Tag Archive: Romania

A Breath of Fresh Air from the Eastern EU

In the midst of EU economic turmoil roiling from the Greek economic crisis and the systemic corruption that led up to and is arguably responsible for it (also discussed by the Task Force for Financial Integrity and Economic Development) Monica Macovei, Romanian MEP to the European Parliament and former Romanian Minister of Justice, offers a refreshing new perspective from the East.  Since being elected to the European Parliament in 2009, Macovei has directed her long-time focus of working to curb corruption at the national level to her newest post at the EU level in Brussels. Her varied leadership positions such as, for example, anti-corruption adviser to the Macedonian Prime Minister, trainer with the European Commission (TAIEX) in the fight against corruption and judicial reform in EU candidate countries, expert on judicial reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Council of Europe, and founding member of the Romanian Chapter of Transparency International, indicate her breadth and depth of experience with regard to anti-corruption measures in her home country and region.

Now, as a Romanian MEP, Macovei has continued her work to fight corruption at the level of the European Parliament and has done so with resounded support and success.  Last year, Macovei spearheaded, gained overwhelming support for and ultimately saw to the European Commission’s adoption of the EU’s Resolution to fight corruption (B7-0481/2011). This anti-corruption Resolution runs the gamut in terms of addressing corruption at the EU level, highlighting that corruption is “an area of particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension”, which is listed by Article 83 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and recognizing that corruption “undermines the rule of law” and “hampers the economic recovery of Member States hit by the economic and financial crisis.” (B7-0481/2011).  The Resolution calls on the European Commission to move forward with and implement a number of obligations that it had previously agreed to, such as implementing the OECD’s Convention on combatting bribery of foreign officials and meeting its obligations under the UN Convention Against Corruption.  Finally, the Resolution calls on the Commission to highlight the fight against corruption by putting it on the security agenda for future years.

One can surmise from looking at the number of types of corruption that the Resolution addresses, as well as the strong support it received from the European Parliament when it was passed (see video discussion), that corruption is recognized as a problem that crosses national borders and affects not just Member states with a reputation for corruption, but the greater group as well.  This Resolution is a first step towards tackling at the EU level a problem that has shown itself to be both pervasive and crippling for all parties involved.

The EU’s Involvement in France’s Roma Row

The French government has continued to generate considerable controversy over its eviction of Gypsies (known as Roma) from their makeshift camps throughout the country. At least five camps in the Paris area have been demolished as well as camps in Lyon and Lille. The French raids have left hundreds of Roma, including many children, homeless after many of their possessions were seized and no arrangements for temporary housing were made. Human Rights Watch estimates that the number of Eastern European Roma in France has remained stable at around 15,000 despite the expulsions. Many of the Roma do not speak French and are highly distrustful of the government stemming from a long history of discrimination. The last major Roma eviction in France occurred in 2010 when many Roma were evicted to Romania and Bulgaria. The 2010 evictions resulted in sanctions by the European Commission. During the recent presidential campaign, President Francois Hollande had promised that any evictions would include the promise of “alternative solutions.” Critics, however, argue that alternative solutions have not been offered. The Socialist government defends the latest eviction efforts by arguing that demolitions are necessary for public health and safety. Indeed, most of the camps lack electricity and running water.

Despite serious concerns over discrimination and freedom of movement, the EU remains seemingly unresponsive in dealing with the situation. The EU claims that it is closely monitoring the situation to ensure that the evictions are consistent with the EU’s rules regarding the free movement of people. France’s Interior Ministry claims that the camps were demolished in accordance with EU legal guidelines. The 2010 evictions of the Roma led to deeper poverty and worse conditions than before. In addition, the 2010 evictions reinforced a climate of fear and intimidation felt by many Roma communities.

Recent Finnish Resistance to European Union Actions

A recent Forbes article addresses Finnish resistance to actions taken by the European Union. Specifically, the Finnish government has opposed expansion of the Schengen Area (an agreement that provides for borderless movement between certain Member States) and has been highly conservative in the approach towards the Greek debt crisis.

Finnish European Union representatives opposed the inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen Area, because of their belief that there is too much organized crime and corruption within Romania and Bulgaria. These criticisms are more than merely political as the attacks rely on core European Union values as promulgated in the Copenhagen Criteria.

Perhaps most important is Finnish resistance to a plan aimed at rescuing the Greek government from overwhelming debt. The Finnish government is adamant that it receive collateral from the Greek government before it agrees to to any bailout. While Finland reached such an agreement with Greece, other Member States which have adopted the Euro are equally as adamant that any concerns about collateral be decided together.

A recent poll evidences a euroskeptic sentiment as only thirty-seven percent of Finnish nationals expressed satisfaction with the European Union. At the very least, these recent divisions between Finland and other Member States threaten the unity of the European Union–a unity which is critical to its strength and longevity.

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