With under three weeks until the EU elections, our road trip has arrived in the Transylvania region of Romania, where Euronews reporters Damon Embling and Gabor Tanacs hear from a small business owner about the difficulties of operating in the midst of dramatic emigration.
Our Road Trip team has made its way all the way from Portugal to the Transylvania region of Romania — not looking for vampires, but rather for the voices of European voters.
Romania is one of the EU's fastest growing economies, but that hasn't solved its emigration problem. Like many other EU countries we've profiled on the road trip, Romania sees many of its skilled workers and youth leave the country in search of better opportunities.
A World Bank report published in 2018 noted that Romania saw the highest increase in emigration among the EU countries since 1990, with a high percentage of emigrants being of working age- over 2.65 million people, or about 20.6 percent of the Romanian working population.
Diana Oserhan owns Joa clothing company with her husband, based in the small town of Rasnov in the Carpathian Mountains. She says it's difficult to keep good workers around, and growth has been moving in the wrong direction. Joa has gone from fifteen textile employees to five.
"It is very difficult, because they are not specialised," she said of the employment pool. "You take them, you teach them how to do things, and they leave, because they feel like abroad is better for them."
Romania joined the European Union in 2007, and Oserhan is considering taking advantage of freedom of movement to move the company to Bulgaria, if necessary. In Romania, she feels that small business owners are swimming against the tide.
"I think the European Union does a lot of things to help us, but our governors do not want to take that money. And if they take that money, they make it very very difficult for us to benefit from that money. Even my partner – he is very fond of Romania – and he never wanted to move, he said maybe we don’t have to keep on hoping. Maybe we can find another place."