Romania rides the second wave
The prospect of next month's European Commission decision on EU membership for Romania has concentrated the minds of the country's politicians and bankers. A flurry of reforms have been accompanied by an acceleration of privatization to get the country into shape for a 2007 accession target.
THE NEXT FEW months will provide key tests of the progress Romania has made in a long transition – from eastern Europe's most dysfunctional political economy in the 1980s, through a laggardly position in the regional reform process in the 1990s, to the prospect of acceding to the European Union in a few years' time.
In October, the European Commission, having long ago rejected Romania for entry in May this year, will decide whether or not to approve its application for accession in 2007.
The following month Romanians will go to the polls to elect a president and parliament. Then the government hopes to complete EU negotiations late this year – and sign an accession treaty in early 2005. If all goes according to plan, that is.
Continuity in the reform process suggests that most foreign investors favour the current centre left Social Democrat (PSD) government, under president Ion Iliescu and prime minister Adrian Nastase. But this matter is less of an issue than it might have been once because politics in Romania these days is relatively sedate. All parties – except the extremist PRM – are agreed on the need to join the EU, and as soon as possible.