Politics & The World

          by Cristian Mihai Lazăr.

In the last year Romania has inarguably found itself in a most decisive period for its future as a state. The importance derives from the internal politics that are outlined especially after the last elections, the parliamentary elections on December 11. Roughly one year after the protests that followed the tragedy of the Colectiv club (which resulted in 64 deaths), the protests which swept down a political government and consequently led to the establishment of a technocratic government, both for the legislature and the executive, it was now imperative the regain the political and popular legitimacy. This could not have been achieved in any other way except through the prism of democratic elections.

The campaign for this year’s legislative election was dull, lifeless and did not generate any collective emotions. Of course, the candidates were mainly responsible for this situation, but also a new electoral law was among the reasons as well – a law that is very rigid regarding the operations and financial expenses that can be conducted during the campaign. In comparison, ‘on the other side of the coin’ are the campaigns that are conducted in the USA, which are characterized by huge campaign budgets and popular entertainment aspects. Besides the two traditional political parties PSD (Social Democratic Party) and PNL (National Liberal Party) in competition for the confidence of voters, not even the new political parties (most of them having old personalities) managed to attract a substantial number of Romanians to vote. Speaking about the categories of voters: on the 11th of December the young people, unlike in the presidential elections when there was a massive presence of the youth which made the difference in the final outcome, this time they remained indifferent and less willing to vote. With a lack of a collective emotion and surprises, the elections confirmed what was already outlined: a predictable victory for the left wing. Nevertheless, the proportions were surprising.

After the political left lost the power last year in consequence to the public revolt which swept down the social-democratic Prime Minister, the PSD and the left wing parties secured a crushing victory receiving 45.47% of the total votes. We can observe that the victory of the Romanian political left wing was in accordance with the trend that already had formed in the East and South of Romania (as well as in both the Republic of Moldavia and in Bulgaria the left wing parties have achieved victory in last month’s elections). We can speak about a remarkable comeback, after the consequences of last year’s protests when the confidence in the party has decreased incredibly and the former Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, became prosecuted for corruption (an accusation which he denied). Nonetheless, the withdrawal from the government a year ago and the appointment of a cabinet of technocrats were a political-saving solution. In this way, the PSD basically managed to be at the same time in opposition and in government, keeping the key positions in the state both at local and central levels. Permanently, the socialists showed themselves hostile to the technocratic government, blocking any measure or attempt to reform a politicized administration. The “triumphing march” of these elections was also assured by the demagogic voracity and populist irresponsibility seen in some parts of the promoted government program. In brief, if the PSD program becomes reality, Romania would witness salary and pension increases, the elimination of half of existing taxes, a gigantic hospital built in the capital of Romania, new regional hospitals and no less than five new highways (it was not said when will it happen though, we shall see).

Managing this election victory won´t be easy, especially because the problem of this party will be to nominate a Prime Minister who can carry out this political program. The first option seems to be the current leader of the party, Liviu Dragnea – who is now being sentenced to 2 years of suspended prison for electoral fraud. However, the Romanian law does not allow the appointment of a convicted person into the government. The most recent political movements are showing that Liviu Dragnea has succumbed to pressures of the law enforcement and Sevil Shhaideh will probably represent PSD`s nominee and thus the future Head of Romanian Government. About Sevil Shhaideh, it is known that she is one of the closes political friends of Liviu Dragnea. In any way, in confrontation between the popular will and the rule of law, Romania cannot afford another political crisis at this moment. In these outlined circumstances it remains to be seen how the political hegemony of the PSD will evolve.

At the opposite side of this triumph we can notice the great failure of the main opposition, the National Liberal Party. As a consequence to the election outcome, the president of the party resigned the day after the elections. The problems of the party were not acute, but rather chronic. The symptoms of the defeat were also visible at local elections, where the results were far below expectations. The failure was generated by a lack of vision, and the lack of vision was generated by a lack of leadership. It may even be said that the PNL has participated at these elections without leaders. The message they promoted lacked substance and was more focused on the possible damage of a PSD victory. However, there seemed to be a few positive signs as well as the party came up with new candidates, promoting many young people and a fresher elite in different policy areas. The reforming of the party is relevant not only for its own salvation as a political party but also to provide Romania with a powerful right-wing in its politics spectrum to assure a viable balance of the political powers. They need to get rid of the tired portraits and adopt a persuasive, combatant, and articulated speech. The National Liberal Party must become again liberal more than ever.

The astonishing item of the elections was the appointment in the Parliament of the USR (Save Romania Union) party with a redoubtable score of 8.87% of the votes for a party which is less than one year old. This party managed to win the confidence of Romanians that are unsatisfied with the “system” and with the current political class. Lacking experience and based on criticism so far, this young political party emerged as the third force in the new Parliament, despite limited resources and logistics. More than ever, they will need an offensive energy, strength, and most of all in order to assure their existence in politics, they must find an ideological identity.

