LEGISLATION – The Senate of Romania Tuesday endorsed a bill modifying the statute of magistrates, in the absence of Opposition MPs. At the time of the vote, the MPs of the National Liberal Party, the Save Romania Union and the People’s Movement Party left the hall, leaving only the Social Democrats, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats and the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania to cast their votes. Several amendments, previously turned down both by the Chamber of Deputies and the special parliamentary commission that analysed the bill, were passed by the Senate, at the proposal of the Social Democratic Party. The most important of them has to do with the concept of judicial error, which entails magistrates’ liability in case of fault or negligence. Prosecutors or judges having committed a judicial error will therefore be held liable. The Opposition announced it would take the text endorsed by the Senate to the Constitutional Court. Also on Tuesday, Romanian MPs continued debates on other major bills in a package designed to change the judicial framework, namely the bill on judicial organisation and the bill regulating the Higher Council of Magistrates. Meanwhile, hundreds of magistrates gathered in front of courts of justice around Romania, to protest the changes that the ruling coalition intend to operate on the justice laws in what they see as a less than transparent process.
COMMEMORATION – Commemorative events continue in Timisoara, western Romania, to mark 28 years since the 1989 anti-communist revolution and in memory of those who lost their lives. Events will continue until December 20, Victory Day, when Timisoara will play host to a rock concert. Started out as a grassroots movement against the local authorities’ abusive decisions, the revolution spread quickly across the country, and led to the demise of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu on December 22. Over 1,000 people were killed and nearly 3,400 were wounded over December 16-25. Romania was the only country from the Soviet bloc where the anti-communist revolution ended in violence with the dictatorial couple being executed. Prosecutors with the Military Prosecutor’s Office on Monday said a military diversion was orchestrated on the night of December 22, which led to a massive loss of lives and destruction.
BUDGET – The Romanian Parliament is debating the draft budget for 2018. Tuesday’s session looked at the addendums, after the body of the text and its articles were adopted on Monday, together with the funds allotted to the main credit release authorities: the Presidency, the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies, and the Government’s General Secretariat. A final vote has been scheduled for Thursday. Romania’s budget for next year is based on an economic growth rate of 5.5%, an exchange rate of 4.55 lei against the euro, an average monthly income of €565 and a budget deficit of 2.97% of the GDP. The priorities for 2018 are healthcare, education and infrastructure. The right-wing opposition has criticized the Government, saying the budget projection is risky and will most likely increase public debt.
SURVEY – Over 85% of businesspeople in Romania are against the transfer of social security contributions from employers to employees, reads a recent survey commissioned by the Council of SMEs. 60% of respondents said they encountered serious difficulties in implementing and negotiating the move starting January 1, 2018. Ovidiu Nicolescu, the honorary president of the Council of SMEs, has warned that many net salaries will drop. The survey was conducted over December 12-18 on a sample of 328 businesspeople.
RwB – 65 journalists were killed in 2017 worldwide, of whom 50 professionals, 7 bloggers and 8 freelancers, reads the Reporters without Borders annual report, made public on Tuesday. According to the report, 2017 was the least deadly in the last 14 years, which is mostly due to a better protection of reporters, and the fact that most journalists have already fled countries located in hot zones across the globe. Same as last year, Syria ranks first in terms of the largest number of journalists killed (12), followed by Mexico (11), Afghanistan (9), Iraq (8) and the Philippines (4).
(translated by: Vlad Palcu, Ana-Maria Popescu)