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How can Romania refresh its EU image in 2013

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radu magdinThis article wishes to be more of a common sensical strategy than an oracle which confirms or not if we are beyond European hope; i.e. whether we are or not “different”. Romania has no reason to be “a different case” in the EU, but it is, for the moment, because of substantial issues (justice, Schengen, good administration – including EU funds) and form (deteriorated image in 2012). If, in 2013, Romania decides to stay “different”, it’s only its fault and the fault of the ones who govern it; if politicos cannot understand each other not even as regards the foreign arena (a minimum peace for the sake of our international reputation) it’s then a shared responsibility between the ones that run the government and the leaders of the opposition.

But let us focus on the solutions for refreshing our image in the European Union. This means Brussels, but also the national capitals. I propose we start with national capitals since it is shorter. First of all, we should realize that each member State has its own interests via which they see us. There can be political interests, economic one (foreign investment, bilateral trade) or strategic (if an alliance is useful or not). These interests should be carefully looked into in order to see with who and on what files we are compatible. In some dossiers, this will be the case for France, in others Spain and / or Italy, in others the Irish Presidency of the EU, in others Visegrad+ countries. What we need is a lucid analysis, beyond friendship. In fact, friendship in between nations must not be confused with a certain affinity (presumed for example between latin countries, or slav ones); friendship grows in time, and is blended with common interests. For example, can we become friends quickly with Germany, comparably to the traditional relationship with France? It’s possible, but not very probable. Anyway, Paris, Berlin, London, Rome, Warsaw -and other- are expecting from us at least a minimum predictability. European Partners would like to know what to aspect from us; if we surprise them, it should be for the better. At the same time, we should understand that we don’t have to be friends with everyone; not even understand each other perfectly or be pleasant to everyone. It suffices to be respected, and to have some strategic bridges on which we can go up with honor. This means also not being shown as an example to the class by the European Commission or EU States’ chanceries.

What can be done in Brussels? This is a bit more complicated since “Brussels” is something generic that expresses different interests, in continuous movement. Beyond state interests – expressed primarily in the Council – there are “in town” business interests, associations, federations, civil society, and also other two big institutional actions (separately from the already mentioned Council). They are often quoted in Romania: the European Parliament and the European Commission. Managing well Romania’s relationship with the EC and the EP is key. First of all, it’s pretty awkward for a Member State to be the object of an EP resolution pointing out to democratic problems in your country; others have been through this, Hungary and Italy for example, but it surely isn’t a title of glory. Second, just as awkward is to get slaps from the EC periodically. The irony is that both resolutions and a lot of the inquiries addressed to the European Commission are started at a national level. The typical screenplay is that the opposition complains that life is difficult and the government is evil and goes to the Brussels Gates to save itself, preferably together with the country. Then, once in power, the former opposition gets the same treatment, symmetrically, from the new “vengeful” opposition. Magic; but the circus has to be stopped by somebody responsible.

The first step in refreshing our image in Brussels is to stop laundering our clothes in public. Otherwise, we shall always be seen as a second hand country – if you can’t solve your own problems, why would you be a good partner for common issues? Bluntly put, even European political families are sick and tired to intervene in local fights for their political partners, being invoked periodically in internal politics. Swoboda, Daul, Verhofstadt, as well as their counterparts from European political parties, have other things to do than analyse the latest evolutions in Bucharest. Whoever doubts this is invited to check the EP’s (increasingly busy) and EU agendas: a struggling eurozone, a continued crisis, jobless youngsters, unsustainable pensions system and so on – surely Romania’s issues are not Europe’s main priority …

As regards the second step, we should be in the center of Brussels debates, at least of the ones that are of interest for us. Actively present, not just present, not just “aligned to the consensus”, so  that we can be taken seriously as a rule, not an exception. This means monitoring interests -important for negotiations- but also a lot of networking at all levels – alliances are key. Diplomats can be (very) active, but politics should follow them with quick steps. We need an involved HR, on the substance and the form, at all levels. In the end, when you have 27 national interests at the table, only the best manage to stay till the very end. We are not necessarily more beautiful or smarter than others. Maybe we have more olympians, too bad they leave the country. Do we have potential? Yes, but this potential has to be valued, and a proper attitude is needed in this sense, doubled by work, will, strategy. Otherwise, the title of “the 7th country in the EU” will be empty of substance.

