Comment: Romania’s revolution takes a new twist

It is impossible to imagine, after the historic and tragic events of the past few weeks, the tired, discredited, and reviled government of Mr. Ponta and Mr. Oprea being replaced by anything other than a team of technocrats. There could not be early elections that would simply recreate the fragmented turmoil of the Romanian Parliament, resulting in another regime comprising corrupt and incompetent members of the old ‘political’ class.

In the circumstances presented by a dead government and an extremely weak opposition, the President had little choice but to appoint someone like Mr. Ciolos to begin the job of solving Romania’s many economic, political and social problems. However, the rise of Mr. Ciolos, an apparently respected figure within the establishment of the European Union, or anyone else for that matter will have consequences for this confused and embattled country.

The eleventh round of the talks on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were held in Miami during the second half of October, with the hope that these far-reaching negotiations and the subsequent treaty can be concluded later in 2016.

Fundamentally, TTIP is designed to significantly expand trade between the U.S.A. and European countries at a time when both are finding it difficult to break out of the economic morass into which they have recently sunk. Similarly and perhaps more significantly, European countries will be opened more widely to investment by global corporations, most of which are dominated by U.S. interests.

In both cases, trade and investment, greater access to European markets will be enforced by the creation of a new regulatory regime. Or to put it more simply, governments will be prevented by treaty law from obstructing both trade and investment in their countries assets, industries, and utilities.

It so happens that we know that Mr. Ciolos has a reputation for being friendly to global corporate interests in what is known as agri-business. He has no principled objection to the growth of Genetically Modified (GM) farming, for example. We can therefore guess that he may also have no objection to accelerated U.S. corporate investment significant profit-taking in the fields of energy, mineral extraction, manufacturing, health, infrastructure development, and forestry under the terms of TTIP. Note that when I mention mineral extraction I include all the gold within Rosia Montana.

In fact, anything that can be developed for a profit within Romania will be up for sale.

Now, let’s be clear. Romania has been in urgent need of massive levels of investment in every sector of the economy since the fall of the Ceausescu regime and much of what is about to happen is long overdue. The old ‘political class’ have stood in the way of Romania’s development for far too long, purely in their own selfish interests. But what we are going to see is far greater than anything the old gang could conceive. The country’s assets and the profits made from their exploitation will leave the country at an alarming rate over the next ten to twenty years and everything will change as a result.

Few inside Romania will have any control of what happens or benefit in any lasting way.

There will be no negotiated privatizations, no protection of current employee’s rights, no guarantees of job security, and little care for environmental consequences in a country ill-equipped to resist to the profit-obsessed demands of global business. All of this will be backed up by the legal obligations forced on European states by the TTIP treaty.

Circumstances have placed Mr. Ciolos in a role for which he seems perfectly suited and Romania is about to experience a genuinely profound revolution initiated in corporate boardrooms far, far away.

By Ronnie Smith, guest writer