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December 17, 2023 UPDATE

A roundup of domestic and international news

NEWSFLASH
NEWSFLASH

, 17.12.2023, 18:40

Budget. Parliamentary procedures for the adoption of the 2024 budget begin on Monday morning. The deadlines are very tight and the entire legislative process should be completed in just three days. On Monday and Tuesday, the debates will take place in the specialized committees, first to approve the allocations for each field of activity, then the members of the budget-finance committees must complete the reports. The plenary debates would begin on Tuesday evening, and the final vote is expected the following day, Wednesday, December 20. The drafts of the state budget law and the state social security budget law for 2024 include the pension and salary increases already announced, a percentage of approximately 7% of the gross domestic product for investments, significantly higher allocations than this year for education, transport or health. According to the calculations presented by the Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu, the Government estimates an economic growth of 3.4%, a budget deficit of 5% and an average annual inflation of 6%. The parliamentary opposition in Bucharest, however, believes that the draft budget for 2024 has nothing to do with the real needs of Romanian society and is only an electoral document. The Save Romania Union estimates that the deficit will be much higher than in the executives calculations, because revenues are overestimated and certain expenses are not included. The party announced that it has submitted over 400 amendments to the draft budget, changes which it claims would correct the normative act.



Commemoration. It was a day of mourning on Sunday in the western city of Timisoara, in memory of the heroes who lost their lives during the anti-communist Revolution of December 1989. December 17 is the day when dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu ordered the repression forces to open fire on the demonstrators. Memorial services were held in churches and at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Timisoara, and wreaths were laid by local authorities and revolutionary associations at the monuments dedicated to those who sacrificed their lives for freedom. Saturday was an open gates day at the Museum of the “Revolution Memorial” Association in Timisoara.. There were also exhibitions, concerts, a festive meeting of the City Council and a march in memory of the martyred heroes. The revolt against the communist regime in Romania broke out in Timişoara on December 16, 1989 and then spread, starting December 21, to Bucharest and other cities across the country. In total, over 1,000 people died and around 3,000 were injured in the fighting that took place in the only country in Eastern Europe where the regime change took place violently.



Hostage. Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu has stressed that Romania is with the international community in supporting the efforts of the State of Israel to release all the hostages kidnapped by Hamas. “The death of the 27-year-old artist Inbar Haiman, Pink, killed by Hamas terrorists, deeply saddened me. My heart goes out to her family and friends”, he wrote on social media on Sunday. According to the prime minister, negotiations to resolve conflicts are the viable solution for restoring peace and security in the region. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bucharest had announced, on Saturday, the death of another hostage with dual citizenship, Israeli and Romanian, in the Gaza Strip, and the Embassy of the State of Israel in Bucharest announced her identity. The MFA communique reiterates the need for the release of all hostages in the Gaza Strip and emphasizes that, currently, only one Romanian with dual Israeli and Romanian citizenship is still a hostage there. The Romanian Embassy in Tel Aviv is in permanent contact with the Israeli authorities.



Schengen. Hungary will veto Bulgarias entry into the Schengen Area if Sofia does not remove the transit tax for Russian gas, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday in a statement, Reuters reports. While Western European countries have made great efforts to get rid of Russian gas, landlocked Hungary has received 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas a year from Russia under a deal signed in 2021, mainly via Bulgaria and Serbia. We recall that at the European Council on Friday in Brussels, the Netherlands officially announced that it agreed with Bulgarias entry into the European area of ​​free movement. In this context, the only country that should change its position and accept the accession of Romania and Bulgaria – states that technically meet the necessary criteria – to Schengen is Austria. Over the last year, Vienna has spoken out against the enlargement of the free movement area, citing the fact that it is not functional as many unregistered migrants arrive in central and western Europe. Late last year, Austria voted against the accession of either country in the Schengen area, while the Netherlands opposed only Bulgaria.



AUR.The President of the Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR), George Simion, participated in the annual conference of the Fratelli dItalia party, led by the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni. Simion, whose parliamentary group is in opposition in the Bucharest Parliament, stated that the solution to defend the Latin and Christian roots of Europe is for a center-right government to be established in Brussels, and the patriotic parties to win all the electoral battles to come. In a press release, AUR reported that Simion and Meloni discussed the possibility of establishing an alliance and emphasized the common roots of the two peoples, Italian and Romanian. The event, organized by the party led by the head of the government in Rome, brought together conservative and reformist European leaders, but also personalities from the business world, such as Elon Musk. On Saturday, George Simion had a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.




Oil. In the first ten months of 2023, Romania extracted 4% less oil than in the same period last year, according to the National Institute of Statistics in Bucharest. Crude oil imports amounted, in the indicated period, to 6.35 million TOE and were 12 percent below those recorded in the first ten months of 2022. According to the National Strategy and Forecast Commission, this years crude oil production was estimated to approximately 3 million tons of oil equivalent, down 2.3% compared to last year. The commission signals that Romanias crude oil production will be on a downward trajectory in the period 2023-2026, with an average annual rate of -2.2%, a consequence of the natural decline of deposits and the maintenance of existing production units.(MI)

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