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Volume XIII |

The Romanian urban system – an overview of the post-communist period

Abstract: The Romanian urban system reveals both the influence of the central-based inter-settlement relations and the influence of the historical conditions (persistence of regional influence centres inside the historical provinces). Its 12 urban sub-systems are formed of towns that gravitate towards the Capital city – Bucharest and the second and third-rank cities. The Romanian urban network appears to be insufficiently developed in terms of number of towns versus the total population and surface. In 2012, there were 320 towns, when 400–450 were expected to be as referred to the overall surface of the country. This proves an excessive polarisation area/town ratio compared to other West and Central European countries. Under the socioeconomic transformation determined by the fall of the communist regime, profound changes in terms of intensive spatial development (urban/suburban sprawl, metropolisation etc) were experienced, similar to other post-communist urban systems. Subsequently, the EU accession opened the former socialist cities to new challenges related to urban phenomena, turning them into points of connection at European level by promoting cohesion and competitiveness for a polycentric metropolitan development. The paper attempts to summarise the urban development in Romania and the particularities of the Romanian urban system in relation to the legislative and political context of the post-communist period and the EU accession.

Volume XIII |

Globalisation and Urban Spatial Reconversion. Case-Study: Commercial Services in Romania

Abstract: The ever-growing concentration of income in the capital-city and in major towns has encouraged the development of a series of specialized products and services and the opening of commercial units. The only limit to this type of localization seems to be the continuous social segregation which restricts demand and creates preferential segments of users. New types of urban-rural polarisation are created, directly proportional to the social and cultural segregation and polarisation that condition the Romanian urban system’s capacity to absorb globalizing fluxes. Thus, strong financial segregation among the urban population in the wake of restructuring industrial activities restricts the penetration of globalizing fluxes. Even if the products of the consumerist culture are intensely penetrating at local level, yet the population’s access to them is still limited. Global culture tends to combine with endemic culture, grafted on poverty, deteriorating the quality of life and stimulating urban subculture and organised crime. Financial investments constitute the basis of the spatial distribution of commercial investments. The outlet market potential is the decisive factor for commercial investments, that is chains of stores usually set up by transnational companies. The establishment and diffusion of these commercial units in the territory is closely correlated with the location of banks, dependent on the income-based spatial segregation of the population. Thus, big commercial units are more frequently found in large cities with macro-regional polarisation functions and a positive economic dynamic that ensures the presence of an outlet market competitive enough both financially and quantitatively, so as to guarantee that the investment is profitable. On the other hand, the east/west financial segregation existing in Romania directly reflects segregated localisation of commercial investments which are placed mostly in Bucharest and the large cities from the central and western regions of the country – Transylvania, Banat and Crişana.

Volume XII |

The change of the urban network along the middle and lower Danube during transition

Abstract: The economy and urban development of the riparian regions have been partly determined by the Danube as an inland navigation line (e.g. Dunaújváros, Smederovo, Lom, Calaraşi etc.), or the economy of these towns has been based on the other features of the river (e.g. Komárom/Komarno, Nyergesújfalu, Paks, Orsova, Vidin, Kozloduy etc.). In the aftermaths of the collapse of the communist regimes and the Soviet Union and the blockade of the traffic due to the crisis of ex-Yugoslavia, the role of the Danubian transport line was changed radically (Hardi 2012). Due to these changes and the emergence of the new economy, the function and situation of these towns transformed in the last two decades. Some of them could use the new possibilities, but many of them lost their economic basis and population, becoming a peripheral region or town. Our paper gives a comparative study about the features of the Danube towns, and characterizes the typical development ways of the riparian towns. The present study summarizes the experiences of an academic exchange programme among Romanian, Bulgarian and Hungarian institutions.