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Welfare. The package of social and economic measures 'Support for Romania', worth 17.3 billion lei (about 3.5 billion euros), will be presented on Monday by the coalition leaders, the president of the Social Democratic Party, Marcel Ciolacu, has announced. He says the package is a first because it's for the first time that a government has come up with such a plan to prevent the effects of the energy crisis. In turn, the Minister of Labor and Social Solidarity, Marius Budai, has explained that the beneficiaries of the social measures included in the 'Support for Romania' program are approximately 12 million people. The measures agreed by the PSD-PNL-UDMR governing coalition include: an increase in the minimum wage of 200 lei (about 40 euros), 50 euro vouchers for vulnerable families, a higher value of meal vouchers, from 20 (4 euro) to 30 lei (6 euro), double food quotas for hospitalized patients, as well as aid for the payment of fuel. The executive has also decided that the employees affected by the war in Ukraine will benefit from an indemnity paid from the unemployment fund.
PNL. Starting today, Romania's Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca is the new president of the National Liberal Party (PNL). He was the only candidate in the election held this morning at the party congress. "We must continue to modernize the country and provide a stable future for our children, with a high-performing education, with modern medical services, with quality public services, with a business environment that can provide well-paid jobs and living conditions just like in the western countries", the PM said. According to him, "investments are the strongest medicine for the economy in a crisis situation". He also spoke about Romanians in the diaspora. "I want them to return home and support our effort to develop Romania with their commitment, experience and skills. We, in turn, must do everything we can to ensure an attractive economic and social environment for them", Ciuca also said. We recall that Florin Citu resigned as party president a week ago, as several Liberal leaders had asked him to step down. They accused Citu of causing tension within the governing coalition, of failing to communicate with the party and of having a bad public image, which affected the party's score in polls. The interim president has been the president of the Suceava County Council, Gheorghe Flutur.
Ukraine. Ukraine is preparing for heavy fighting in the east, where Russia is concentrating its forces, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday when Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were in Kyiv to show their support. In the most recent recording, Zelensky says his country must be helped by tighter sanctions on Russia and deliveries of weapons. Kyiv has already received about three billion euros in military aid from the European Union and the United States. The United Kingdom has also provided equipment to Ukraine, in particular individual anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems. London has also promised, through the voice of its prime minister, armored vehicles and anti-ship missiles, as Russia also threatens the Ukrainian Black Sea coast and there are fears of an assault on it, with Odessa as the main target. Russia is preparing for a massive assault in eastern Ukraine after withdrawing its forces from the north and failing to capture any major cities. Eastern authorities have urged the population to leave the region urgently before Russia can block their withdrawal. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said today that Ukraine has agreed on nine humanitarian corridors to help civilians escape the heavy fighting in the east.
Refugees. More than 10 thousand Ukrainians entered Romania on Saturday, by 16% more than on Friday. According to the Romanian Border Police, some 669 thousand people fleeing the war in Ukraine have crossed Romania's borders so far. Most of them have been heading for Western Europe, and only several thousands have requested asylum in our country.
Corruption. The former Romanian Minister of Tourism, Elena Udrea, is being held in custody by the Bulgarian police until April 14th. The execution of the European arrest warrant was decided on Saturday. The Bulgarian Court ruled that Elena Udrea should be extradited, but her lawyer filed an appeal that will be tried on April 14th by the Court of Appeal in Sofia. Elena Udrea left Romania on Thursday, a few hours before the High Court in Bucharest issued its ruling, maintaining the 6 year prison sentence for Elena Udrea, for bribe taking and abuse of office. She was stopped at the border between Bulgaria and Greece. In Romania, Elena Udrea is also tried for illegally funding the 2009 presidential election campaign. For that, she got a 9 year prison sentence from the court of first instance.
Election. Nearly 49 million French people are called to the polls today to elect their next president. They have a choice of 12 candidates: four women and eight men, representing the political spectrum from the far left to the right. Polls in recent days have alerted incumbent President Emmanuel Macron's team, as a duel with far-right representative Marine Le Pen is the most likely scenario for the second round. The gap between the two has narrowed from 12 points in mid-February to just 3-4 today. According to opinion polls, Macron would get 27% of the votes and Marine Le Pen 23%. In third place, at a significant distance of 16%, is the leader of the far-left La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The other nine candidates are below the 10% threshold. (MI)
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