The EU Cohesion Policy invests €4 billion of EU funds in 25 large infrastructure projects in 10 member states.
VISIT – The BRUA gas pipeline is an absolute priority for the European Commission and it is important for the gas to reach Austria, irrespective of the route to be chosen, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Canete, said Tuesday in Bucharest. He also said gas is the bridge-resource between fossil fuels, that Europe wants to give up and renewable energy, which is the future. The EU-backed natural gas pipeline to connect Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria is aimed at easing reliance on Russian gas. Romania must finish its portion of the pipeline in December 2019. Romania will receive around 180 million euros from the European Commission to help finance the first stage of its portion of the pipeline.
INVESTMENT – The European Commission has green lighted a new investment programme worth 4 billion euros for infrastructure projects in ten member states. In Romania, 1 billion euros will help upgrade Bucharest's ring road by expanding several of its sections, doubling the lanes in each direction. It will also support the construction of a 51-km section of the southern part of the new Bucharest Orbital Motorway. Also in the Romanian capital, 97 million euros of EU funds will finance works on the entire metro line 2, with new tracks and rolling stocks. Almost 603 million euros will support the protection and rehabilitation of the highly touristic area of the Black Sea coastline in the Constanța County. The project includes cliff consolidation works, replenishment of sand on the beaches, biodiversity preservation measures as well as monitoring equipment. Finally, the EU will invest more than 135 million euros in better drinking water and waste water systems in the Timiș County.
CONFERENCE – Bucharest played host to an inter-parliamentary conference on the future of the EU, an event organized by Parliament as part of Romania’s presidency of the Council of the EU. The Romanian Minister for European Affairs, George Ciamba, delivered a speech on Tuesday, and reiterated the fact that Romania’s presidency of the Council of the EU is centered on cohesion, seen as an important principle to be considered in the political, economic and social fields. Ciamba also mentioned aspects related to the regional and global role of the European Union.
NATO – Romania will continue to be a trustworthy partner and promoter of NATO’s values and a stability and security pillar in the Black Sea region, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday in Parliament, where a solemn session was held to celebrate 15 years since Romania joined the North Atlantic Alliance. Iohannis said that Romania, which holds the presidency of the Council of the EU, pays special attention to the consolidation of the ties between the EU and NATO. In turn, PM Viorica Dancila said Romania has been and continues to be one of the important contributors to the NATO missions. At present, 887 Romanian military personnel are involved in NATO missions, of which 56 in the KFOR mission in Kosovo, 690 in Afghanistan, a 120 strong anti-air detachment in Poland, and 21 general staff and liaison officers in NATO structures.
MESSAGE – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg conveyed Romanian President Klaus Iohannis congratulations on the 15th anniversary of Romania joining the North Atlantic Alliance. Stoltenberg said that NATO's expansion has been a great success, promoting stability and prosperity. He added that Romania is a strong and committed ally, bringing an important contribution to common defense and Alliance missions and operations, playing a major role in the Black Sea area, in maritime, air, and anti-ballistic defense.
QUORUM - The Judiciary Committee in the Romanian Senate did not have the quorum on Tuesday to discuss the National Anti-Corruption Directorate’s request to start the criminal investigation of Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu for alleged bribery. He is accused of taking 800,000 dollars from an Austrian company, which were then used in the election campaign. Tariceanu, during hearings, said that the purpose of prosecutors is to intimidate him in what he said was his fight against so-called abuses in Romania. The official is still covered by immunity, since the alleged deeds were perpetrated during his term as PM.
BREXIT - The British Parliament once again failed to find a solution for the Brexit, rejecting all four amendments proposed on Monday night, which raises the chances that the UK will leave the EU with no deal on April 12. According to Radio Romania's correspondent in London, the amendment that came closest to passing was the one that proposed the UK stay in the Customs Union, which failed by 3 votes. The proposal to hold a new referendum failed by 12 votes. EU head negotiator Michel Barnier said that the UK has three option ahead of the break-up date: to withdraw with no deal, to ask for a long term delay of the Brexit, or to hold European Parliament elections in the UK in May. (Translated by Elena Enache)