The Public Policy Programs of the Aspen Institute Romania seek to improve the formation of policy through transparent, non-partisan, evidence-based, multiple stakeholders’ dialogue. Based on the Aspen Method, our programs offer public decision-makers, private stakeholders and representatives of the non-governmental and academic sectors an exceptional platform for reflection, aiming to reach consensus on concrete policy recommendations in Romania’s most relevant policy fields. By engaging with public decision-makers from the start of the reflection process, in an informal and informed dialogue, mutual ownership of our policy recommendations is fostered.

Under the umbrella of Aspen Economic Opportunities & Financing the Economy Program a community was created comprising multiple stakeholders from the public, private, and non-governmental sectors, aiming to identifying key constraints and untapped opportunities facing the existing economic, investment, and development model of Romania and to formulate public policy recommendations regarding investment prioritization, public and private resources mobilization and complex projects implementation capacity. To achieve this, since its launch in September 2017, the program addressed three major topics:

  • Identifying a wider range of viable financing sources for large infrastructure projects
  • Setting priorities for public & private resources for key infrastructure projects capable of unleashing the country’s potential
  • Identifying policy solutions with a positive effect on reversing rising inequality, closing economic disparities among subgroups, reduce poverty and revive growth in lagging regions within country, thus enhancing economic mobility for all.

The public policy recommendations of the 2017 – 2018 edition of the Program were compiled in a  White Paper, which also provides an Index (Economic Development and Opportunities in Romania: Local Business Environment Index (LBEI). The White Paper, written by Clara Volintiru and George Ştefan, from the Bucharest University of Economic Studies, was presented during a dedicated panel at Bucharest Forum 2018.

The main topics addressed during the 2019 program iteration were related to financial education and financial inclusion, especially in rural areas and lagging regions. In addition, subjects concerning the role of digitalization in promoting financial inclusion and improving the quality of financial services were also addressed.

Under the 2019 edition of the Program, the following deliverables were carried out:

  • A new Custom Leadership Seminar for the program community. Under the guidance of seasoned moderators, the seminar challenged members of the community (including decision-makers and public sector representatives) to think more critically and deeply about the good society, and to have an informal, constructive debate on contemporary challenges faced by leaders in the financial sector. The Seminar took place on September 19-22, 2019, at Euro-Park, Fundata, Brasov County
  • A White Paper with public policy recommendations for the relevant decision makers.
  • Dedicated panel at Bucharest Forum 2019 (October 16): Emerging Europe @30 – A New Economic Model?

The 2020 edition will continue to deepen the topics addressed in 2019, focusing on financial inclusion, financial education, new technologies in the financial sector (including regulatory perspectives), addressing subnational disparities and developing avenues of collaboration between the financial sector and various representatives of local communities in order to promote inclusive growth and improve the access to capital and financial education. Furthermore, bearing in mind the effects of the global pandemic, the Program will discuss economic resilience, in the sense of a being able to foresee, adapt to, and make the best of changing conditions in the global economy, including being able to recover quickly from economic downturns.

The 2020 Program deliverables include:

  • Working level meetings of the Task Force with the participation of key stakeholders, focusing on identifying priorities for the Program.
  • Three thematic workshops for the Program Community on the major topics identified, issuing key policy recommendations.
  • The first workshop took place under the form of a Webinar on Post-Crisis Growth and Access to Capital in Romania, on May 7, 2020. The webinar took stock of the various changes in our society emerging from the COVID-19 crisis, and the challenges that both the public and the private sector are facing. It discussed economic resilience, in the sense of a being able to foresee, adapt to, and make the best of changing conditions in the global economy, including being able to recover quickly from economic downturns. The report of the event can be found here.
  • The second workshop will also take place as a webinar, on July 2, 2020. The topic of the webinar will be The Impact of Digitalization on the Post-Pandemic Economic Model. It will focus on the perspectives for a new post-pandemic economic model, emphasizing the role of digitalization at public and private sector level in stimulating post-crisis economic growth.
  • A White Paper with public policy recommendations to the relevant decision makers.
  • A Dedicated Panel during Bucharest Forum 2020, during which the main recommendations of the 2020 program iteration will be presented in a prominent public setting.
  • A customized Aspen Leadership Seminar for the program community.

The 2020 program edition continues to be animated by the valuable intellectual contribution of Clara Volintiru, Program Director and Associate Professor in the Department of International Business and Economics, the Bucharest University of Economic Studies (ASE), and benefits from the valuable support of:

  • Program Partners: Unicredit, Mastercard, Raiffeisen Bank
  • Institutional Partners: Government of Romania, Ministry of Public Finance, Romanian National Bank, Romanian Financial Supervisory Authority, Ministry of Public Works, Development and Administration, Ministry of European Funds, Ministry of Transport
  • Knowledge Partners: EBRD, World Bank, EIB