Governance matters! Regionalisation and decentralisation in Romania
In the last few years mainly as a result of the Global Financial Crisis, but also due to the strenghtening of previously unmet challenges - like climate change, growing international competitivity - Europe is on the verge of deep socio-economic restructuring. Yet to tackle these challenges, the implementation of development policies are in the hands of national governments, their outcome being largely influenced by the quality of governance, the existence of efficient institutions, as well as by administrative capacity. Therefore governance still matters, and one of the best examples in this respect is Romania, which with an absorption rate of just 51,87% (31.01.2015) from the 2007-2013 MFF is one of the worst performers in the EU. In this respect is not incidental that from EU accession onwards the necessity to reform the highly centralized and bureaucratic administrative system through decentralization and a comprehensive administrative-territorial reform was a recurring, heated topic on the political agenda. Unfortunately however instead of a thorough analysis of the issue, the public was more preoccupied with the formal characteristics (borders and capitals) of the proposed meso-level administrative units (regions), than with the actual functionality of these (rights and competences). As a result the aim of the following paper is to analyze the process of region-building with a special focus on recent regionalisation discourses and projects, in relation to the question of governance in Romania. At the same time one of the key objectives of the inquiry is to explore the contribution of geography in finding viable solutions, functional models for the administrative-territorial reorganization of Romania.