The former president of Romania, Trăian Băsescu, has claimed himself to be the main opposition for the future left wing Cabinet along with the Popular Movement Party whose leader he is. This is a new party, participating in its first parliamentary elections and becoming part of the new legislature by passing the electoral threshold.  In order to ensure a sustainable coalition, PSD will also be supported by ALDE, a party which is led by the former liberal Prime Minister C. P. Tariceanu. The Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, a party of minorities, is the other party that managed to be appointed in the Parliament and it has great chances to form too a coalition with PSD and be in government together. As a positive item, unlike in many European cases, fortunately the current nationalist-xenophobic voices did not win the confidence of voters and failed to be appointed into Parliament these elections.

In the 11th of December the voters have expressed themselves in a categorical way. As in any democracy, the majority speaks and the manifested option cannot be contested. Its implications will be major. During this mandate, in 2019, Romania will be one of the countries to hold the presidency of the EU Council. Thus, another reason why the votes of Romanians given on the 11th of December will weigh a lot more, influencing both the national and European political spectrum.

Image by Janrito Karamazov, taken from photopin

Pitching Europe

Our mission: Inform you on EU events in Brussels and let Brussels know about your EU event!

EU-Events  is the only web portal gathering all EU-related events in Brussels, organised by the European Institutions, regional and national representations, universities, think-tanks, political parties, lobbies and NGOs.

Brussels  welcomes students, trainees, job-seekers and professionals interested in  European Affairs. This makes the  European capital a unique place for networking. To fully enjoy all the benefits of this international environment, we help you to find out upcoming events, attend them and expand your network … and it’s all 100% free!

How we do it

In the simplest way: an intuitive website and a non-stop action on the main social media. You can also subscribe the newsletter from our homepage and write to us at any time at  info@eu-events.eu.

Besides, we can count on a developed network of event organisers and media partners across the continent and beyond to organise and spread the word on all most relevant EU Events affairs taking place in Brussels.

Our principles

Neutrality: we apply no selection or filtering to any of the events and information gathered, being them of any and every political organisation or association, etc.

Completeness: we strive for ensuring the widest range of events relevant to our mission.

Timeliness: we apply our best efforts to upload and promote the events with a reasonable advance. This is to allow you all, from Brussels or abroad, to make arrangements and attend the events.

Although in the EU there are 7.3 million people working in Personal and Household Services (PHS), the current societal evolutions such as changes in family structures, population ageing and a decrease in family carers mean that PHS are increasingly essential. PHS improve the quality of life of elderly and dependent people and enable workers (mainly women) to balance their professional and personal lives. This is why Personal and Household Services should be a political priority from an economic and societal point of view. Nevertheless, public authorities face several problems and challenges when trying to address PHS-related issues.

The EU project Improving Measurement of Public Support to Personal and Household Services (IMPact) was launched in 2014 with the ambitious goal of creating a common and comprehensive EU Guide to help Member States to improve assessment and monitoring of the macro-economic effects of their PHS-supporting measures. As such, the project addressed the following issues on an ex-ante and ex-post basis: job creation, transfer from the shadow economy to the formal economy, net job creation, sustainability/optimal level of public investment and return on investments, which were highlighted in 2012 by the European Commission as the main pitfalls of any monitoring of policies that target PHS sectors.

The long-term objective of the project is to help public authorities to shape the policies that best fit their needs and objectives.  The project was based upon a wide consortium of partners coordinated by the European Federation for Services to Individuals (EFSI). The other partners are: Censis (Italy), IDEA Consult (Belgium), Oxford Research (Sweden), Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs (RILSA, Czech Republic), Panteia B.V. (The Netherlands), Pour la solidarité (EU-based organisation) and Uniòn de Profesionales y Trabajadores Autònomos (UPTA, Spain).


It is co-funded by the European Commission through its PROGRESS Programme, which ran from 2007 to 2013 to support projects focused on social protection and inclusion, employment, working conditions and gender equality and that was merged in 2014 with similar programmes to set up the new EaSI Programme (2014-2020).


On 13 April 2016, the European Conference “Policies for PHS, an agenda for IMPact” showed the outcomes of the IMPact project, notably by presenting its final document “PHS Policies – Implementation and Monitoring Guide”. During the conference, project partners will illustrate the different aspects of the Guide and, through constant interlocution with participants, how it can help public authorities in solving problems they encounter when designing, implementing and monitoring PHS policies.

The conference, organised in partnership with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), will take place from 11 am to 4 pm at EESC’s premises in Brussels.



Pitching Europe

The EU often deals with issues that are not sexy, especially to young people. Yet, these topics still matter – a lot. With Politix EU we want to trigger a more informed debate about Europe through a better understanding of the underestimated extent of EU legislation. We want to inspire especially young people for a unified and effective Europe and present them with an instrument, which allows them to be able to actively engage in the European debate and shape it.

