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VISIT – Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu on Thursday said his objective is to lift the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism in the field of the judiciary before Romania takes over the rotating presidency of the European Council in 2019. This means Romania should get a final positive report, Sorin Grindeanu said, adding that the Government will continue to guarantee the fairness and independence of the judiciary. The declaration was made during his meeting with European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, who is on an official visit to Bucharest. The EU official said each citizen deserves to live in a rule of law, and that good results have been obtained under the CVM. According to Frans Timmermans, right now Bucharest is at the end of a very long marathon, and it needs to observe the recommendations of the European Commission regarding its justice system.
ECONOMIC FIGURES– Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu on Thursday announced Romania reported a budget surplus of 360 million euros, accounting for 0.2% of the GDP, in the first three months of the year. The Prime Minister said the VAT collection rate went up by 2.5% in February as compared to the same month last year, and by 8.9% in March as compared to the same period in 2016. Sorin Grindeanu said a total of 62,000 new jobs were made available in the first quarter of the year.
COOPERATION – Austria and Romania will cooperate to have successful mandates at the helm of the European Council in the second half of 2018 and the first half of 2019 respectively, the Minister Delegate for European Affairs Ana Birchall said on Thursday. According to a Foreign Ministry press release, Ana Birchall met with Austrian Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Sebastian Kurz, during her official visit to Vienna. Talks focused on hot topics on the European agenda and of mutual interest to both states, with a focus on furthering cooperation in the field of European affairs. The Danube Strategy, the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership were also on the agenda of the meeting.
MILITARY – Chief of General Staff General Nicolae Ciuca on Thursday said Romania will be purchasing US Patriot missiles, as part of a national program to purchase military equipment. Patriot is an advanced ground to air missile that can target fighter jets. The announcement was made at a press conference in Smardan, eastern Romania, currently hosting a joint US-Romanian military exercise. Taking part were Romanian officials from the government and the armed forces as well as representatives of the US Embassy.
ALARMS – Romania continues its widest ranging exercise to test alarm system at a national level. Emergency sirens were tested between 10 AM and 3 PM in 11 counties and Bucharest. The sirens are supposed to announce chemical accidents, air attacks, or severe flooding, and can be heard on a radius of around 500 meters. 7,700 such sirens are distributed around the country for civil protection. The exercise, concluding Friday, is supposed to measure speed of reaction in case of emergency, as well as coverage of alarms, in addition to response measure awareness.
MEETING – European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said his meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday was positive, underlining the mutual interest of observing the rights of EU citizens after Brexit. President Tajani said they agreed on the need to solve the issue of the rights of EU citizens living in Great Britain, as well as of Brits living in other EU states. In turn, a British Government spokesman said May and Tajani agreed on the need to maintain close ties between London and Brussels after Brexit and to offer ‘security’ to EU citizens as regards their legal status after Brexit.
GYMNASTICS – Romanian athlete Marian Dragulescu qualified to the floor event finals and the vault finals in the European Gymnastics Championships. The event is hosted by the Romanian city of Cluj, which wraps up on April 23. This edition is attended by 274 athletes from 37 countries. Romanian gymnastics legend Nadia Comaneci is ambassador for the European Championships. The last edition of this event hosted by Romania took place in 1957.
TENNIS – Romania's women's tennis team plays at home this weekend, taking on the UK's team, in a bid to hold on to their place in the world group in the Fed Cup. The games are scheduled for April 22 and 23, in the resort of Mamaia, on the Black Sea coast. Romania's team is made up of Simona Halep, 5th ranked, Irina Begu, 33rd ranked, Monica Niculescu, 47th WTA, and Sorana Cirstea, 61st WTA. The UK brings into play two top 100 players, Johanna Konta, 10th ranked, and Heather Watson, 72nd ranked. Romania and the UK have faced off five times so far in the Fed Cup, with the Romanians winning four times.
WEATHER – Bad weather will continue to afflict Romania over the next couple of days. Rain, snow, gales and low temperatures have caused the authorities to extend a code yellow until Friday at noon, taking into consideration the snow in the mountains as well. A code orange alert is in place until noon on Friday in the eastern and southern Carpathians as well, with wind expected to reach speeds of up to 80 to 90 km/h. The worsening of the weather has affected road traffic. Several flights have been delayed by the weather on Cluj International Airport. A few localities in the north and southeast were left without power. Bad weather is affecting several countries in Europe as well, with closed highways in Austria, strong wind in Italy and heavy snowfalls in eastern Ukraine. The Czech Republic, Poland, Serbia and Hungary are also hit by a wave of bad weather.