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The spring of our discontent. What is bothering the EU about us?

by Andreea Marinas

Concerned that the EU might be “turning a blind eye” to Romania’s shortcomings? Don’t be! Us, the flawed, we are always keeping our closet full of surprises and the EU knows it.

When thinking it’s all for the better, the European Commission offers the least expected awakening coffee, reminding us how the reality sucks in our country which is so grappling mostly with the unmet needs of the economic sector. Why we choose to focus on the matters that help “a lot” instead of moving forward with the right decisions at the right time, no one knows. It’s like allotting 15 minutes in prime time for the divorce of Vanessa Trump and only 1 minute to the piece of news on how a thoughtful and caring American has designed some expandable shoes for the growing needy kids in Kenya who often run out of shoes as their families are so poor that can’t afford to buy new ones. Or, not right away.

So, the annual country report of the European Commission, published last week, is forcing us to bear the criticisms among which that the supply of labor and skills does not keep up with the changing needs of the economic sector, the degree of poverty is on the rise, and income inequality remains at a high level.

Still, Romania is not the black sheep all the time, nor is it on all the sectors. “Employment continued to rise in 2017, and the unemployment rate has reached one of the lowest levels in the last 20 years,” highlights the report.

The high volume of public expenditure not reflected in the state of the infrastructure and the low performance of the education system limits Romania’s development prospects, is one of the EU’s sad conclusions with regards to our country. Research and innovation are fields of great importance and are hardly visible or existent in our country, the EU also warns. There has been no progress in terms of minimum wage, retirement age and fiscal framework either.

These are not the only critics received since the ringing bells and the colored lights went off. Human Rights Without Frontiers brought up, in January, the “lack of fair trials and deplorable prison conditions” prevalent in Romania.

Also, a report by the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption agency, GRECO, said Romania has made little progress against corruption across state institutions in 2017.

At the same time, Transparency International says Romania is outstripping almost all of the European Union’s states in terms of corruption. So, yes, it’s all for the better, “while the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing”. Or, how the belated Stephen Hawking was saying, on an imperfect world, back in 2010: “Without imperfection, you or I would not exist”.

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