If 2013 will be the year of a Romanian charm offensive in the EU, we shall wait and see. But in order to refresh our image and strengthen our basis, like one of our jokes says: “we should start organising”. For the beginning, one needs will, a plan and two victories: one in Brussels (a Romanian proposal in terms of EU policies that attracts a “wow”, in a good sense) respectively an internal progress in a key area, whether we are talking about fund absorption or the anti-corruption fight, or something else of importance. This double victory would mark a qualitative step forward, internally and externally, and would transform Romania in a reliable partner. We would stop being “different”.

Radu Magdin is CEO of SmartLink Communications. He worked for 5 years in Brussels, at the European Parliament and the private sector. He is passionate for EU affairs and an advocate of a strong Romania in the European Union.

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VirtualCall – m-Training for Inactive Women Aiming their Employment as Call Center Agents at their Homes

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INCSMPS implements, together with 5 EU countries, the ERASMUS+ project VirtualCall- m-Training for Inactive Women Aiming their Employment as Call Center Agents at their Homes (2020-1-TR01-KA202-094553 “Erasmus+ Project”) aiming “to e-train inactive women for their e-employment as call center representatives, to work from their homes”.

The training concept also includes e-stage possibility for efficient and complete result achievement. After such a program, individuals will be ready to start working, without needing extra steps.

The MAIN OBJECTIVE is “to increase the employability of inactive women in a profitable scheme for both employee and employer, under current market conditions”. 

OUTPUT: Integrated e-Training and e-Stage portal supported by Android APP will allow future call center representatives to be e-trained and practice by means of calling each other and simulating clients in changing roles. Grading/rating anonymously and repetition of e- learning modules depending on the strengths/weaknesses, re-studying while repeating e-courses and similar features will bring the possibility of satisfactory self-evaluation before starting to actual work. 

IMPACT: After having this kind of e-training and e-stage opportunity, home-based employment possibility for inactive women will not be a dream any more. Thus, this will surely open a new challenging door for inactive women, including women with physical disabilities; for them to work from their homes and integrate themselves into labor market. 

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MEP Vasile Blaga: It’s vital that Romania continues to implement regional and local programmes through the EU cohesion package

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MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) welcomes the positive vote of the Council of the European Union for the Cohesion Package 2021-2027 worth €330 billion, of which Romania will benefit from around €28 billion.

“The European Union’s main investment programme is cohesion policy. As far as Romania is concerned, the cohesion funds must continue to finance the development gaps between the older Member States and those that have integrated later. It is vital that Romania continues to implement regional and local programmes. At the same time, investments financed by the cohesion funds will to a large extent also ensure recovery from the pandemic, alongside the funds specifically earmarked through the NRDP”, said the NLP MEP for the news platform Calea Europeana.

According to MEP Vasile Blaga, “the two funding programmes must be complementary, both having sustainable objectives – from infrastructure funding to green transition and digitalisation projects”.

”The European Parliament will now vote on the Council’s position before it is published in the Official Journal of the European Union in June, most likely during the plenary session in Strasbourg”, added the EPP MEP.

The Council gave its final green light to the adoption of the cohesion package for the financial period 2021-2027.

The package is a set of regulations governing the structural and investment funds, which amount to more than €330 billion (in 2018 prices) or nearly one third of the EU’s long-term budget. The funds will finance regional and local projects designed to reduce economic and social disparities between member states and regions, while boosting a sustainable recovery from the pandemic by investing in green and digital priorities.

 

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Europe Day. MEP Vasile Blaga: EU solidarity in the face of the pandemic has proved that this project is the only option for Romania’s present and future

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© Vasile Blaga/Facebook

9 May is a double anniversary, Romania’s Independence Day and Europe Day, two fundamental milestones for Romania, said MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP), in a message for Europe Day.

”We honour the past of our country which, on 9 May 1877, gained independence. We celebrate, also today, 9 May 1950 – the Schuman declaration which laid the foundations of the European Union,” he said.

“I would like each of us to ask ourselves a simple question: Where would we be now without integration into the European Union. What would this particularly turbulent period have looked like in Romania outside the EU? The Union’s solidarity in the face of the pandemic has proved to everyone that this project is strong, solid, and the only option for Romania’s present and future. I would like every Romanian who still has a trace of Euroscepticism to ask themselves these questions. They have only one answer – Romania is Europe – in the past, present, and future”, added the Romanian MEP.

Europe Day held on 9 May every year celebrates peace and unity in Europe. The date marks the anniversary of the historic ‘Schuman declaration‘. At a speech in Paris in 1950, Robert Schuman, the then French foreign minister, set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable.

His vision was to create a European institution that would pool and manage coal and steel production. A treaty creating such a body was signed just under a year later. Schuman’s proposal is considered to be the beginning of what is now the European Union.

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