Friday 17 April 2009

Romania & Moldova: Loyal cooperation?

It is astounding how easily leaders of EU member states forget their basic treaty commitments. I have little sympathy for the unreformed regime in Moldova or its authoritarian policies to stifle political pluralism, stealing the elections long before the observers arrived.

But how can the leadership of Romania promise passports to one million Moldovans without thinking about its obligations to the other EU member states?

New Romanian citizens (from Europe’s poorest country) would automatically become citizens of the European Union.

Has the Romanian government consulted its partners about this sudden influx? Have they agreed? If so, where do we find the documents?

Loyal cooperation

Article 10 TEC

Member States shall take all appropriate measures, whether general or particular, to ensure fulfilment of the obligations arising out of this Treaty or resulting from action taken by the institutions of the Community. They shall facilitate the achievement of the Community's tasks.

They shall abstain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the objectives of this


Romania is not the first EU member state to act without concern for its partners, but old breaches are no excuse for new ones.

EUobserver reports EU dismayed by Romania mass citizenship plan (17 April 2009).


In addition to the lack of ’Community spirit’, the Romanian proclamation reveals one of the many weaknesses of a complementary citizenship, with different value in different member states.

Since loyal cooperation seems to be too weak a principle, EU citizenship needs to be reformed into an independent and unitary status, defining who is an EU citizen as well as the rights and obligations.

Ralf Grahn


  1. This thing is already a reality, several 100,000 Moldovans have already received Romanian/EU citizens. And many of those having applied for Romanian citizenship might in fact live already within the European Union, legally, semi-legally, or illegally.

    This story is not really new, and the only change is that the Romanian president promised to ease the administrative procedures for a process that is ongoing for quite some time.

  2. But, Julien, should the EU have no say in who its citizens are or in the extent of its territory (another question depending on member states' decisions)?

    A million potential new citizens is not a small matter, and without consulting the other member states!?

  3. It should have been dealt with better during the accession negoitations, since it has been going on for a long time, and other acceeding countries had to change their relations with non-acceeding countries before (didn't Poland have to strengthen border controls on it's border with Ukraine?). The possible entry of 1 million new citizens into the EU is a serious matter, but part of the fault must lay with us (as in older member states) for not sorting out these issues out before accession.

    On the other hand, free movement between Romania and the rest of the EU hasn't exactly been achieved yet, so there should be some leeway for Romania if it's not getting the full benefits of membership. For a long time most of them will be restricted to Romania.

    In principle, the EU should have some input on allowing large influxes of new citizens, since it effects, or has the potential to effect, all of us due to the single market. I am a bit ambivilant in this case though.

    What would be our response if Moldova and Romania decided to unify?

  4. Actually, Romanians have greater access to the free movement of workers than I thought, looking at the BBC's new map.

  5. Eurocentric,

    There is actually one great and unofficial enlargement, Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall. It was agreed on by the then member states.

    (In the opposite direction we have the secession of art of Denmark's territory, namely Greenland, leading to the Greenland Protocol.)

    The point I want to make is that the European Union (despite its grave imperfections) is such a tightly knit political union that individual countries cannot and should not behave like elephants in a china shop.

    The Court of Justice has reasoned on grounds of loyal cooperation in some instances, but I am not sure how far it would go in a case like this.

    But I wouldn't categorically dismiss the possibility.

  6. Has there been any agreement between member states on how many citizenships they grant or how tough the procedure should be?

    Since it is an easing of procedure rather than a mass granting of citizenship, what should be the solution? Would you have a European part to each citizenship test/application procedure that is uniform throughout the Union?

  7. Has there been any agreement between member states on how many citizenships they grant or how tough the procedure should be?

    Since it is an easing of procedure rather than a mass granting of citizenship, what should be the solution? Would you have a European part to each citizenship test/application procedure that is uniform throughout the Union?

  8. Un-loyal!

    Julien, you need to consider first that the Romanian embassy in Chisinau,Rep Moldova's capital, was closed since 2007 when Romania joined Ue so no file for romanian citizenship was ever processed there!

  9. Theoretically speaking if the Romanians will realise the integrity of their teritory the way it was before 1945 will that part (in this case, Rep Moldova) be part of UE?

    We have the precedent of Germany, no?

  10. Eurocentric,

    Processing the applications in one month less seems to be the smaller part. Widening the scope to a whole new generation seems to be a change of considerable proportions.

    At this stage I have the feeling that an EU citizenship with different rights and obligations in various member states is a problem and untenable in the long run.

    There is a CEPS paper on the subject, if I remember correctly.

    Without special research it is hard to know if and how much there is concert among the member states in the Council (including working groups).

  11. Ari Soze,

    In principle, as with citizenship, the territory of the European Union (geographical scope of the treaties) is not defined independently, but is the sum of the territories of the member states (alhtough there are protocols and precisions concerning some territories, both overseas and others).

    But one member state cannot unilaterally extend its territory at the expense of another state. Here we encounter international recognition, through the United Nations and bilaterally.

    We have seen problematic cases, when the Security Council of the UN is divided and some member(s) recognise the independence of an area while others reject it (Georgia, Balkans).

    I cannot imagine that a unilateral declaration of Romania or annectation by force of parts of Moldova's territory would gain recognition from the EU or the international community in general, and my guess is that the government in Moldova is not prepared to cede any territory.

  12. This statement’s coming from Traian Basescu, running for the presidency for the second time and taking advantage of the external political context[Moldova’s Twitter ‘revolution’ follows on from Georgia's Rose revolution in 2004, Ukraine's Orange Revolution in 2005, the killing of ten protestors against election fraud in Armenia in March 2008].
    It's hard to believe this 'proclamation' will pass the Ro Parliament's required vote while is dismissed as 'non-political and subjective'.

    The issue of a potential unification of Ro with Moldova concerns only indirectly EU and is placed entirely on historical justified ground, has nothing to do with an annectation by force.

    Besides, in all the EU treaties the Romanian national state is referred to as 'Romania'.

    So if, theoretically speaking, they would be able to gain the required international recognition within their new borders, the EU (defined basically as an economical/social community and as the sum of the territories of the member states ) will have to reconsider parts of the Romanian Assesion Treaty. And here we'd hit again the German precedent.

    Out of topic but relative to 'the loyal cooperation' i'd mention today declaration of Karel De Gucht

  13. Ari Soze,

    Voluntary agreements on changes to state territories are possible, and German re-unification was one such example.

    You may forgive outsiders for taking statements of state leaders as expressions of state policy. My post began with words about such leaders being forgetful of their duties.

    I read the speech of Belgian FM Karel De Gucht with great interest, in part because this blog has for a long time contended that the European Union has taken a turn in an intergovernmental direction.

    Both De Gucht and I are also committed to doing what we can to counter this trend.

    Therefore, I see no reason to condone any acts of disloyalty.


Due deluge of spam comments no more comments are accepted.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.