The Romanian political mess isn’t getting better. 87 percent of the voters in a referendum on removing unpopular president Traian Basescu voted to dismiss the president, but because fewer than half of the eligible voters bothered to show up, Basescu remains president.It’s almost the worst possible result. Basescu will be further weakened by this massive demonstration of his unpopularity, but Romania’s government (widely considered one of the least effective and most corrupt governments in the EU) is going to be distracted by months of bitter infighting and bickering between the president and his opponents who control the parliament.Now most Americans probably don’t care much about who rules Romania and how well they are doing their jobs. Romania is a long way away, it is not a significant US trading partner, and it is neither a military giant nor an economic juggernaut.But the problem here is the EU. The headlines are focusing on the long running monetary soap opera “Perils of the Euro,” but the unraveling of democratic governance in the Balkans should not be neglected. The governments and political systems in countries like Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and a number of the ex-Yugoslav republics — and even Hungary — are not working very well right now. Rather than governments cracking down on organized crime, in many countries the power of criminal mafias is infiltrating government institutions. In others like Greece, the entire political class has been discredited by decades of corruption and fecklessness, and radical groups on both the left and the right are coming to the fore. Efforts from Brussels to move these countries toward higher governance standards are not bearing much fruit.EU expansion into the Balkans, one of the most important foreign policy strategies that the US and Europe jointly pursued after the fall of the Soviet Union, is not working anywhere near as well as once hoped. Historically, the Balkans and the Middle East were seen as not all that different: both places were filled with ethnic and religious conflict, both places were badly governed, both were economically backward, unstable and a cockpit of great power rivalries.One of the many reasons that Americans should be wishing our European friends and partners success as they grapple with their currency problems is that until western Europe figures out how to manage its affairs, the EU is going to be hard pressed to prevent a continuing slide toward the bad old days in the Balkans. In a region where Greece is the longest established, best functioning and most prosperous democratic state, the outlook is, to say the least, problematic. The US cannot and should not serve as the paymaster, policeman or civics instructor of the Balkans, but threats of genocidal mayhem dragged US forces into two Balkan wars in the 1990s. Let’s hope the 2010s don’t present us with similar crises; Europe is even less able to take responsibility now than it was twenty years ago.