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A (big) problem of the convergence with EU: Mentality of governance. Some units of measurement

de Marin Pana 3.2.2017

The convergence with the Western Europe means more than just the growth that would cancel gaps in terms of standards of living but keep us on the current coordinates in terms of customs and mentalities.

Two Eurostat statistics reports illustrate the differences of approach between us and the world that is more civilized.

Meaning that it is about the “measurable” mentality.

Where nothing is, the King must lose his right

The poor quality of the services that the state provides in all areas where it is involved, from the public healthcare to the administration is widely acknowledged. Unfortunately, nobody is willing to assume the task of bringing public expenditure to the European level, to create at least the premise of getting public benefits at the European level.

If comparing our figures to the figures that Eurostat centralizes and processes, it can be relatively easy to see that from the start, given the option of spending money as share of GDP, we cannot even expect a miracle in these areas, especially that most of them are even below the overall percentage of expenditure (see table).


  • Main public services and expenditure as share of GDP
  • Romania         EU average     Relative share
  • Social security
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • General public services
  • Total public expenditure
  • Source: Eurostat, own calculations


In other words, to align ourselves to the European standards (that also count in, for the total average, our former colleagues from the socialist bloc, now colleagues within the capitalist bloc) we might need to increase the expenditure by about 50% from the current level. Implicitly, the revenues of the state budgets would also go up by about 50%.

Let us all have everything/And no quality in anything

What does mentality have to do with low taxation from the perspective of the European practice, but against the gilded and pretentious backdrop of the social protection claims using nobody knows whose money?

In terms of living standards, we have the best explanation for the situation in which we find ourselves. It is an area where we excel, as we are simultaneously the first and the last among the EU citizens.


  • Living standards          Romania         EU average                 State with an opposite situation
  • Average dwelling area            the last                                     Cyprus
  • Dwelling under personal ownership          the first                        Germany
  • House with shower or bath facility     the last                         Germany


We can see that we have a very low-grade housing area, as our average is less than half of the EU average and less than one-third of the record level from Cyprus. But the funniest part is related to the washing facilities from our own homes. From this perspective, we are by far the most embarrassing nation from the EU and it is pointless to get mad on the names by which some less kind neighbours of ours call us.

It is in vain to have lots of property houses if we are unable to also ensure minimum hygiene facilities at hand for ourselves. That, unlike the Germans, for whom the basic rule is the washing, not the property. The property is an abstract concept, but the possibility to take a shower is as tangible as possible.

Ideal is not about extremes

As long as we do not have the practical sense of understanding the finality of an action, in a system of organization that would at least aim to reach an optimum balance between money spent and results, we shall always keep wondering why we do not have proper conditions in the underfinanced hospitals, where we get infected by the already presumed lack of hygiene, with devastating effects for the entire community.

Optimal means to keep a permanent balance between spending and benefits obtained. The amounts spent should not be the smallest and the dreamed benefits the biggest, as that is simply impossible.

As neither at home, in most cases, we buy the cheapest salami or the cheapest car, to lament afterwards that we do not like the taste or the comfort, nor in finance can we have both low tax and the best public services in the same time.

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