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December 28, 2023 UPDATE

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, 28.12.2023, 19:47

Schengen – The Romanian Interior Ministry has reached a political consensus with its counterparts in Vienna and Sofia for the partial extension of the Schengen Area to include air and maritime borders with Romania and Bulgaria starting March 2024. Negotiations are expected to continue in 2024 for the two countries full Schengen accession. On Tuesday and Wednesday, diplomatic talks were held at the level of the Interior and Foreign Affairs ministries, with the participation of diplomatic missions to the EU, regarding a Justice and Home Affairs Council resolution that would make this political agreement legally binding. A positive decision on the two countries Schengen accession requires a unanimous vote in the Justice and Home Affairs Council. We recall that last year the decision was postponed due to lack of unanimity in the Justice and Home Affairs Council regarding the Schengen accession of Romania and Bulgaria, due to opposition voiced by Austria and the Netherlands.




Budget — Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis promulgated, on Thursday, the State Budget Law and the State Social Security Budget Law for next year. The laws were approved by the Government on December 15 and adopted by the Parliament, through an accelerated procedure, five days later. In 2024, Romanias budget will focus on investments worth about 7% of the GDP, as well as on an economic growth of 3.4%, while the deficit is estimated at 5% of the GDP.



Aid – The United States has announced the disbursement of an additional 250 million USD in military aid for Ukraine. International media writes this will be the last military aid package for Ukraine before a new vote in Congress, where the Republican majority has shown reluctance towards the initiatives of the Biden administration, which has promised Ukraine over 61 billion dollars. “It is imperative that Congress act swiftly, as soon as possible, to advance our national security interests by helping Ukraine,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. This aid package includes air defense munitions, other components for air defense systems, additional ammunition for high-mobility artillery rocket systems, 155mm and 105mm artillery ammunition, anti-armor munitions, and over 15 million rounds of ammunition, according to a US Department of State release. “Thank you for your help. We will win”, the former head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Andrii Yermak wrote on X.



Szeklerland — Romania’s Chamber of Deputies rejected on Thursday, with 260 votes for and 16 against, the three initiatives of the opposition Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania – UDMR regarding the autonomy of the so-called Szeklerland (centre), made up of Harghita and Covasna counties and part of the Mureş county. During the debates, all other political parties emphasized that the three documents violate several articles of the Constitution and harm the rule of law. The legislative proposals concern the status of autonomy of the area, the status of the cultural autonomy of the Hungarian community in Romania and a framework law on the cultural autonomy of the national communities. Thus, the said Land was meant to be an autonomous region with legal personality within Romania, with its own president. The law also provides that regional autonomy is exercised by an administrative council, while the Hungarian language would have the same status as the official language of the Romanian state. The Social Democratic leader, Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu, welcomed the vote of the deputies by which “those toxic initiatives related to the autonomy of the Szeklerland and the cultural autonomy based on ethnic criteria were rejected”. The three documents will be debated on Friday by the Senate, which is a decision-making body. (VP, LS)

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