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SALARY INCREASE – The Labour Ministry has drafted a Government ordinance providing for an increase of the minimum salary to 276 euros starting May 1, 2016. The document has been greenlighted by the Economic and Social Council and will be discussed by the Government on Wednesday. Official figures reveal that the number of employees to benefit from this increase stands at 1.1 million people, of which 40,000 in the public sector and the rest in the competitive sector. The Labour Ministry estimates the increase will positively impact economic growth by stimulating employment and cutting back on illegal labour. With its current minimum salary of 230 euros, Romania has the second-lowest salary at EU level after Bulgaria. The highest salary in the EU is 1,900 euros in Luxembourg, while Germany and France are second and third-placed with 1,470 euros.
DECISION – The Moldovan Constitutional Court on Tuesday ruled that the decree of president Nicolae Timofti to appoint Ion Sturza as the country’s new Prime Minister observes the constitution. 14 former communist MPs, now members of the Democratic Party, have notified the court, claiming that Nicolae Timofti hadn’t consulted their party when appointing Ion Sturza and that the candidate he backed hadn’t been agreed by a parliamentary majority. The Parliament in Chisinau will convene on January 4 for the vote of confidence of the new technocratic Cabinet. Following consultations with parliamentary parties, Ion Sturza obtained the support of Democratic MPs only, accounting for 19 of the total of 101 seats in Parliament.
RULING – A Jordanian businessman settled in Romania 20 years ago has been declared persona non grata by the Bucharest court of appeal due to his terrorist activities. He has been denied entry on Romanian territory for 15 years. The Romanian Intelligence Service informs that the Jordanian national supported the Islamic State, lobbying the group online and even trying to legitimise the Paris attacks. The Jordanian businessman was even willing to involve in the terrorist’s cell actions against Romania. Monitored since 2014, he is to be deported. The decision may be appealed at the High Court of Cassation and Justice.
CORRUPTION – One prime minister, 4 former ministers and 20 current and former MPs from across the political spectrum are among the persons indicted for corruption in Romania in 2015, says the National Anticorruption Directorate. According to preliminary estimates, 2015 saw the largest number of dignitaries prosecuted compared with previous years. The conviction rate in anticorruption cases has remained at 90%. Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis said recently that 2016 must be a year of change through a renewal of ideas, practices and politicians, something that cannot be achieved without eradicating corruption.
TRAVEL DESTINATION – Romania is among the top 16 up-and-coming travel destinations in 2016 in a classification made by the CNN together with travel experts. “Central Romania”, we find from the station’s website, “is engulfed in the soaring Carpathian mountain range, filled with green groves and ski and hiking trails for adventure-heads.” The website also mentions the Danube Delta, in the south-east of the country, which is home to many protected species and which can be explored by boat. The city of Cluj Napoca, in the west, is described as “a hotly-tipped future art scene”. Other top destinations in Romania recommended by the CNN are Transylvania’s “vast and varied landscapes”, where tourists can also visit the Bran Castle, linked to Bram Stoker’s fictitious character Dracula.
RSF - 67 journalists have been killed in the world in 2015 because of their profession, according to a report published by the Reporters without Borders non-governmental organisation. The most dangerous countries for journalists are Iraq and Syria, where 9 journalists were killed in each of them, followed by France, where 8 journalists were killed in February in an attack on the Charlie Hebdo publication. 27 bloggers and 7 media contributors were also assassinated, according to Reporters without Borders. The organisation says a total of 110 persons were killed in 2015, a figure which also includes “suspicious deaths”, compared with 66 in 2014. Reporters without Borders also deplores the fact that the circumstances in which many reporters were killed are still not clear.
TERRORIST THREAT – Two persons suspected of planning terrorist attacks in Brussels on New Year’s Eve have been arrested by the Belgian authorities. The terrorist threat level has been raised to 3. Germany and Austria are also on alert, following an announcement by the Austrian police on Saturday that it received a warning from a “friendly” foreign secret service about possible attacks in several European capitals in the period between Christmas and New Year’s. Moscow’s Red Square, a traditional place for New Year’s Eve celebrations, will this year be closed to the public on the evening of the 31st of December for fear of terrorist attacks.
WEATHER - Temperatures are dropping in Romania, not exceeding 8 degrees. Snow has been reported in the mountains. After some wonderful weather around Christmas, with 15 degrees Celsius, the weather will start to cool, dropping to minus 10 around New Year’s. Temperatures will stay low until January 3rd, especially at night and in the morning, in the centre, north and some areas in the south.