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THE WEEK IN REVIEW

May 13-17, 2024

Week in Review
Week in Review

, 18.05.2024, 13:15

Protests by Romanian employees

The week began with the protest of the Romanian National Trade Union Bloc and its 29 affiliated federations against the increased level of labor taxation. Several thousand trade unionists organized a rally in front of the Government, demanding a reduction in taxes, which they consider too high compared to salaries. The protesters believe that the current situation does not encourage people to work, and high taxes mean even more illegal work. According to the National Trade Union Bloc, Romania is the only country in the world where business contributions to the social security system have been shifted onto the shoulders of employees since 2018. The NTUB draws attention to the fact that Romania currently has one of the highest fiscal burdens on the cost of labor in the EU: 42.8% compared to the 38.6% European average. At the same time, according to the NTUB, which cites Eurostat data, low wages and high taxation caused Romania to register the third lowest employment rate in the EU in 2023, after Italy and Greece. Only 69% of Romanians aged between 20 and 64 work, which means that almost a third of Romanians do not work. On the other hand, the data of the National Institute of Statistics show that, in March, the average gross salary reached 8,500 lei (about 1,700 euros), and the net value was 5,185 lei (1,040 euros), which represents an increase of over 6% compared to the previous month and almost 14 percent compared to March 2023. When presenting the report on inflation, National Bank Governor Mugur Isărescu drew attention to the fact that in Romania incomes generally increase much more than productivity, and this will have a significant impact on inflation. Therefore, the NBR has slightly increased the inflation forecast for the end of this year, from 4.7 to 4.9%. However, according to the European Commission’s spring forecast, at the end of 2024, Romania would have an inflation of almost 6 percent, more than double the estimated European average. Mugur Isărescu explained, in this context, that Romania recorded a slower rate of inflation growth in the past years, and now also records a lower rate of decrease of this indicator compared to the countries in the region with which we can compare.

Tougher laws in Romania

The Parliament of Bucharest adopted a law by which drivers caught under the influence behind the wheel can be left without a driver license for a period of up to ten years. The document also prohibits the postponement of the prison sentence in the case of those convicted of causing fatal accidents under the influence of alcoholic beverages or psychoactive substances. Practically, anyone who is detected in traffic, at the wheel, driving under the influence of alcohol or psychoactive substances will receive, in addition to the conviction, a ban on driving a vehicle for up to 10 years, compared to 5 years at present. If they cause a road accident resulting in the death of the victims, the punishment will be between 15 and 25 years in prison. Moreover, the normative act provides that persons found with prohibited substances will not only be fined, but will also receive custodial sentences. The Romanian legislature also adopted the law which provides that persons sentenced to prison who fled the country will bear the costs of bringing them to Romania. More precisely, the state would recover its expenses with their extradition. According to the Minister of Justice, Alina Gorghiu, the cost for each person brought to the country to serve their sentence varies between several thousand euros and 25,000 euros, money that is now given by the state, given that the phenomenon of fugitives has been increasing year to year.

Romania has a National Strategy against human trafficking

Criticized in past years for the inefficiency of measures to combat human trafficking, Romania launched on Monday the National Strategy against human trafficking 2024-2028, which aims to reduce this phenomenon, identify victims, offer them assistance, and punish traffickers. Compared to the early 2000s, the country has made significant progress in efforts to combat the phenomenon, both in creating the legal framework and in the necessary institutional organization, but there are still things to be done, say those who participated in the launch. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Strategy against human trafficking is built on four pillars: prevention, punishment, protection and partnership. At the same time, it provides a clear framework for action aimed at improving the capacity of all structures involved in combating human trafficking. According to the data of the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons , since the establishment of the agency in 2005, i.e. over 19 years, 19,000 victims of human trafficking were registered in Romania, and there were over 4,000 convictions. In this context, the authorities claim that means of intervention have been identified, there are partnerships in place, and the necessary resources will be allocated to combat this scourge.

Constanța Port has 2 new terminals

The Romanian port of Constanta, on the Black Sea, increased its operating capacity with two new terminals on Wednesday. One of these will allow wheeled trucks to be unloaded directly from ships, and will handle up to 80,000 vehicles per year. Also, a cargo terminal will operate oversized equipment for heavy and bulky cargo. The new facilities will contribute to increasing the connectivity between the existing maritime and rail transport services in Romania, but will also have results regarding the movement of goods between continental Europe and the Black Sea, the Adriatic Sea, and the North Sea. The investment was about 65 million euros, developed by the DP WORLD company from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Constanța is already the largest container port on the Black Sea, and next year another multi-transport platform would be opened here, following a 50 million euro investment by the same company in Romania.

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