We believe that people are generally communicative, social beings who enjoy discussing with each other – also when it comes to politics. Yet, when European politics are concerned, most people do not feel sufficiently informed and do not want to get their head around the mess of cryptic information. They feel powerless and without a voice. However, representative democracy is based on interaction between citizens and decision makers. Lack of this interaction in the digital age appears out-dated and unnecessary. Politix EU breaks down the complicated EU law-making-process and facilitates access to information – e.g. by integrating elements from successful and frequently-used social networks especially young users know very well: They can get informed by reading a short abstract of an EU legislative proposal – we call them “bills” – and vote on whether they like it or not (Thumbs up, Thumbs down) – just like on Facebook or YouTube. Users can also comment and share bills through social media and compare how their vote in their home country compares to votes in other countries. We want to give young citizens the chance to get informed and feel empowered to raise their voice and share their thoughts on legislative proposals with the world.

In short, Politix EU is a one-stop shop platform that aims to make citizens aware of EU policies shaping our everyday lives – in plain and simple language. Our goal is to close the feedback loop between politicians and citizens, meaning we want to show citizens what an abstract legislative proposal could mean for their lives and give them the chance to share their opinion on the proposal with policy-makers and the community around them.

We believe that projects like this are imperative to keeping the European spirit alive and to deeply anchor the sentiment of European citizenship in people’s mind. In terms of our own European identity, we have partnered with the European Student Think Tank and the Student Forum Maastricht and are working with a grant from Advocate Europe (which is part of the German Mercator Foundation).


If you are also passionate about digital democracy, simplifying politics or just interested in the project, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch via email or our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).

also, check this youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41nyExkKX44

Career & Education

Oliver Štoffa reports about his mind-moving experiences during his exchange semester in Sarajevo.

“But seriously, why did you guys come to study here? Even my grandma couldn’t believe that…” was the question followed by a horse-laugh of my two Bosnian classmates, interrupting work on our school assignment for a good few minutes. This burst of emotions left me thinking, although I had to get used to clarifying this conundrum as a daily routine during my exchange semester in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the autumn 2014.

After spending one awesome Erasmus semester in Finland, I could not simply sit still without trying to find my way to another international experience. Although the range of possibilities was pretty wide, nothing seemed more attractive and challenging than the beauty, temperament and chaos of Western Balkans – the labels I had in my mind before and during my stay, and I could use them without big adjustments even today. My patience-testing quest for classes held in English turned out to be a fine filter resulting in a single choice – Faculty of Economics at University of Sarajevo. Here comes my first advice for potential followers: It is never too early to start researching about course offers. Yet it doesn’t give you any guarantee that during the first month of your stay you won’t be coming back from your faculty unsure about courses you can take. For some of my friends it turned out to be quite frustrating, because they weren’t even sure whether they could participate in their exchange programmes.

My first encounters with the city, its people and culture were well guided by my awesome Bosnian flatmate, who made it hard for me to imagine a better start of the exchange. Instantly submerged into joys and troubles of local life, I learned very soon what makes people fall in love with Sarajevo, and, on the other hand, what makes many want to leave.

Already before my arrival, he had been a great help for us to find a common accommodation – a cosy apartment near the very centre of the city. In general, it is relatively easy to find a decent place to live for any time period, sometimes with the only obstacle being the language barrier. With student dorms rumoured not to be in the best shape and with rather strict curfew, most exchange students opt for private apartments.

The first two weeks before the semester began were dedicated to our orientation consisting of miscellaneous trips and activities arranged by Erasmus Student Network (ESN) Sarajevo. Together with an intensive Bosnian language course it formed a rather tight schedule with a strong team-building effect, as the total count of exchange students was not more than twenty. The fledgling branch of ESN seemingly having more members than that certainly had a tough role entertaining our small, rather untypical ‘Erasmus cohort’. Sadly, after the very intensive start only few of them had spare time for their realization within ESN and besides one or two short trips, our contact with them was limited to hanging out at dinner parties or bars. Yet, to my knowledge, they have been making certain progress in balancing their workforce and activities.

The less can be more, and so it was with our ESN caretakers. Some have become closely connected to us, as it in general goes easily with warm and welcoming personalities of locals in Bosnia.

What people also treasure about the ambience of the local culture is the relaxed lifestyle based on abundance of coffee and cigarettes, where probably the only legitimate reason to hurry somewhere is warm burek (pastry stuffed with beef) or its variants with cheese, potatoes, etc. I am not sure, if I ever met anyone who wouldn’t love these gems of local cuisine, unless calories set priorities.

So what keeps locals fit enjoying dangerously tasty greasy pastries while sports are not really a part of daily grind? “We have a lot of stress with our authorities and all the bureaucracy, that’s where most of our energy goes to” I once heard somewhere.

