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March 31, 2023

The adventure of regionalisation

The last few months witnessed an escalation of the increasingly unpredictable rallies aimed either to support, or to oppose the cyanide mining of gold at Rosia Montana and of shale gas. As usually in such situations, the rulers of all political orientations backtrack and “change the tune.” This means that they find new things to divert public attention towards, such as the recently resurrected (for how many times?) matter of the regionalisation of Romania. But the “arguments” used by politicians with this regard prove to be not only wrong, but plainly mystified. Initially, Romania’s territorial reorganisation by transforming the 41 counties into some 8 regions was presented as being a directive of the EU, implicitly as the best solution for Romania to access European funds, a chapter where our country holds the last place in the EU.
The “argument” collapsed after the EU announced that the territorial organisation of the country is exclusively to be decided by the Romanian state. Plus, Bucharest authorities recently assured that the accessing of European funds has increased of late. Why? Due to the rigorousness of Romanian projects, so unrelated to regionalisation.
Today, the adepts of this regionalisation invoke it as a weapon against bureaucracy. Same as corruption, bureaucracy and other organisation deficits indeed hold a sad precedence in the Romanian society. The solution does not reside into the territorial regionalisation, but the solidarity of ruling factors. Regardless of their political affiliation, they have the supreme duty to show solidarity in solving the problems of strategic national importance. Instead of this necessary political solidarity on topics of national strategic importance, often encountered today in countries like Germany, France, in the very organisation structure of the EU, Romanian politicians change their positions overnight, only for the sake of formal – and ridiculous – opposition. This explains the support provided, two years ago, by the ruling parties of those years for the cyanide mining of gold at Rosia Montana, while today, in opposition, the same parties are against this project. Meanwhile, those who made the opposition back then now support the controversial plans. Who can understand anything in the “reasoning” of our rulers? The scientific arguments and the moral stance are not part of their regular interests. Their only interest is personal profit, no matter its source and long-term consequences.
And this indifference, with serious criminal implications, which are rapidly dissimulated, also results from the fact that many of our ruling politicians lack the capacities of synthesis and scientific prediction. If these politicians strolled less and learned more, they would understand why the regionalisation of Romania conducted in 1950 at the order of Stalin inflated the bureaucracy, egotism and abusive attitude of administrators, which are precisely the issues blamed by our present rulers on the counties of today. The old region seats had become some sort of feuds, targeted by the discontentment and reproach of nearby zones. In this context, the inhabitants of Braila accused the “feud” of Galati, those in Oltenia accused the “feud” of Craiova a.s.o. Let alone the former Hungarian Autonomous Region, made of the present counties of Mures, Covasna and Harghita, where the ethnic Romanian population was in minority and subject to an intense denationalisation.
Lacking the sense of historic retrospective, our rulers are also deprived of the forecasting, anticipation capacity. They ignore that the current level of economic development differs significantly from one county to another. As the Romanian industry – with its relatively even territorial distribution – disappeared during the last two decades, zonal discrepancies increased at a steady pace. By forming the 8 regions, these discrepancies will increase up to the level when better developed regions, mostly because of their natural conditions, will tend towards a different economic and social, even political correlations. Hence the danger of federalisation, a deadly risk for the Romanian state. When the media evoke this peril, the politicians living in Romania (not those of Romania!) defend the weakness of their arguments by invoking the federalism of Germany and of other EU states. “Why cannot we be like them?” the interlocutor suddenly asks in an arrogant voice?
The answer is simple and precise. It was provided some time ago, in a debate hosted by the German Cultural Centre of Bucharest, a world famous German specialist, Ph.D. Professor Honoris Causa Hans-Peter Schneider, the director of the Institute for the Research of Federalism, belonging to the University of Hannover. This illustrious specialist shocked the pretended elites of Bucharest, adept of federalism, by saying that federalism is not good during times of transition and crisis, when centrifugal tendencies should be avoided and centralised solidarity is advisable. History demonstrates that the sense of evolution is from federalism to national states and any reversal of this sense leads to chaos. As a consequence, the EU cannot be the expected federation, because the existing nation-states and unitary states preserve and carry forward an identity that does not allow estrangement tendencies. Romanians were thus invited by this famous researcher of federalism to refrain from resorting to foreign models, because these actually do not exist.
The germs of contradictions proper to federalism can be seen today in the very conditions of the regionalisation. The motivation of this regionalisation is frequently laid under the sign of administrative decentralisation. But what kind of decentralisation can results from transforming 41 counties into 8 regions? No matter how much freedom of action might be granted to the 8 regions, doesn’t the very existence of one sole prefect or governor atop of them fuel the risk of oligarchic and undemocratic decisions? Of supercentralised decisions? From the perspective of the idea of administrative decentralisation, embraced by the majority of Romanian parties, turning the 41 counties into 8 regions is an obvious contradiction in terms, extremely dangerous because – let’s say – removing clinics and polyclinics from the unitary system of the state and placing them under the authority of regional structures will result in as many levels of the health state as regions in Romania.
Discrimination in the health sector and in the access to top education today are crimes against humanity, which cannot be prescribed. Take care, you rulers who favour the territorial regionalisation conducted through emergency government decisions! Such a decision, made without a strictly necessary consultation under the form of a national referendum, is a crime!

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