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January 30, 2024 UPDATE

A roundup of domestic and international news

NEWSFLASH
NEWSFLASH

, 30.01.2024, 20:00

Tribute. Romanias president, Klaus Iohannis, will be in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday for a ceremony paying tribute to Jaques Delors (1925-2023), former European Commission president over 1985-1995, and for a special meeting of the European Council. The main topic on Thursdays agenda is securing consensus at community level over the main elements in the package set to reform the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. The most anticipated decisions regard support for Ukraine at all levels, including military assistance via the European Peace Facility, in line with Ukraines specific needs. President Iohannis will firmly argue in favor of Ukraine remaining a top priority on the EU agenda.



IMF. A special IMF delegation led by Jan Kees Martijn is in Bucharest to conduct a new assessment of the Romanian economy. The mission takes places four months after the previous visit and has an advisory role. The IMF estimates a 2.3% economic growth for Romania this year and a budget deficit of 6% of the GDP. IMF experts have urged Bucharest to implement additional reforms, particularly in the field of taxation. Last autumn, the IMF argued that Romanian authorities should first and foremost seek to eliminate tax exemptions and privileges, implement more efficient VAT-related measures, reform property taxes and encourage the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. Romania has no standing agreement with the IMF at present.



Trains. On Tuesday, the Romanian Transport Ministry signed a 640-mln-EUR contract for the purchase of 62 new electric short-track trains. The contract was signed with the Polish manufacturer PESA, the same company expected to deliver 20 long-track trains in early 2026, as per the contract signed in December 2023. The trains will enter circulation on the main electric rails or segments that underwent modernization works in western and northwestern Romania. Romania has purchased another 37 electric trains from Alstom, France. On Monday, the Transport Ministry signed a contract with the French company worth 150 mln EUR, for the purchase of 16 new electric engines, with money from the fund of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.



Aurescu. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis signed, on Tuesday, the decree for the release of Bogdan Aurescu from the position of presidential advisor as of February 1. On November 9, 2023, the UN General Assembly and Security Council elected Bogdan Aurescu as a judge of the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a term beginning on February 6, 2024. The ICJ, based in The Hague, is the main judicial body of the UN, being the most prestigious and respected international court. The ICJ was established in 1945, based on the UN Charter. It is made up of 15 permanent judges, elected for a term of 9 years, with the possibility of being re-elected, who meet the conditions required for the exercise of the highest judicial positions in their countries of origin or who are jurists with a recognized competence in the field of international law. The 15 judges are chosen in such a way as to ensure the representation of the main forms of civilization and the main legal systems of the world.



CPI. The 2023 Corruption Perception Index, published by Transparency International, shows that most countries have reported little to no progress in combating corruption in the public sector. The EU as a whole is either flat or showing signs of decline in this respect. The EU average in the last five years stood at 64. With a score of 46, Romania remains one of the underperformers at EU level, alongside Bulgaria (45) and Hungary (42), which reflects a dysfunctional rule of law. In several countries, including Romania, there are huge gaps between legal provisions and the way they are enforced, the document states. With respect to Romania, Transparency International recommends updating legislation in the field of public integrity, improving organizational and decision-making transparency, including through efficient public consultations and improving access to public information.



Protest. Farmers protests continue across Europe against the current environmental policies, fuel excises and unfair competition. In France, farmers have blocked the main motorways in and out of Paris and other large cities, warning they wont leave unless their demands are met. President Emmanuel Macron is expected to present a number of proposals on the sidelines of the European Council summit in Brussels on Thursday. Paris has accused some EU partners such as Spain or Italy of “unfair competition”, France Presse and EFE report. Also German farmers blocked on Monday access roads on several segments across the country, particularly in the Hamburg region, disgruntled with the governments decision to scrap diesel tax breaks. Farmers protests have also been reported in Greece and North Macedonia.



Championship. A total of eight athletes will represent Romania at the World Aquatics Championships hosted by Doha over February 2-18, five in swimming events and three in diving. The big absentee is swimmer David Popovici, European champion in the 100m and 200m freestyle events. Constantin Popovici, the defending high diving world champion, and Cătălin Preda, world vice-champion, will lead the Romanian delegation. (MI)

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