Temperatures were approaching zero degrees Celsius yesterday on the Esplanade of the European Parliament in Brussels, when around 100 Romanians living abroad, or “The Diaspora” as they call us back home, gathered to entry the EP to meet with those whose decisions, some reckon, may still impact our destiny in Europe.
A first for me, having lived almost half of my life abroad though, this meeting of the Romanian Diaspora with RO officials, National and European Members of the Parliament was an unusual experience, but it appears the debate was much more vivid and folkloric than the next door High-level Conference on Clean Energy Financing. At least, the Romanian panel had a fair level of women speakers.
Country with now the highest rate of emigration after Syria, Romania has seen its population dramatically decreased to 19 million. “The Diaspora”, estimated at around 10 million people, remains the biggest capital investor in the country. Strong reason to push for the electronic vote at each and every political gathering.
Are We In or Out?
I learned that, as Romania is oddly experiencing the highest economic growth in EU this year, at about 4%, some of its nationals working abroad are considering returning home. A new ministry and other schemas are setting up to accompany them, though the national health system, the corruption in the public administration and a poor infrastructure remain the biggest barriers to their desire of repatriation. In addition, street demonstrations in Bucharest became common and today thousands of people continue their protest against planned changes to the judicial system.
And a serious societal concern, debated with emotions on Tuesday, was about what lies ahead the 300.000 children of Romanian parents working abroad, that are being left behind with very little counselling and state controlling. One may seriously fear the societal consequences of this overlooked phenomenon. Moreover, how these families, and others massively planning to leave the country, will be impacted by the implementation of the new EU Inter Company Transfer Directive (2014/66/EU) is still unknown, though many of the Eastern Europeans don’t see the current EP position eye to eye.
While some Romanians may hope for special greetings to return home, many others have seen the business opportunities and start-ups are flourishing in big cities. In a country in conflict with itself, we see as well a growing sense of civic and political entrepreneurship, though only 3% of the population is active in such initiatives to date.
And for many of us, whether living in or outside Romania, Europe has become our new home and we have embraced a new identity. We still love spending our holidays in Romania’s stunning landscapes, enjoy its awkward food and support Simona Halep wherever she competes in tennis tournaments across the EU, but we became Europeans more than remaining in the Romanian Diaspora.
Paving the #Road2Sibiu?
One more question remains open in the debate for me. While BBC strives at educating the Brits on Why Romanians are obsessed with garlic, I wonder how much of our tumult will pave the #Road2Sibiu for the EU Summit taking place in Sibiu on March 30, 2019 just one day after the triggering of the #Brexit Article 50.
More to follow …