Romania. According to
COUNTRYAAH, the government that took office before the New
Year was forced into unpopular austerity measures to lower
the budget deficit and pave the way for necessary loans from
the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the EU and the World
Bank. For Romania, it was not to be drawn into the vacuum of
the Greek financial crisis.
In May, the government presented a tough savings package
that was welcomed by lenders but caused angry protests at
home. Public wages would be reduced by 25 percent - the
average salary was about 350 euros a month - and pensions
and unemployment benefits would be reduced by 15 percent.
Tens of thousands of pensioners and workers protested in
Bucharest, demanding the government's resignation and
renegotiation of the IMF's loan terms. A general strike was
carried out when the savings package was debated in
parliament in June, and the opposition requested a vote of
no confidence. It was supported by 228 votes, eight too few
to topple the government.
The opposition appealed the cuts to the Constitutional
Court and was partially correct. According to the court, the
reduction of pensions by 15 per cent contravened the
country's constitution, but the salary reduction by 25 per
cent was approved. The public sector employed one-third of
the labor force in Romania - a legacy of the Soviet era -
and, according to economists, cost twice as much as it
As compensation for the missing pension reduction, the
government decided to increase VAT by five percentage points
to 24 percent. Thus, the IMF approved a partial payment of
the large loan package.
During the year, the EU criticized Romania for its weak
fight against corruption. But a judge in the Supreme Court
was arrested in April on suspicion of receiving large
bribes, and former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase was
indicted in May for corruption, accused of taking bribes and
breaking customs rules.
Romania's planned entry into the EU passport union
Schengen at the New Year 2010/2011 was blocked by Germany
and France, which demanded greater efforts against organized
crime. President Bašescu described the decision as
In July, former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescus and his wife
Elena's graves were opened at a military cemetery in
Bucharest. The couple's children had long requested to
establish that it was the parents who lay in the graves,
since the Ceauşescu couple had been secretly buried at night
after being executed after a summary trial. The Ceauşescu
couple was buried again in December.
At the beginning of the year, Amnesty International
criticized Romania for widespread discrimination against the
Roma. Amnesty felt that the Roma were evicted from their
homes into substandard housing and that they then lost
access to work, community service and social networks.
According to Amnesty, three-quarters of Romania's roughly
2.2 million Roma were living in poverty due to
Therefore many of the Romans went abroad, not least to
France. There, President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered the
demolition of hundreds of camps for Roma and travelers to
combat smuggling, begging and prostitution. In August,
hundreds of Roma were expelled to Romania, and France was
accused of violating EU rules on free movement of EU
citizens. Romanian President Traian Băsescu called for an
integration plan for Europe's Roma, while France demanded
that the European Commission force Romania to stop the
emigration of Roma. Instead, the European Parliament
condemned France's deportation of Roma.
In October, tens of thousands of people in Bucharest
demonstrated against the government's decision to cut public
salaries and increase VAT. The opposition again demanded a
vote of no confidence in the government, but it did not go
through. By contrast, the opposition gained an unexpected
majority in order to lower the VAT on food from 25 to 5
percent, which was welcomed by the people but not by the
Romania was hit in the summer by floods that claimed the
lives of 26 people.