PARLIAMENT The Parliament of Romania is today debating and voting on the second no-confidence motion against the Government formed by the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, and headed by Viorica Dăncila. According to the Opposition, the current Cabinet is a threat to Romania’s national interests, to its economic and political stability. The authors of the motion criticise the laws on the judiciary and claim the Prime Minister failed to comply with the governing programme undertaken at the start of her term. In reply, the PM claimed that the alternative the Opposition offers to citizens is to suspend income increases and even to slash salaries and pensions. Viorica Dancila also defended the justice laws, emphasising that they were endorsed by Parliament, rather than by an emergency decree as it was the case with the Ciolos Cabinet. Initiated by the National Liberal Party, the Save Romania Union, the People’s Movement Party and unaffiliated MPs, the document was signed by 163 MPs, but needs 233 votes in order to pass. Yesterday the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania announced that its MPs would attend the meeting, but would abstain from voting.
STOCK EXCHANGE The Association of Capital Market Professionals says the prospective endorsement of a recent government decree on fiscal and budgetary measures is the most brutal and irrational attack against the Romanian capital market since its re-establishment in 1995. The Bucharest Stock Exchange opened on a slight increase today, but plunged back down, after experiencing its worst day so far on Wednesday. Substantial losses were reported by banks and energy and utilities companies, after on Tuesday the Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici announced that by the end of the year a government decree would be passed introducing certain fiscal and budgetary measures. These include a so-called “tax on greed” charged on banking revenues, and a package concerning energy companies, such as a 3% of turnover contribution, a cap on natural gas prices and electricity price control. The business community in Romania warned against the negative effects of the new taxes announced by the Government for 2019. President Klaus Iohannis urged the Cabinet to reconsider the decree, to negotiate it with employers and trade unions and to endorse a more sustainable version after thorough analysis and review.
EU The President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, receives in Bucharest on Friday the Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council. Romania will symbolically take over the presidency of the EU Council, which it will hold as of January 1. The 2 officials will discuss the priorities on the European agenda, such as the future of the Union, the EU budget after 2020, Brexit, and the elections for the European Parliament. On Wednesday in a meeting with the EU ambassadors to Bucharest, President Klaus Iohannis said Romania’s goal during its presidency of the EU Council is to begin as soon as possible the negotiations on the future relations between the Union and Britain, if the withdrawal agreement is ratified by London and approved by the European Parliament. Iohannis also said that Romania supports a stronger European Union, which is closer to its citizens and able to guarantee their security and prosperity. He also emphasised the importance of the informal meeting of European leaders in Sibiu on May 9, 2019, when the EU strategic agenda for 2019-2024 will be discussed.
JUDICIARY Romania’s supreme court suspended the serving of prison sentences received by several high-level officials under corruption charges. Among them are the former chief of the anti-terrorism and anti-mafia directorate Alina Bica, who requested asylum in Costa Rica, the former head of the tax authority, Serban Pop, and former Social Democratic ministers and MPs Dan Şova and Constantin Niţă. They have been released, until final rulings are passed on their appeals. The argument put forth for the suspension of their sentences was that the membership of the 5-judge panels passing the rulings had not been correct. The supreme court held drawing of lots sessions for the 5-judge panels 3 times this year, when the Law on the organisation of courts was modified, further to a Constitutional Court decision, at the request of the Government and following an objection by the Social Democratic Party president Liviu Dragnea, who is tried for corruption at the Bucharest Court of Appeals.
COMMEMORATION Sirens sounded for 3 minutes in Timisoara today, in memory of the day of December 20, 1989, when Timisoara was proclaimed the first city free from communism in Romania. The largest plants went on strike back then, and workers gathered in the city centre, alongside tens of thousands of other locals. The Army withdrew from streets, the protesters who had been arrested were released, and the people’s demands were read out from the famous Opera House balcony. Also on December 20, the first revolutionary committee, called The Romanian Democratic Front, was set up. Members of the families of the Timisoara victims are traveling to Bucharest today to commemorate one of the most important events in modern Romanian history. They will arrive at the place where the bodies of 44 Timisoara heroes, shot dead on December 17, were cremated. The uprising that started in Timisoara spread on December 21 to Bucharest and other Romanian cities. Over 1,000 people died and some 3,000 others were wounded in the shootings in Romania, the only Eastern Bloc country where the communist regime was toppled violently and where the communist leaders were executed.
FOOTBALL Romania’s national football team will end the year on the 24th position in the ranking that FIFA made public on Thursday. Romania started the year on the 40th place. This year’s 24th place is the best ranking Romania’s football team has held since 2016. The team’s future opponents in the EURO 2020 qualifiers are Spain, in 9th place, Sweden - 14, Norway - 46, Faeroe - 98, and Malta - 182.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)