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Postponing Integration Into The European Union:

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Upon independence in 1864, the Eastern European country of Romania has battled with political conflicts, economic hardships, internal strife, and the influence of foreign powers. Becoming a puppet government of the Soviet Union after World War II, Romania spent forty-two years under the grasp of Communism and the oppressive dictator Nicholae Ceausescu. When the iron curtain rose across Eastern Europe, Romania began a violent and challenging transition to a democratic form of government in 1989. With the fall of Communism, the world also experienced a rise in size, power and influence of the European Union. Membership in the EU has provided a great number of benefits for its member countries while the non-members, mainly Eastern European countries like Romania, seek to join the Union as quickly as possible.

While dealing with the difficult transition to democracy, Romania also faces the daunting task of developing aspects of the country to abide to the necessary guidelines for EU accession. Currently, Romania is set to join the Union in January of 2007. Recently though, the EU has faced many inhibiting and grave problems, such as a lack of confidence in the institutions, an overburden of duties, and difficulties integrating the ten countries that were granted membership in 2004. Romania also exhibits impediments in the areas necessary for entrance into the Union.

This paper will analyze the changes Romania needs to make regarding its economy, including the agricultural industry, foreign investment policies, trade policies, human rights legislation, and corruption. It will then discuss the current state of the European Union. From this analysis, it will draw conclusions on whether the 2007 date for integration should be upheld.

Historical Background Like many former Communist countries, Romania's past plays a pivotal role as the basis for its struggles today. In the two decades following the cessation of the Second World War, a series of societal and governmental changes took place which significantly tainted the country's repute. The Communists installed a puppet regime in 1945, developing a totalitarian society in which they claimed that the state held explicit control over all aspects of society, from the economy to religion and even family. When Nicholae Ceausescu came into power in 1966, he consolidated his power into a tyrannical dictatorship. Under his strict policies and rule, the country developed into a tightly closed society and faced extreme repression and international isolation. The fall of Communism across Eastern Europe, as well as Romania's enormous foreign debt, failing economy, and failing industries, inspired Romania's people to rise against Ceausescu and his repressive rule. The dictator was executed on December 25, 1989, and the National Salvation Front took over rule of Romania, beginning the first stages towards democracy. Communism left Romania with a lack of democratic infrastructure in law, business, politics, and the police, as well as a lack of knowledge on how to run a democratic and free country. Consequently, the legacy of Communism in Romania has created many challenges to the democratic transition.

Challenges to the Transition to Democracy The transition from Communism to democracy, with initial violence and social upheaval, has not been easy for Romania and its inhabitants. The leaders of the revolution set forth platforms aiming for a new constitution that developed a multiparty system with free elections. These platforms were intended to restructure the economy to form a pro-European foreign policy and to observe human and minority rights. Romania has experienced challenges in achieving these platforms. Its progression throughout recent history, from an inefficient democratic rule to a dictatorship and now a weak democratic rule tainted by Ceausescu's past failures, has caused a lack of faith in political institutions and a lack of political judgment in Romania's citizens. One of the major stumbling blocks that democracy has faced is the population's nostalgia of Communism. Many citizens "express a preference for an authoritarian, iron-fisted leadership" and the need for a more centralized form of government. Since the fall of Communism, the standard of living for most of the population has not improved significantly. The increasing rate of inflation and devaluation of money makes it harder for people to buy basic necessities. The citizens see the new stores and malls, which capitalism brought to them, full of goods they can not afford to buy. Their envy leads them to dream of the "good old days" under communism, when everyone (more theoretically than in reality) had a job and could afford basic items to live on. This way of thinking is mostly a smoke screen though√ź'--the people already forget about the long lines they waited in for hours to buy a kilo of sugar or a liter of cooking oil, the lack of any elementary freedom of speech and property ownership, or living under the menacing watch of the domineering secret police. They do not realize that the transition to democracy takes time, patience, and dedication. Hindering the process even further is the pre-existing ethnic tensions in the country that have led to intense party rivalry, suspicion, and sensitivity√ź'--a problem Romania attempts to ignore. These two encumbrances pose a concerning threat to the progress of the democratic transition.

Description of the EU The European Union, made up of twenty-five European countries, has been very instrumental in bringing peace and prosperity to Europe. Developed after World War II to economically unite Europe and prevent another war, the EU has created a single market of goods, services, people, and capital between member countries while evolving into one of the world's largest trading and economic partners. Since the fall of Communism, the Union has developed closer relationships with Central and Eastern European countries, including Romania, who have worked to achieve membership. Presently, Romania still needs to make many economic, political, and social developments in order to abide to the strict member guidelines of the EU. The country faces challenges on the areas of economic competition and antitrust, agriculture, foreign investment, trade, human rights, and corruption.

Romania's Economy Romania's weak economy poses a major challenge to its possible membership in the European Union. The European Community's 2000 report on Romania stated that "Romania cannot be regarded as a functioning market economy and is not able to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union in the medium term." For this situation to change, Romania must enhance its economy in a number of ways. Using the guide of the EU's White Paper,

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