Now back on campus this fall for his junior year Alexandru Hirsu ’17 spent his summer exploring the impact that cooperation with the European Union has had on corruption in Romania through a Levitt Center Summer Research Fellowship. Hirsu, along with the Henry Platt Bristol Professor of International Affairs Alan Cafruny, will present on their findings during this fall’s Family Weekend.
Romania’s rocky road toward EU membership began with the collapse of the Soviet Union during the early 90’s, explained Hirsu. “After the collapse of the communist regime,” he said, “the European Union was particularly interested in expanding, and had plans to incorporate former Soviet satellite states.” Romania, however, would not prove an easy addition to the supranational organization, largely due to major flaws in its newly established democratic system.
Hometown: Braila, Romania
High School: Gh. M Murgoci National College
Without a well-thought framework established from the beginning of the pre-accession talks, he claimed, the European Union was destined to lag behind the “increasingly ambitious plans of Romanian politicians to satisfy their personal interests at the expense of the population.” Due to this deficiency, a significant portion of the EU funds that Romania received were embezzled, and judicial impartiality has remained elusive, despite promising progress.As a result, the EU was forced to maintain constant pressure on the Romanian government to ensure the state’s compliance with the norms imposed by the Union and to achieve the Acquis Communautaire, or the EU’s body of law which holds constant across its many members. Despite these efforts, argued Hirsu, the EU failed to provide Romania with robust support, as well as the tools necessary to enable the nation to combat corruption efficiently in the long run.
To better understand these challenges, over the course of the summer Hirsu met with public officials, political figures and representatives of various NGOs which offered glimpses into Romanian governmental systems from the inside. He additionally had access to reports from agencies focused the issues surrounding Romanian corruption, as well as media reports from the past 20 years.
Through this research Hirsu claims to have gained a broader and more detailed understanding of the Romanian society and the struggles that it has faced over the past decades in the context of the myriad political and organizational transitions that have transpired since 1989. “I have always been fascinated by Romania’s history and its ongoing transition to a democratic government,” he said. “It made me curious to see how badly my country has been plagued by corruption during its 25 years of democracy... now through the Levitt Center I finally have the opportunity to research this difficult topic of interest.”