Romania celebrated on January 1st 10 years since joining the EU.
Officials in Bucharest have marked the 10-year anniversary since Romania’s joining the European Union with statements and events. The long path towards accession started in 1993, when Romania signed, on February 1st, the association agreement with the member countries. This agreement acknowledged Romania's objective of becoming a member of the Union, with financial and technical assistance from Brussels. Two years later, in Paris, in an official ceremony, the then foreign minister, Teodor Melescanu, submitted Romania's official application to join the EU. A Foreign Ministry press release states that Romania's EU accession ten years ago is a moment with historic significance, marking the return to the democratic world, as well as the country's becoming a fully-fledged decision maker as a member state of the European Union. In the ten years since, Romania dealt with major changes, all to the benefit of Romanian citizens, according to Leonard Orban, the first Romanian European Commissioner, between 2007 and 2010. He said “The direction we are going in is beneficial, allowing us to become stronger as a state, allowing Romanian citizens to be more and more prosperous, secure and optimistic with regard to their future”.
European MP Dan Claudiu Frunzulica said in an interview with RRI that the first ten years paint a positive picture: “Romania has become part of an organization that is important for European cohesion, stability and development. Think of the four great freedoms that the EU grants its citizens, as well as to the European business environment. Freedom of movement for citizens and freedom of circulation for capital, services and goods. Romania gained all these, not to mention European development funds, which the country, unfortunately, has not accessed to the extent it should have, but we express confidence that this may be done in the future.”
According to the Eurostat, Romania's GDP has grown from 98 billion Euro in 2006, right before the accession, to 160 billion in 2015. In these 10 years, Romania got 39.8 billion Euro from the Union, and contributed 13.7 billion to its budget. The biggest advantage of integration is European funding, meant to help with the country's development and bridging the gap with other EU states. Romania has not managed to absorb all the funds allocated by Brussels, remaining at the bottom of the list in that regard. Former PM Dacian Ciolos, a European Commissioner in charge of agriculture between 2010-2014, said that ten years in the EU mean for Romania ten years of growth, development, and consolidating democracy.
In a video posted on the facebook page of the European Commission's representation in Romania, he said: “For people in Romania, you can tell they have been in the EU for ten years, starting with the young people who can travel for studies abroad, ending with the mayor who managed to built a better road for the people of his village”.
Recalling his tenure as a European Commissioner, Dacian Ciolos said that it was during that time that the common agricultural policy was reformed. As he said, “I made it look more like what Romania and Romanians, among other things, need in order to develop their agriculture and rural environment. I realized that the most efficient way of developing Romania as part of the European Union is to be able to have this opening and experience which clearly enriches us, and makes us, Romanians, more aware of our potential and more confident in what we can do as a country within the EU.”
The European Commissioner Corina Cretu believes that Romanians deserve equal rights within the EU, and better opportunities for a better life. She said: “These have been ten years of growth and development, of efforts, sacrifice, but also achievements. Romania has become a point of stability in the region, and an engine for economic growth. After these ten years in which European integration has become a success for all ordinary Romanians, but also the Romanian state, what follows are additional steps on our European path, which has to be followed further”.
We asked European MP Dan Claudiu Frunzulica what the future is for Romania in the EU: “For Romania, the EU is an anchor in terms of security, in addition to economic, social and cultural terms. In the last few years, the EU has been strengthening its common security and defense policy, which should lead to autonomy in these terms, but also in close collaboration with NATO. Romania has to improve its position within the EU. With its well trained citizens, it can take over important positions within the EU in the future”.
In terms of objectives, Bucharest plans to attract more and more European funds for development projects, to join Schengen, and to adopt the Euro for its currency.