Vaccination. The coronavirus vaccination campaign continues in Romania. 5,666 people have been vaccinated so far. 17 minor side effects have also been reported. Authorities say the population should be properly informed by official medical sources and vaccinated. The president of the Romanian Society of Epidemiology, Doina Azoicăi, has given assurances that the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine, which is administered in Romania, is safe, effective and offers protection even if mutations of the virus occur. Meanwhile, 4,300 new cases were reported after 21,500 tests were processed on Thursday. The total number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic has reached almost 632,000, and that of deaths 15,760. The number of Romanians abroad infected with the new coronavirus has reached 7,056, and the number of deaths 130.
Protests. Several trade union organizations in defense and public order, together with Romanian court clerks, are protesting today in front of the Bucharest headquarters of the Interior Ministry and the country's prefectures against the decision to freeze salaries in the budget sector in 2021. Adopted on Wednesday, by Emergency Government Ordinance, the decision was also criticized by the trade unionists in the field of health and those from the Interior Ministry.
Aid. Romania has sent humanitarian aid to Croatia, after the series of earthquakes that hit the Petrinja region in that country. Following the activation of the European civil protection mechanism, the Romanian government decided, on Wednesday, to grant emergency humanitarian aid for the Croatian authorities who requested support for Petrinja, the most affected region. The Romanian humanitarian convoy, which left today from Arad (west) for Croatia, carries basic necessities: living containers, tents, beds, mattresses and sleeping bags. The Romanian team participating in the mission consists of 30 people. Saturday will be a day of national mourning in Croatia in memory of the victims.
Brexit. Great Britain is finally parting, after almost 50 years, from the EU, as of tonight, at 1:00 a.m., Romanian time. The long-awaited post-Brexit agreement was signed on Wednesday by the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the European Council President Charles Michel. The agreement regulates, as of Friday, January 1, 2021, the relations between the EU and the United Kingdom. European leaders described the moment as "of historical importance" and "a major step forward". The document was also endorsed by the British Parliament. The new regulations are to be ratified by the European Parliament and the legislatures of the 27 Member States. The United Kingdom, which officially left the EU on 31 January 2020, will permanently abandon the EU single market and customs union on 31 December, but no tariffs will be imposed on the movement of goods from both sides following this agreement.
Energy. Romania's electricity market is liberalizing tomorrow, and analysts accuse the authorities of mismanaging the situation, so the price of energy could rise by up to 26% for some consumers. The cause is not liberalization itself, but the lack of information available to the population. The most endangered are the consumers who are currently in the regulated market and who do not sign any new contract, regardless of the supplier. On the still regulated market in Romania, there are approximately six million household consumers who will automatically switch to the free market as of January 1. Active consumers, namely those who inform themselves and sign a contract with a supplier, will be affected by a price increase of up to 5%. On the other hand, passive consumers, those who do not sign a new contract, will be automatically placed in a universal service contract, the most expensive on the market, regardless of the provider.
Employment. The contingent of newly admitted foreign workers on the Romanian labor market will decrease in 2021 by 5,000 people, from 30,000 this year, according to a draft Decision approved on Wednesday by the Executive. The decision to reduce the quota for next year was taken based on the latest data provided by the General Inspectorate for Immigration (GII), which indicated a decrease in the number of employment / posting notices issued to foreign nationals in the first 10 months of this year. Thus, while between 01.01 - 30.10.2019 GII issued over 23 thousand notices of employment / posting, by October of this year the number of documents issued for this purpose decreased by almost 6,000, reads a press release of the Ministry of Labor sent to AGERPRES. Another reason behind the decision to reduce the quota of newly admitted foreign workers was the fact that, as of this year, employers are exempted from the obligation to obtain the employment permit for citizens of the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and the Republic of Serbia, with an individual full-time employment contract, for a maximum period of nine months in a calendar year.
Gender equality. In a single year, Romania has achieved the most brutal international demotion in terms of women's representation in government, according to a study conducted by the Competitiveness Initiative. In the current executive, only one portfolio is held by a woman, so Romania falls from the 102nd position in the world to 175th, and down to the last place in the European Union states. There are nine countries where women are not part of the government. These include Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Thailand and Vietnam. But there are also 14 countries, such as Spain, Finland, Austria, Sweden, France or Canada with at least half of the portfolios held by women. (M. Ignatescu)