After Austria blocked Romania’s accession to Schengen, there was a national scandal in Romania and people, companies, and even the Romanian Government decided to take drastic action against the Austrian state and companies.
The so-called Austrian boycott targeted all the major Austrian companies activating in Romania, including the oil giant OMV and banks like Raiffeisen and Erste BCR.
Soon after the widespread boycott started, Romania recalled its ambassador to Vienna. Also, the first state-owned Romanian companies announced their decision to cease cooperation with the Austrian banks. Besides, the Romanian Fiscal Agency announced that the Austrian oil giants are among the companies to pay the so-called “solidarity tax”, a decision contested by the targeted companies.
A month and a half after the vote on Schengen, Romania looks more than prone to concessions. The Romanian Government re-sent its ambassador to Vienna, drivers are queuing up to fill their cars’ tanks in OMV petrol stations and the Schengen scandal was replaced by other subjects on the public agenda. People forgot about their initial intention to open bank accounts with Romanian banks, and the Austrian products are still sold in supermarkets.
Is this weakness or part of a bigger plan of re-negotiating accession to Schengen? One thing is clear, though: Austria has spoiled its image in Romania, and people will definitely remember the vote on Schengen for a time, even if the government is successful in its attempt to join Schengen finally.