Friday, August 7, 2009

Europe's bottleneck

I'm living a honeymoon with my driving license. It is not a month old and I try to practic as much as I can. As I'm no spending my time in the middle of Romania (Sfintu Gheorghe/Spesiszentgyörgy) I could have reexperienced something I have noticed earlier as a passenger. The lack of the necessary infrastucture of traffic. There are no transversal motorways, crosing the country, no suitable fast traffic routes. Some of the main European higways were rebuilt in the last decade, but it is far from being enough. Especially if one takes into account the fact that Romania is situated along one of the most importnat landroutes in the EU. As the Western Balkans is still not a part of the common market the larger part of goods transported from Turkey and the Balkans to the West is crossing the country, having no alternatives. And without the necessary infrastructure the country literally became Europe's bottleneck. Trailers crawling along the two-lane roads with steep curves...

There is no direct relationship with the crisis, at least in a narrow sense. But as Romania's fast growth in the last decade was fuelled not only by a credit bubble and the inflow of financial transfers from the guest workers but the lack of major infrastructural development and investment it reveals a side of the low tax low redistribution approach not emphasized in the good years: without the necessary budget incomes there is no way to finance such works. (To be fair with Romania, it was amongst the most shbby countries at the end of the communist regime, therefore its need of infrastructural development was extraordinarily high, especially compared to the level of its GDP.)

It is not a major finding, nor a great discovery, but maybe could highlight how complex the situation in many ECE countries is. It is not only an issue of one or two percent more growth or 5 or 10 percent lower taxes. Many of those countries needed a thorough reconstruction and not simply a transformation. And once again, a problem of a single member state has far reaching consequenes for the whole of Europe...


  1. I think it's important that they are trying hard: there are two highways built paralelly. I know it's not a big deal compared with the needs, but anyway, it's a start.

  2. Well, I do not want to deny any effort to improve the situation (although on the one hand it always seemed to me dubious whether they are really building highways and motorways or only laundering money and on the other hand whether they can grasp the seriousness of the situation, the two renovated highways (via Sibiu-Deva/Déva-Arad and via Targu Mures/Marosvásárhely-Cluj/Kolozsvár-Oradea/Várad) are far from satisfactory given the level of traffic). My point is that contrary to the "Romania is on the right track with its newly found model, similar to that of the Slovaks" rethoric, it was not the case, more precisely there was quite important implicit sacrifices, usually not taken into account by the proponents of this model. This model also has its own inherent choices between one kind of "common good" and the other and it is simply unfair not to speak of these implication when you propagate it as superior to other models.