Mary Dejevsky: This is the place for Euro passion

Bucharest Notebook: There were real, live Euro issues being fought over, as they related to Romania

Share
Related Topics

By the time you read this, most results of the EU Parliamentary elections will be known. But I have to say that it was a pleasure to find the Romanian capital festooned in Euro-election posters – after London, where the only EU election advertising seemed to promote the anti-European Ukip.

Not only was there an admirable display of political pluralism in Bucharest, where the two parties in the coalition government were competing for Euro-votes, and the President's rather spectacular-looking model daughter, Elena Basescu stood as an independent, but there were real, live Euro issues being fought over, as they related to Romania.

One of the hottest of these centred on what could be done for compatriots working elsewhere in the EU. A large number of Romanians who went to work in Spain and Italy now find themselves unemployed and without access to benefits. In Britain, Romanians and Bulgarians, unlike earlier arrivals in the EU, do not enjoy an automatic right to work. Romania's politicians saw in these inequalities fertile ground for campaigning. Is there something here that British politicians could learn from when the next Euro elections come up in four years' time?

You just can't miss it

I was in Bucharest for a conference that was held at the Palace of Parliament, a stately name betraying nothing of the building's controversial past. The last time I was in Romania all the talk had been of opposition – an almost unheard-of concept at the time – to the plan of the then leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, for a vast architectural complex.

Before setting off from London, I asked friends how to find the site. Don't worry, they said. How right they were. I had scarcely stepped out of my hotel before a vast, flat brown wasteland opened before me. More than 20 years on, the vast palace is built, with a Champs Elysées-style avenue, just as Ceausescu had planned. By day, it is a domineering presence; at night, lit up, a potentate's ethereal castle.

After the execution of the Ceausescus, many wanted to bulldoze the lot. Instead, it was designated guardian of Romania's new democracy. Almost 20 years on, that is still an uncomfortable cohabitation.

Gentlemen, this is a queue

An abiding memory of Bucharest in those years was the courtesy of its inhabitants. Quite unlike anywhere else in the macho Balkans, Romanian men rushed to assist any damsel, of any age, whether or not in distress. Remarkably, this courtesy coexisted with a degree of persecution, often highly personalised, as cruel as anything the communist world produced. The courtesy, I'm delighted to report, remains, but with a malign twist. I experienced no queue that was not jumped by a male of the species.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine