Futures Studies in the European Ex-socialist Countries


Mircea Malitza

  1. Brief preliminaries

Prospective concerns became manifest in Romania at the end of the sixties and was maintained for some ten years. In 1968 theChronicle of the Year 2000 first appeared as a press serial and was published as a volume in 1969. In 1973, the futures studies international community met in Bucharest, creating today’s WFSF. At the beginning of the 70s the Prospective Commission of the Romanian Academy was set up, which is working even today. In a series under the heading ofGlobal Issues of the Mankind , the Commission has published 15 volumes. In the same period was created the International Center for Futures Studies Methodology withMihai Botez (author of the first Handbook of Prospective Techniques in Romania, and later a known dissident of the regime) as its director. Today, the members of the group are distinguished researchers (World Bank, city planning, science and technology, management, etc.). The Bucharest group maintained close relationships with their colleagues in other countries:Bertrand de Jouvenel, Johan Galtung, Eleonora Masini, Robert Jungk , who often visited them. The problem they faced at home was that of accepting “several possible futures” (de Jouvenel ) in contradiction to the uniqueness of aim as according to State socialist planning. In 1977, the Center was expulsed from its headquarters. Meanwhile, it had succeeded to participate in the world perspective movement and in international projects such as that of the Development’s Indicators at the UN University.

  1. The present situation

After the 1989 Revolution, prospective preoccupations were gradually resumed, and at the end of the 90s they became of topical interest. A summary selective presentation must leave aside a big number of Prospective Clubs that work in cities (Galati , etc.), within large professional associations (AGIR) or in schools and universities. I shall only mention the Black Sea University Foundation, the UNESCO Prospective Chair of the Cluj University, the Institute of Economic Forecasting and the Romanian Academy’s Commission for Prospective Studies. I shall mention each one’s present activities and projects for the future.

2.1. The Black Sea University Foundation (BSUF)

This was created in 1993. Ever since, the BSUF has organized 50 post-university international courses annually that enjoyed each year 1,000 participants (from more than 40 countries). Among the themes of the courses a leading place was held by Prospective (present stage, methods) and prospective studies in various domains. Issues of special interest to our region and to the societies in transition were approached and treated in the light of the prospective (future of the professions, of the universities, of the cities, etc. One general course on Prospective was held byHugues de Jouvenel of Futuribles, Paris. Among the study centers set up by the Foundation, one that distinguished itself is the National Center for Sustainable Development. In collaboration with the Romanian Academy and with the support of the UNDP, it developed the firstStrategy for Sustainable Development of Romania, which was supported by Trade Unions and the Employers associations and endorsed by the Cabinet in 1999. The Black Sea University Foundation resumed and developed its ties with UNESCO’s prospective thinking centers, the Club of Rome, the WFSF, the WFS etc. It also initiated the editing of a quarterly review,Millennium III . Among the members of the board areRicardo Diez-Hochleitner, Sergei Kapitza, Lawrence Klein andIlya Prigogine (Nobel Prize laureates),Federico Mayor, Jean d’Ormesson, Ernst Ulrich Weizsäcker, Roseann Runte andPentti Malaska . Furthermore, the Foundation established ties with the Forward Studies Unit of the EU and consequentlyScenarios Europe 2010 was translated into Romanian under the aegis ofMillennium III . was published in April 2000 in view of a large debate to which the authors of the Scenarios were invited to participate.

The Foundation’s main aim was to enhance the awareness about foresight in Romania and to stimulate the production of studies capable of supporting the country’s sustainable development. The Foundation shall play host to WFSF’s World Conference in 2001.

BSUF also devotes its activities to training. Thus, the most recent initiative based on the experience of theConflict Prevention Center that works under the aegis of the Foundation was the creation of theFive-Seas Academy (the five seas being the ones that surround the South-East of Europe). Also, it is worth mentioning that out of the eleven member countries of BSEC governmental organization, six are Balkan ones. The area of the Center’s concerns is that of the Black Sea and Balkan South-East. In addition, on the Foundation’s initiative the Black Sea Universities Network, linking more than 80 universities, was set up.

The Black Sea University Foundation

Blvd. Primaverii 50, Sector 1, Bucharest, Romania

Tel./Fax: 0040-1-222-4118 & 0040-1-222-7001, E- mail: bseau@rnc.ro


The Black Sea University Foundation, Casa Academiei

Calea 13 Septembrie, Sector 5, Bucharest, Romania

Tel./Fax: 0040-1-411-2601

2.2. The UNESCO Prospective Chair

Babes-Bolyai University and Black Sea University Foundation of Romania have set up since October 1999 a UNESCO Chair Program for education and research in “social prospective studies, integration of Central and East-European countries in the European Community, regional resource use and labour force employment, and education prospective”.

Chaired by Prof. Dr.Traian Rotariu , the Program aims to create a center of excellence in prospective studies and to establish a network of institutions involved in long-term futures studies in the Black Sea area and the developed countries.

The Chair was created following a proposal submitted by the BSUF and approved byFederico Mayor in 1997. Since 1999 it is hosted by the Cluj-Napoca University, which has a European Studies Department. During its two first years of existence the Chair had not met with a favourable environment at the Academy of Economic Studies from Bucharest where it had been initially located.

The Chair’s teaching staff consists of three professors, three lecturers, one reader, three assistants and one researcher. They have a management headquarters equipped with computers, printers and xerox copiers and a library of more than 100 volumes and 300 specialty reviews.

The Chair was represented at the XVI WFSF World Conference at Bacolod, the Philippines, 5-8 December 1999 by ProfessorTraian Rotariu , when it adhered to WFSF.

They started prospective research activities through the projects: “Romanian Teenagers and Axiologic Changes Associated to Globalization and Cultures” and “Romania’s Integration into the E.U. Attitudes, Expectations and Fears of the Population”.

Other activities planned for the year 2000 included:

Setting up a Social Statistics School (organized by the Chair for Prospective Studies in cooperation with the Sociology Chair and the Chair of Political Sciences, financed by the Foundation for an Open Society) for students of Social Sciences of the 3rd and 4th years, May 3-13, 2000. Learning of Methodological Elements of Prospective Research; Reading by ProfessorTony Stevenson , WFSF President, May 25, 2000; Round table on the theme of “Prospective: science, atavism or social engineering?” Participants: ProfessorTony Stevenson , the staff of the Chair, journalists, professors and researchers from Romania, May 24-25, 2000.

International Symposium “ South-East European Transition. The Challenge of Integration”, November 13-15, 2000.

The Program aims to develop researches in globalisation and the information society; population, education and social change; the consumption prospective; transformations in the production system and the political evolution of democracy in Romania, among others.

Including the following courses of Prospective in the curricula of Master Degree in Sociology: Prospective Demography, Methods and Techniques in Prospective Research “Mass Communication and Cultural Globalisation” October 2000.

Preparing issue number IV, 2000 of “Millennium III” quarterly.

Contact Person:

Professor Dr. Traian Rotariu

Universitatea “Babes-Bolyai”

Facultatea de Istorie si Filosofie, Catedra de Prospectiva

Str. Mihail Kogalniceanu 1, 3400 Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Tel.: 0040-64-405-300/Ext.282

Fax: 0040-64-191-906

2.3. Institute for Economic Forecasting

The Institute for Economic Forecasting (IEF) was established in 1990, in order to facilitate policy oriented economic research into the transitional environment and the impact of EU integration process for the Romanian economy. Since then the Institute has become an active center in Romania and its analyses have played a major role in the decision making process at macroeconomic level, in recent years. Institutions such as the National Bank of Romania, branch ministries (Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Research and Technology, Department for European Integration), international organizations (UN, World Bank Mission in Romania), trade unions and entrepreneurs associations are among the domestic beneficiaries of its studies and analyses.

A leading dimension of IEF’s work is oriented towards the development of cooperation with regional (Central- and Eastern European CEE), European and world organizations and other institutions. From the very beginning, it established research contacts with academic and research institutions from the UK (LSE, LBS, Heriot-Watt University, Essex University, Leicester University, Imperial College, University of London), France (CEPREMAP, ROSES- University of Paris 1, GRATICE - University of Paris -XII), Austria (Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, Belgium (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Catholic University of Louvain), Germany (University of Göttingen), the Netherlands (Free University of Amsterdam), Poland (University of Warsaw, University of Gdansk), Hungary (Central European University, Economic University of Budapest, Institute for World Economy, Budapest), the Czech Republic (CERGE - Charles University), Bulgaria (Institute of Economics, Economic University Sofia), Slovenia (University of Ljubljana, Macroeconomic Institute), Israel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem and CINADCO), Canada (University of Toronto, Institute for Policy Analysis), USA (Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania - WEFA Group), etc.

Now, to mention some of the particular achievements of the IEF:

The development of comprehensive macroeconomic models for the Romanian economy, in the light of future European Union integration. At present, three different macroeconomic models implemented by the Institute are the functional models calibrated for the present Romanian data and used for analysis and forecast activities (RMSM-WB Model, National Bank forecast, the base for scenarios within the Government Strategy for European Integration and Sustainable Growth, Non-Linear Macroeconomic Model).

Sector and specific studies on aspects of industrial development, reform and restructuring, developed jointly with the CEE and EU partners or together with other domestic institutions. Examples of such projects are: the National Program for Accession to the European Union (PHARE program - jointly with Adam Smith Institute London, Romanian Ministry of Finance); Competitiveness evaluation and industrial policies for reform (Ministry of Industry and Trade, ongoing project with Vienna Institute of International Economic Studies, a pilot study intended to be expanded into all other CEE countries).

Impact studies such as labour market analysis, trade and FDI structural evolution, fiscal and monetary policies. Examples of projects include: Labour market policy and sector employment re-allocation, A comparative study for transition economies, jointly implemented with the LSE (London School of Economics); The impact of indirect taxation on the demand of gasoline in Romania, jointly with the Ministry of Finance and the Adam Smith Institute; The Sustainability of Public Debt and Deficits - World Bank Program and CEROPE, etc.

The researchers of the Institute have published more than one hundred articles in international publications as well as contributions to well-established Romanian academic journals, the Institute’s bulletins, etc. Also, part of some of the Institute’s works were published as chapters in various books edited by prestigious publishing houses such as Kluwer, Springer Verlag, OECD, World Bank, etc.

Particular attention was paid to attracting young promising Romanian researchers and including them in specific training programs, often in top universities and institutions in the European Community and EEC countries, including Romania. Practically, all senior researchers of the Institute have benefited from long spells of training and skill improvement in the EU or candidate countries, in the form of fellowships, scholarships, summer schools of economics, academic bilateral exchanges.

The Institute has also received the visits of numerous senior and junior researchers from EU member countries or other EEC candidate countries, involved in fellowships, post-doctoral studies, participation in joint research workshops, seminars or in conferences organized by the Institute. Also, the Institute organized workshops, seminars and conferences with international participation.

Contact Person:

Professor Lucian-Liviu Albu

Academia Romana, Institutul de Prognoza Economica

Calea 13 Septembrie 13

Casa Economiei, et. 3, Sector 5, 76117 Bucharest, Romania

Tel.: 0040-1-410-3200/Ext. 3317 or 3306;

Fax: 0040-1-411-4916 or 0040-1-4103200/ext. 3306

E-mail: ipe@ipe.ro

http://www.securities.com/Romania/Macroenomic Analysis and Forecasts

Publications:Macroeconomic Analysis and Forecasts and respectivelyEconomic Performance Evolution in Transitional Systems, Institute for Economic Forecasting, Internet Securities Inc., ISI Emerging Markets)

2.4. Commission of Prospective Studies of the Romanian Academy

The 25 members of the Commission, members of the Romanian Academy, are directors of research institutes and experts in the discipline of Prospective. The Commission collaborates with the Institute for Economic Forecasting of the Romanian Academy, the Governmental Center for Prognosis (moved at present with the Ministry of Finance) and other centers in the country. Its foreign ties are with the Forward Studies Unit of the EU in Brussels, Futuribles in Paris, the UNESCO Analysis and Prospective Center, World Futures Studies Federation in Australia, the Club of Rome and other similar national centers.

During its almost three decades of existence, it has published 15 volumes of studies under the heading “Global Issues of the Mankind”. The Commission was in the past years one of the initiators of such works asRomania 2020, Romania’s Strategy for Sustainable Future and collaborated in writing them and is at present committed in elaborating the development strategy for medium term in a European perspective by the Government’s group of experts. It is the initiator of the UNESCO Chair for Prospective at the University of Cluj-Napoca and has supported the Black Sea University’s program of prospective studies in close collaboration with BSU. Furthermore, the Commission was patron of the National Center for Sustainable Development and members of it are on the Board of the Center. The Commission is one of the patrons ofMillennium III , a quarterly published in English. It also has developed synergic ties with the other mentioned above centers.

Its aims are, among others, to stimulate and direct prospective studies in Romania and to elaborate studies on the future development of the Romanian society in the perspective of globalisation and European integration.

Its projects for the years 2000-2001 include the elaboration of a prospective study of education and work in the light of modularization of disciplines and a national symposium on the scientific and technological perspectives opened in Romania by the ICT revolution.

  1. Conclusions

The slow rhythm of recovery of prospective studies in Romania is partly due to the heterogeneous political coalitions, which could not make up their mind upon some prospective strategies, which would have required, of course, the support of some foresight studies, but also because of the reservation of the ultra-liberal circles towards the prospective. The resort to developing politically independent research came from the area of the civil society, which, with the support of some international bodies, has produced such studies asRomania 2020 and theStrategy for Sustainable Development. The fact that they have worked together has helped the non-governmental organizations. But most particularly, it was the beginning of negotiations for EU access that was the decisive factor, which has determined the change in the attitude of authorities and their implication in such strategies as require prospective studies. One may state that in the spring of 2000 the elaboration of the medium-term strategy of Romania with the support of the EU has created a momentum in favour of such studies and brought them to a broad public attention. It is most significant that, together with the development of the strategy to which civil society is called to bring its contribution, there are ongoing talks about creating a permanent governmental body capable of guiding and monitoring long-term development.

The mentioned above bodies have found through their activity the encouraging potential of the civil society. They are to be found among the initiators of theRomanian Forum for European Integration that includes some 60 NGOs.