A roundup of the main stories in Romania today.
Government. The 16 ministers of the new Orban cabinet, which has the same structure and membership as that dismissed through a vote of no-confidence, are interviewed for three days, starting today, by Parliament's specialist committees. The vote of investiture is scheduled for the 24th of February. Prime minister designate, the Liberal Ludovic Orban has decided to maintain the same government make-up because he says he is satisfied with the activity of each minister. The Social Democrats, in opposition, say they are not going to vote for the candidates proposed for the new government. Moreover, they are considering boycotting Parliament's meeting for the investiture vote. The plan of the National Liberal Party is for two consecutive governments to be rejected, which would trigger the dissolution of Parliament and early elections. Ludovic Orban said previously that early elections could be held between the 15th and the 30th of June, at the same time as the local elections.
Visit. The speaker of the Chamber of Deputies and interim president of the Social Democratic Party Marcel Ciolacu travels to Brussels today. He is due to meet the vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, the president of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli and the president of the Party of European Socialists Sergei Stanishev. In a statement, Ciolacu said his party needs to resume dialogue and consolidate its relationship with the friends and partners from its European political family. In April last year, the Party of European Socialists froze ties with Romania's Social Democratic Party, now in opposition but still the biggest group in Parliament, over its attacks on the rule of law while in power. Relations became less tense after the prison sentence for corruption of the Social Democrats' former leader Liviu Dragnea and after the Social Democrats gave up plans seen as an attempt to place magistrates under political control and halt the fight against corruption.
EU. EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels today to prepare Thursday's difficult special summit on the multiannual budget, where major differences are expected between the big contributors and the less developed states. After talks with the European leaders, the president of the European Council Charles Michel has proposed a national contribution to the budget to the amount of 1.07% of the GDP, but the rich countries refuse to allocate more than 1%. Romania's president Klaus Iohannis has recently promised to negotiate hard to maintain funding for his country at least at the current level with respect to the cohesion and common agricultural policies, the main instruments to reduce development gaps. EU foreign ministers are also expected to discuss in their meeting today the arms embargo on Libya which has to be enforced through a naval mission that is currently inactive due to a split among the 27 EU member states, as well as the plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict proposed recently by US president Donald Trump and which has already been criticised by the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
Coronavirus. The Romanian citizen infected with coronavirus, from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan is in good and stable condition, the interim health minister Victor Costache has announced. The other 16 Romanians on board the vessel, who are not infected, feel good, the minister also said. He added that stocks of disinfectant and protection materials have been replenished in Romania and that people entering Romania from the region affected by the coronavirus are to be quarantined. Two people who have returned from the area at risk, but who are not infected, are in quarantine in Bucharest, while 340 other persons are in isolation at their homes. As for the ability to diagnose the virus, the minister said more than 1,500 tests are available in Romania that show the results within four hours. In China, the death toll is nearing 1,800.
Tennis. The Romanian tennis player Sorana Cîrstea (69 WTA) today defeated Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro (59 WTA) in three sets in the final qualifying round for the Premier tournament in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, worth 2.6 million dollars in prize money. Also today, another Romanian player, Ana Bogdan (90 WTA) lost to Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus (48 WTA) in two sets. World no. 2 Simona Halep, who is seeded first in Dubai, plays straight into the last 16, where she faces the winner of the match between Alison Riske of the US and Ons Jabeur of Tunisia. Halep won the Dubai tournament in 2015.
(Translated by Cristina Mateescu)