EU The Romanian Economy Minister, Niculae Bădălău, is chairing in Brussels today the first meeting of the internal market and industry section of the Competitiveness Council (COMPET), under the Romanian presidency of the Council of the EU. The agenda of the Council meeting includes matters concerning the internal market and industry, the strategy for the single market for goods and services, while seeking to improve the competitiveness of the European economy. The Council will also exchange opinions on the single market overview process, and will hold a public debate on the impact of artificial intelligence on EU industry. Participants will also adopt conclusions on promoting development and the use of artificial intelligence.
JUDICIARY The High Court of Cassation and Justice has once again postponed, to March 18th, the appeal filed by the Social Democratic leader Liviu Dragnea against a 3-and-a-half-year prison sentence he had received from the court of first instance in a corruption-related case. In June 2018, the Supreme Court sentenced Dragnea for instigating abuse of office, in a case involving the fictitious employment of 2 individuals who were on the payroll of the Teleorman Directorate General for Social Assistance and Child Protection, but who actually worked exclusively for the Social Democratic Party. Liviu Dragnea, who was the head of the County Council at the time, was accused of having ordered the hiring. He claims to be innocent and has appealed the initial ruling, but the trial has been repeatedly postponed, amid controversies regarding the membership of the 5-judge panels at the Supreme Court. In 2016, Dragnea also received a suspended 2-year prison sentence for attempted election fraud, but last summer the Supreme Court reversed the decision to suspend his sentence.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS The Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Meleşcanu is taking part today in a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels. The agenda includes an assessment of the situation in Ukraine, ahead of this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The EU foreign ministers will also discuss Syria, the latest developments in Venezuela and the outcomes of the first meeting of the international contact group for Venezuela. Decisions and conclusions are also expected as regards the situation in Yemen, diplomacy in the context of climate change, as well as the Union’s human rights priorities as part of the United Nations this year.
STATISTICS 1.6% of Romanian employees were working in culture-related fields in 2017, as against the 3.8% the EU average, according to data made public by the European Statistics Bureau, Eurostat, on Monday. Around 8.7 million EU citizens were working in culture-related fields or had professions in this field. The highest rates were reported in Estonia (5.5%) and Sweden (4.8%). According to Eurostat, in 2017 EU households allotted an average 8.5% of their total expenses to entertainment and culture, with Denmark and Sweden spending as much as 11.5% and 11% respectively, compared to Greece with 4.6% and Romania with 5.8%. The total expenses for entertainment and culture across the EU in 2017 reached 710 billion euros, accounting for 4.6% of the Union’s GDP.
FLU In Romania, the number of deaths caused by the flu has reached 131. According to the National Centre for Infectious Disease Monitoring and Control, the last victims are a woman and 2 men. They had previous conditions and had not been immunised against the flu. Romania is currently struggling with a flu epidemic.
EUROVISION Romania’s representative in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Tel Aviv in May, is Ester Peony with a song called "On a Sunday". Twelve songs competed in the national final last night. For the first time, the winner of the Romanian final was decided by an international jury and the public. The semi-finals in Israel are scheduled to take place on May 14th and 16th, and the final on May 18th. Romania will compete in the second semi-final, alongside Switzerland, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, the Republic of Moldova, Latvia, Denmark and Armenia. The country’s best performances so far were 2 third-places (Luminiţa Anghel & Sistem - Kiev, 2005; Paula Seling and Ovi - Oslo, 2010) and a fourth place (Mihai Trăistariu - Athens, 2006).
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)