The Liberal Party to begin procedures for a no-confidence motion against the government over new tax measures.
No-confidence motion - The Liberal opposition says it will begin procedures to file a no-confidence motion against the government after the latter's controversial tax measures, which have come under virulent criticism by trade unions and some sections of civil society. The National Liberal Party says it will also request the Ombudsman to challenge the government's emergency order in the Constitutional Court. The cabinet, made up of the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, has decided to transfer the payment of social security contributions from employers to employees and to cut income tax from 16 to 10% as of January 1st. The government has given assurances that these measures would not lead to a decrease in salaries or to higher costs for employers. The labour minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu has explained that the measure to have the employees pay the social security contributions was taken because 30% of companies do not pay health and pensions contributions. The finance minister Ionut Misa has confirmed that more than 175,000 companies are yet to pay this year the social security contributions for 2 million employees.
Brussels meetings - The Romanian foreign minister Teodor Melescanu is to attend a meeting of the EU External Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday. Talks will focus on issues such as EU-Africa relations, in the run up to the African Union-EU summit in Abidjan, in the Ivory Coast. EU foreign ministers will also attend a formal session and a working lunch with the EU defence ministers, including Romania's Mihai Fifor, to discuss EU security and defence. A common notification letter will be signed on this occasion for the launch of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). The Eu ministers will also tackle the consolidation of EU-NATO cooperation.
Patriot system - A bill on Romania's purchase of the first Patriot missile system will reach the Senate on Monday, said the defence minister Mihai Fifor. The bill provides for the purchase of seven missile defence systems worth around 3.9 billion dollars. Four of these will go the air forces and three to the land forces. The first system, worth 764 million dollars, is to be contracted by the end of the year. Patriot is considered the world's most advanced aircraft defence system and one of the few to have been tested in real combat situations. It is equipped with a complex radar system able to detect enemy missile in record time and react to threats in a matter of seconds. Only 12 countries in the world own this type of system, namely the US, The Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Taiwan, Greece, Spain, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.
Spain - Spain's conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy said on Sunday in Barcelona that he sacked Catalonia's separatist government and called early elections in this autonomous region but currently under Madrid's direct rule to put an end to "separatist havoc". Rajoy addressed a campaign rally for his People's Party ahead of the elections on the 21st of December. After the dissolution of the Catalonian Parliament and the sacking of the separatist government led by Carles Puigdemont, the latter took refuge in Belgium with four of his cabinet members. They turned themselves in to the Belgian justice after arrest warrants were issued for them, but were released pending an extradition order. The other former members of the Catalan government who stayed in Spain have been accused of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement and are almost all of them in detention.
Tennis - The Romanian tennis player Monica Niculescu on Sunday won the WTA tournament in Limoges, in France, worth 115,000 dollars in prize money. She defeated the German player Antonia Lottner 6-4, 6-2. Also on Sunday, Romania's Mihaela Buzărnescu lost to China's Shuai Zhang in straight sets in the final of the ITF tournament in Tokyo worth 100,000 dollars in prize money. We recall that another Romanian player, Simona Halep, is still world no. 1 in the WTA ranking.