Bosnian bureaucracy. That was a big pain also for us foreigners, as many of us agreed that we hadn’t seen it on such ridiculous levels anywhere else. Not to get lost in verified copies of verified documents needed for verification of copies of other verified documents proved to be sometimes quite challenging. On the other hand, the detailed requirements for residence permit made me feel confident that I did not bring HIV into Bosnia. Thank you, the ministry of foreign affairs.

When it all gets too frustrating, you just have a cigarette. No matter where you are. That is why, unfortunately, one must simply forget about tolerance for non-smokers.

I could discourse on pages describing the beauty of diverse nature of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Having my mountain bike with me, I was lucky to discover many marvels in the mountains literally surrounding the city. Besides that, most of the country situated in Dinaric Alps gives ideal opportunities for various trips, even if you are free only on weekends. The luckier ones will appreciate the proximity of other, normally only difficult accessible Balkan countries.

Although I can’t say that this experience makes me want to spend my life in Sarajevo, I do believe that only few places in Europe offer such an interesting and diverse exchange semester. And such good burek.


Pitching Europe

The European Union (EU) is facing a deep political crisis. With increasing pressure coming from the refugee crisis, with an in-or-out referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the EU approaching and with the risk for the Schengen area of dissolving, the EU’s political integration process is once again called into question.

As Eurobarometer data for the last decade shows, the percentage of citizens believing that the EU membership is not benefiting their country is on the increase along with the number of individuals who feel ‘mistrust’ and ‘anxiety’ towards the EU. In the eyes of European citizens, the EU is often seen as a remote institution, which lacks the political will to reform and make a difference in their daily lives. For years, European leaders have blamed ‘Brussels’ for their troubles at home and criticised its ‘behind-closed-doors’ decision-making process. Consequently, citizens’ engagement and participation in European politics has progressively been dropping as shown by the trend of voter turnout at the European Parliament elections, because they feel like their voice is not being heard.

Two issues have been identified by the 1989 Generation Initiative as significantly contributing to the EU’s lack of legitimacy. On the one hand, the lobbying industry is inadequately regulated and largely dominated by the most resourceful multinationals. They have greater access to decision-makers to promote their interests and as a result, lobbying activities are mostly confined to the same portfolios such as Energy, Digital Economy and Financial Markets. On the other hand, the Spitzenkandidaten system used in the 2014 European elections has shown signs that campaign personalisation increases voter turnout. However, several problems hampered the last elections and need to be adjusted. The process of nomination of the President of the European Commission needs more visibility, more authority and a greater European dimension to fully reach its potential.

The 1989 Generation Initiative has elaborated two policy proposals that aim to improve the transparency, accountability and representativeness of the European Union.

We call for the introduction of a mandatory register of lobbying activity applicable to all EU institutions (European Parliament, European Council and the European Commission) to increase transparency in the dealings between EU decision makers and outside interests. In the new system, all human resources and capital invested in lobbying by registrants will need to be declared as well as additional information about involvement in EU committees, forums, intergroups or similar structures. The objective is to create a ‘legislative footprint’ that include public records of all meetings and external inputs during the legislative consultation process. In practice, the ‘Transparency Register Secretariat’ will be attributed additional resources and will be in charge of managing the register, of running checks and of imposing sanctions whenever the rules are infringed.

By making the institutions more transparent and holding actors responsible for their actions and decisions, the EU will earn the support and trust of its citizens. In the words of the European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans “It is just as important to enable citizens to know who we meet and why, as it is for the Commission to maintain an open and regular dialogue with stakeholders”. Moreover, the more open the EU decision-making process is, the easier it is to ensure balanced representation and avoid undue pressure and illegitimate or privileged access to information and decision-makers. We believe this reform will encourage a larger variety of external actors to get involved.

Transparency, accountability and representativeness are fundamental to encourage European citizens to participate more actively in the political life of the EU. To this aim, we also propose the direct election of the European Commission (EC) President.  By fully incorporating the Spitzenkandidaten procedure in the European Parliament (EP) elections, the candidate of the majority parliamentary group will automatically be appointed as the president of the EC. Such a revolutionary institutional reform will enable European citizens to hold both the EP majority parliamentary group and the president of the EC accountable for their actions and to sanction or reward them every five years. The message we advocate is the importance to give European citizens a voice in deciding the direction of the EU and ensuring that this reflects the will of European citizens. As the candidates for EC president will be elected on the basis of their European parliamentary group and political standings, citizens will be better able to better understand the programmes of candidates and make an informed decision about the future of the EU, being less vulnerable to populist rhetoric.

With these two reform proposals, we envisage that the ‘access to voice’ and ‘access to information’ to all European citizens will be fundamentally boosted. This is a critical step forward to enable European citizens to engage with EU politics and fully be part of the European project.