PRESIDENCY OF THE EU COUNCIL – The priorities of the Romanian presidency of the EU Council, as of January 1, 2019, are structured onto four pillars: Europe of convergence, Europe of safety, Europe-global actor and Europe of common values-Romanian PM Viorica Dăncilă said in the Romanian Parliament on Wednesday. The Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, gathered in a joint session, adopted a declaration on the parliamentary dimension of the presidency of the EU Council, that Romania will hold for 6 months. In the document, Parliament expresses readiness to actively cooperate with the Government on all major files and the proposed initiatives during Romania’s tenure. The Romanian Parliament also says the program of the Romanian presidency of the EU Council is focussing on a stronger, more democratic Union, closer to its citizens. For 6 months, Romania will be at the core of the European decision-making process, its mandate including, among other issues and responsibilities, organising European Parliamentary elections in May. Furthermore, this mandate will be held in a complex European and international context, with Brexit and the multi-annual financial framework being only two of its challenges.
GAC - Romanian Minister-Delegate for European Affairs, George Ciamba, has officially taken over the mandate of president of the General Affairs Council of the European Union, at the end of a meeting with his counterparts, held in Brussels. Special attention was paid at the meeting to the 2021-2027 multi-annul financial framework, in preparation for the debates to be held by the European leaders at the European Council due on December 13-14.
MOTION - 163 MPs, members of the National Liberal Party, Save Romania Union and the People’s Movement Party, in the right-of centre opposition, as well as non-affiliated members have signed for tabling a censure motion in Parliament against the Danicla cabinet, made up of the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats. Naming the cabinet an “organised crime group”, the signatories to the text say the Government is ruining the rule of law and blowing out Romania’s political and economic stability, at a moment of international instability. The motion will be filed on Friday and it will be debated and voted upon next week. The vice-president of the National Liberal Party, Raluca Turcan, has made an appeal to all MPs to join the demarche, for the motion to be passed. In exchange, the president of the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania, Kelemen Hunor, has said the Government enjoys support in Parliament, underlining that he does not know who the person envisaged by the opposition for the position of prime minister is. Filing the censure motion ahead of Romania’s taking over the presidency of the EU Council is a signal which does not do any good to the country, says PM Viorica Dăncilă, who has also added that she is not nervous about the fate of her cabinet.
PENSIONS – The Chamber of Deputies’ final vote on the new pension law has been postponed, after having been green lighted by the Labour and Social Protection Committee on Tuesday. Some MPs in opposition say this is due to the fact that the ruling alliance has not managed to gather enough votes for the bill to pass. Among its provisions is also the one saying that work experience worth 15 years is the minimum amount that qualifies a worker for a public pension.
UKRAINE – State Secretary with the Romanian Foreign Ministry, Dan Neculaescu, has said in a message to the Ukrainian authorities that they must implement the Venice Commission’s recommendations as regards the education law. Romania says the law banning schools from teaching in minority languages beyond primary school level is unacceptable, as it deprives national minorities of the rights they have earned. The Romanian official’s position was presented at the 7th session of the Romanian-Ukrainian joint intergovernmental commission regarding the protection of national minorities, held in Bucharest. According to the Romanian Foreign Ministry, in spite of the efforts deployed, it was not possible to have the text of the session’s protocol agreed on and signed at the December 11 meeting. Dan Neculaescu has voiced confidence that the Ukrainian side will not take measures likely to restrict the rights of the Romanian minority in Ukraine. Almost 500 thousand ethnic Romanians live in the neighbouring country, most of them on the Romanian territories annexed by the former USSR in 1940 and taken over by Ukraine, as a successor state, in 1991.
MESSAGE OF CONDOLENCE– Romanian President Klaus Iohannis conveyed a message of condolence to his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, following Tuesday’s attack in the eastern French city of Strasbourg. Romania stands by France in its battle against those who threaten the lives of innocent people and our way of living, President Iohannis has said in his message. According to the Romanian Foreign Ministry there are no Romanian citizens among the victims and no consular assistance has been requested. Romania’s Consulate monitors the situation and keeps in touch with local authorities. Romania’s PM Viorica Dancila has firmly condemned, in a Facebook post, the attack on innocent people. Hundreds of police officers are hunting a gunman who killed three people and wounded 12 others in a shooting in Strasbourg on Tuesday. The suspect escaped after exchanging fire with soldiers and armed police. The shooting took place close to a popular Christmas market near one of the central squares, Place Kléber. The motive for the shooting remains unclear. Police sources said the 29-year- old suspect was born in Strasbourg and was already known to the security services as a possible terrorist threat. France had raised its security alert level to "emergency attack".