MAE versus MAEur– how can we stop rivalry and encourage cooperation

Policy Brief No. 12, September, 2011

Authors: Cristian Ghinea, Dragoș Dinu

The Government meeting which will be held this week should settle the exact details of the working principles of the Ministry of European Affairs. In this context, the Romanian Centre of European Policies releases the report: “MAE versus MAEu – how can we stop the rivalry and encourage the cooperation between the two ministries which represent us in the EU” – only in Romanian.

CRPE resumes the conclusions of the previously published analysis where we laid out the deficiencies of  the mechanism of coordination of the European affairs in Romania.  The decision-centers established in January 2008 (political level, high officials’ level and civil servants’ level) are not operational in practice. The heavy responsibility stands on the shoulders of the duet MAE – Department of European Affairs. But things do not go well here either, since there exist both duality and rivalry between MAE and DAE. Until now, the problem was only de facto solved to the extent that MAE became dominant in its relation with DAE, as it possesses the Representation of Romania to the EU in Brussels, the Romanian embassies to the Member states and because it works with files which are more political sensitive. The establishment of a Ministry of European Affairs (MAEu) generates the risk of further complicating the situation instead of simplifying it. Prime Minster Emil Boc made the promise that the newly created ministry will coordinate European affairs. In reality, the new ministry only assumes DAE’s responsibilities (plus the institution which dealt with European funds), without receiving supplementary mechanisms of control.  However, the new institution won’t easily accept MAE’s primacy and this creates the risk to further increase the preexistent rivalry and frictions.

These deficiencies and risks are comprehensively analyzed in CRPE’s report. In addition, the two authors advance a few simple solutions:
A more accurate separation of the competence areas;

  • The direct access and partial control of MAEu on the Representation of Romania to the EU in Brussels and, similarly, on the diplomats who deal with European affairs in the Romanian embassies from the Member states.
  • The establishment of a more accurate custom between MAE and MAEu, according to which the final word regarding the country-positions belongs to MAEu. If MAE needs to change these positions in order to better negotiate with other European capitals (legitimate and highly important political attribution of MAE), then MAE should expose its arguments in advance, in a joint session and subsequently offer detailed information to MAEu about the outcomes.
  • More scientifically based country-positions, through analysis and impact studies. MAEu should supervise the budgets allocated for research and analyses to the other ministries when they are related to European affairs. The money allocated remains unused even though these studies are highly necessary. The best solution is externalized research. The European Institute of Romania (institution which also deals with research in this field) should be reorganized, made more flexible and should operate as a network for employing research, a network which is highly adaptive to the requirements necessary for formulating the country-positions.

This report is released under the joint patronage of two projects: “Romania – active in the European debates II”, carried by the Romanian Centre of European Policies (CRPE) and sponsored by the Soros Foundation under the External Policy Initiative and  “The consolidation of the Romanian Parliament’s capacity of being an active European actor” sponsored by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

The report is available only in Romanian, here.