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Romanian report
by Euro Reporter
2013-08-29 11:11:22
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Romania wants EU compensation for abandoned Nabucco project

Romanian President Traian Băsescu has asked for compensation from the EU for the abandoned Nabucco pipeline project which had been planned to carry Azeri gas to Austria through Romanian territory. “Romania considers itself entitled to be compensated for the abandonment of the Nabucco project," Băsescu said on Tuesday (27 August), according to the Romanian press. "Bear in mind that Romania, supporting this European project, didn’t hesitate between South Stream and Nabucco, and simply said Nabucco,” he added. Last June, the consortium managing the offshore Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan chose the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) over Nabucco to carry 10 billion cubic metres of gas per year (bcm/y) to Europe. Nabucco was supposed to take the gas from the Turkish border across Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to a gas hub near Vienna. TAP will take gas from the Turkish border across Greece and Albania, with an offshore section to southern Italy.

South Stream is a Gazprom project positioned as a rival to Nabucco. It is planned to bring Russian gas across the Black Sea to Bulgaria, continuing its route through Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, to reach northern Italy. Branches of South Stream are planned to bring gas also to Bosnia and Croatia. According to the latest map on the South Stream website, the pipeline would bypass Romania. But the contention that Romania “didn’t hesitate” between South Stream and Nabucco is disputed. In 2010, Romania gave Gazprom all the documentation relevant for building the South Stream pipeline through Romanian territory. That move was seen as an attempt by Gazprom to put pressure on Bulgaria, which has always been Gazprom’s preferred entry point for the offshore pipeline. The notion that countries had to “choose” between South Stream and Nabucco has also been contested. Bulgarian leaders have long bragged that their country would be key for both pipelines. The European Commission has always denied that it has put any pressure on any EU country for any particular pipeline, saying only that it considers the so-called Southern gas corridor to be a priority, because it would contribute to the diversification of supplies and to energy security. The “Southern gas corridor” is a diplomatic term referring to the various projects to bring gas to the EU from Azerbaijan.

Băsescu described South Stream as “a consolidation of the Gazprom hegemony”, adding that he wouldn’t mind if the project was realised. The Romanian President said he had requested that Romanian ambassadors in EU capitals explain this Romanian position and push the EU to compensate Romania for being “the only country which didn’t hesitate between South Stream and Nabucco, unlike other neighbours”.


Deleveraging continued to rise in Romania-report

Deleveraging by big European banking groups from their Romanian units will likely continue to rise; the head of the central bank's supervisory department was quoted as saying on Thursday. "In the last year and a half, 25 percent of the balance of resources received from mother banks at the level of 2011 has left ... that means 5 billion Euros," Nicolae Cinteza was quoted as saying by daily Ziarul Financiar.

"I do not have a problem with deleveraging itself. The problem is non-performing (loans) keep growing and there is a danger that they will be funded from the local market."

Non-performing loans were at roughly 20 percent. Cinteza also said the central bank was carefully monitoring the amount of provisioning for bad loans and that if the level is reduced the bank may even prohibit commercial banks from attracting local funding.


Pensioners exceed workers

Romania counts more pensioners than people in work, a major "economic anomaly" that puts at risk pension payments in the coming years, economic newspaper Ziarul Financiar (ZF) reported on Tuesday. The ratio of pensioners to workers is a major source of concern in several advanced countries, particularly those with high rates of unemployment and of young people without work. A study by Swiss re-insurance group Swiss Re on Tuesday found that a main concern for Germans is the outlook for pensions, because Germany has an ageing population and low birth rate.

In 1990, just after the fall of Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania had 8.1 million people at work and 3.5 million pensioners. But with the switch to a market economy, Romania shed millions of industrial jobs. Hundreds of thousands more were shed during the two years of recession between 2009 and 2010, ZF reports.

In 2012, the number of employed people had fallen to 4.3 million --out of a population 20 million-- while the number of pensioners rose to 5.3 million. "If this trend goes on, Romania risks being unable to support pension payments in ten years", professor Mircea Cosea told ZF. More than two million Romanians have left the country, the second-poorest in the European Union after Bulgaria to find work abroad, mainly in Spain and Italy. Combined with a falling birth rate, emigration has led to an ageing society, a fact that will have negative consequences for the Balkan country's economy, experts say.


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