Vaccination – In Romania continues the anti-COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the 82 centers opened so far. More than 10 thousand people in the healthcare system have been vaccinated and in only 26 cases minor, common side effects have been reported. The authorities say it is advisable that the population get correct information from official medical sources and get vaccinated. The president of the Romanian Society of Epidemiology, Doina Azoicai, has given assurances that the vaccine of the Pfizer Biontech company which arrived in Romania is safe, efficient and provides protection even if new variants of the virus emerge in the meantime. In another development, on Thursday more than 4,300 COVID-19 cases were reported after the processing of almost 21,500 tests. The total number of cases since the onset of the pandemic has exceeded 632,000, with 15,760 deaths reported. The number of Romanians abroad infected with the new coronavirus reached 7,056 and 130 Romanians from abroad have died from COVID-19.
Protests – Several trade union organizations from the defense and public order domains joined the court clerks in Romania to protest on Thursday in front of the Bucharest-based headquarters of the Interior Ministry and of the prefect’s offices across Romania against the decision to freeze salaries and benefits in the public sector in 2021. Passed on Wednesday through an emergency decree by the new government, the decision was also criticized by trade unions from the health and education domains.
Earthquake - Romania was quick to send humanitarian aid to Croatia, after a series of earthquakes that hit the region of Petrinja. Following the activation of the European civil protection mechanism, the Romanian government on Wednesday decided to grant free emergency humanitarian aid to the Croatian authorities that requested support for Petrinja, the most affected region in Croatia. The Romanian humanitarian convoy, which left from Arad (west) on Thursday heading for Croatia, carries first necessity goods: living containers, tents, beds, mattresses and sleeping bags. The Romanian team participating in the mission is made up of 30 people. Saturday will be a day of national mourning in Croatia in memory of the victims.
Brexit agreement - Great Britain is definitively leaving the EU, after almost 50 years, tonight at 1:00 a.m. Romania’s 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 the relations between the EU and the UK starting on Friday, January 1, 2021. The European leaders considered the moment "of historic importance" and "a major step forward", an extremely important turning point. The document was also endorsed by the British Parliament. The new regulations are to be ratified by the European Parliament and the parliaments of the 27 member states. The UK, which officially left the EU on 31 January 2020, will definitively leave the EU single market and the customs union on 31 December, but following this agreement, no tariffs will be imposed on the merchandise originating in the EU or the UK.
Energy - Romania's electricity market is getting liberalized as of January 1, 2021. Analysts accuse the authorities of having mismanaged the situation, consequently the price of energy could rise by up to 26% for some consumers. The cause is not the liberalization itself, but the lack of information available to the population. At risk 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 that will automatically pass to the free market as of January 1. Active consumers, namely those who get informed 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 served a universal service contract, the most expensive on the market, irrespective of the supplier. (tr. L. Simion)