisive role.
- One of Romania’s problems is that there are no ministers at the Council meetings.
- 2015 is the time to identify Romanian themes to promote during the EU Presidency in 2019.
- In Germany, the Foreign Ministry supports specific organizations, such as European Movement to consolidate stakeholder positions in European policies.
- Romania does not have a critical mass of lobbyists in Brussels.
- There is still a need for human resource specialists in European policies from Romania in the Community institutions.
- There is an initiative to introduce a code of occupation in Romania for "experts in the EU".
- Romania does not know what the current priorities are of the European policy experts.
- In Romania there is a temporary legislative framework for the involvement of stakeholders, but the mechanism of consultation should be permanent.
- It is difficult to compare the economic profile of the Romanian corporations with the German ones, but in certain sectors Romania can and should do more and better.
The event in Brussels is only a starting point in developing ideas for a more connected and influential Romanian Europe.
Dan LUCA / Brussels