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:

The 2020 edition continued to deepen the topics addressed in 2019, focusing on financial inclusion, financial education, new technologies in the financial sector (including regulatory perspectives), and new mechanisms for financing the economy, in the context of the 2021 – 2027 EU Multiannual Financial Framework. Furthermore, bearing in mind the effects of the global pandemic, the Program 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 2020 Program edition provided as deliverables, given the SARS-COV-2 pandemic context:

  • 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 also took place as a webinar, on July 2, 2020. The topic of the webinar was The Impact of Digitalization on the Post-Pandemic Economic Model. The webinar focused 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. The report of the event can be found here.
  • The third workshop/webinar of the Program took place on November 23, 2020, on the topic of New Mechanisms for Financing the Economy. The webinar analyzed how Romania can benefit from the new and complex mechanisms of financing the economy across Europe. The report of the event can be found here.
  • A White Paper with public policy recommendations to the relevant decision makers.
  • Dedicated Panel at Bucharest Forum 2020, on the topic of Economic Recovery and the Pandemic (October 12, 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 (online, November 16 – 19, 2020).

The 2020 program edition continued 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 benefitted 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, Infrastructure and Communications
  • Knowledge Partners: EBRD, World Bank, EIB