Schengen – The migration situation in the EU, especially border protection and the perspective of Romania's Schengen accession were examined, on Wednesday, in Bucharest, by the Romanian and Austrian interior ministers, Lucian Bode and Gerhard Karner. The latter stated that Austria could not provide a definite date for Romania's accession to Schengen. The Austrian official repeated the same figures with which he motivated the vote against Romania's accession to the free travel area: last year, over 110,000 people entered Austria illegally, of whom over 80,000 were unregistered, with the border protection system being still non-functional. He told Romanians that he had a "deep understanding" of their expectations, that the authorities had made progress in securing the borders and managing migration, but that there was still a "long way to go". In turn, minister Lucian Bode said that it was unnatural for Romania to only have obligations and not to benefit from the rights it is entitled to. We remind you that, at the end of last year, at the JHA Council, Romania was not admitted to the Schengen area, due to the opposition of Austria and the Netherlands. The Austrians voted against, and the Dutch decided to accept Romania's accession, but not Bulgaria's, the two countries being analyzed on a common file. At the same time, Croatia received the green light to join Schengen.
Bucharest–9 - The Romanian Defense Minister, Angel Tîlvăr, co-chaired, on Wednesday, together with his Polish counterpart, Mariusz Blaszczak, a new meeting of the defense ministers in the Bucharest 9 Format, held in Warsaw, Poland. According to a Romanian Defense Ministry press release, the activity represents an opportunity for harmonizing the positions of the B9 states on the eastern flank of the Alliance in order to promote and reflect common security interests on the allied agenda, including in the perspective of the NATO Summit due in Vilnius this summer. Also, the participants in the meeting approached aspects regarding the current security challenges generated by the latest developments of the war in Ukraine and the regional and Euro-Atlantic consequences, as well as the need to continue supporting the most vulnerable partners in the region, subject to hybrid threats from Russia, namely the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Gopo - The Gopo Awards Gala - the most important event dedicated to cinematography in Romania - awarded, on Tuesday evening, the best films in the industry released in cinemas or on 'View on Demand' platforms in 2022. The film "Metronome" won the biggest number of prizes, and the audience award went to the film "Teambuilding". The Gopo Awards Gala ceremony was also marked by special moments, such as the 100th birthday anniversary of the renowned filmmaker Ion Popescu Gopo. Ion Popescu Gopo (1923-1989) established himself, through his artistic creations, as a great personality of Romanian cinema, winning, in 1957, the "Palme d'or" award at the Cannes International Film Festival.
Debates – The debate on the draft Education Laws was resumed in the Education Committee of the Chamber of Deputies in Bucharest on Wednesday. They were scheduled to end on Thursday, but the deadline could be extended. The vote in the plenum could be delayed by one week, due to the large number of amendments submitted. These days, the document aimed at pre-university education is being analyzed. The Social Democrats (in the governing coalition) proposed a series of amendments with a budgetary impact, among which the granting of disability pensions in the case of the teaching staff that lost their ability to work as a result of an occupational disease. Instead, an amendment by the opposition Save Romania Union - USR regarding teachers' pay was rejected by vote.
Drills – At the Capu Midia shooting range, in Constanța county (south-east), live fire exercises took place on Wednesday - "EAGLE SHIELD" and "EAGLE ROYAL", led by the French soldiers from the NATO Battle Group stationed in Romania. Soldiers from Romania, the US, Luxembourg and the Netherlands also participated in the two training exercises, the objective being the joint training of the allied troops. The exercises focus on capitalizing on and practicing anti-aircraft defense capabilities through combat firing with rocket launcher systems and anti-aircraft artillery guns against aerial targets. After the launch of the Russian invasion in neighboring Ukraine, on February 24, 2022, France deployed a MAMBA air defense system at Capu Midia, which can launch medium-range surface-to-air missiles that can hit targets at a distance of up to 100 km.
Eurostat – The average electricity prices for household consumers in the EU continued to rise significantly in the second half of 2022, as compared to the same period in 2021, from 23.5 Euros/100 kWh to 28.4 Euros/100 kWh – show data published on Wednesday by the European Statistical Office (Eurostat). Romania is the EU member state with the most significant advance, in the national currency (112%), followed by the Czech Republic, Denmark, Lithuania and Latvia. The average prices for natural gas for household consumers in the EU also increased in the second semester of 2022, as compared to the similar period in 2021, from 7.8 Euros/100 kWh to 11.4 Euros/100 kWh. The most significant advance, expressed in the national currency, was in the Czech Republic (231%), Romania (165%), Latvia (157%), Lithuania (112%) and Belgium (102%).
Handball – Romania’s national men's handball team was defeated, on Wednesday, in Bucharest score 30-35, by the Austrian national team, in its penultimate match in the 4th group of the EHF EURO 2024 preliminaries in Germany. In the decisive round, Romania will face Ukraine on Sunday, and if they win, they can reach the final tournament in Germany scheduled for January 2024. In the group ranking, the Austrians are on first place (10 points) being followed by the Romanians (four points). The Faroe Islands and Ukraine have two points each. The top two teams in each group qualify for the final tournament. Besides them, the best four teams on the 3rd places will go to the European Championship. Romania’s national team last participated in a European Championship in 1996. (LS)