REPORT – Romanian Justice Minister Tudorel Toader on Thursday presented the conclusions of a report on the managerial activity of the National Anticorruption Directorate. In his report the Justice Minister said he will start proceedings to dismiss the chief of the National Corruption Directorate, Laura Codruta Kovesi. He will send the report to the prosecutors’ department of the Superior Council of Magistracy and to Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis, who is the decision-maker in this case. We recall that last week, he cut short an official visit to Japan after prime minister Viorica Dancila asked him to return to Romania and clarify allegations about the National Anticorruption Directorate circulating in the media. Earlier, the former Social Democrat MP Vlad Cosma, who received a 5-year-sentence for corruption in a court of first instance, accused anticorruption investigators of using him to fabricate evidence against other Social Democratic politicians. The head of the Directorate Laura Codruta Kovesi firmly denied her investigators were using any illegal means, while president Klaus Iohannis reiterated his trust in the anticorruption body. On Wednesday evening, some 100 persons gathered in front of the president’s office to protest against the Directorate head, accusing her of a number of abuses, and against what they called the president’s passiveness.
PRESIDENCY – Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis will attend an informal meeting of the European Council held on Friday in Brussels, the president’s office has announced. Talks will tackle the multiannual financial framework beyond 2020 and institutional aspects of the European Union. Klaus Iohannis is expected to emphasise that during its presidency of the EU Council in the first part of next year, Romania will seek a political agreement on a modern and efficient EU budget beyond 2020. The talks in Brussels are also expected to look at issues related to the composition of the European Parliament for the 2019-2024 parliamentary term. The Romanian president backs the Parliament’s proposal for a new distribution of seats in the next term, which will increase Romania’s seats to 33, one more than it currently has.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL – In its annual human rights report, Amnesty International has criticised the attempt to decriminalise acts of corruption and the conditions in Romanian prisons. Published on Thursday in London, the report mentions that the attempt of the government coalition in Bucharest to ease anti-corruption legislation last year sparked wide-scale street protests in Romania and abroad. The Amnesty International report also notes that European and international institutions criticised the overcrowding of prisons and the detention conditions. Another observation made by Amnesty International is that in 2017, the Rroma in Romania faced discriminatory practices from the authorities.
GRECO – The Romanian Parliament’s special committee on the justice laws on Thursday met with representatives of the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). The latter also met with employers’ associations in the field of justice, representatives of NGOs, civil society and public institutions. GRECO is due to issue an additional report on the way Romania complies with recommendations to prevent and combat corruption. Last year GRECO presented a report highlighting the insufficient progress Romania has reported in terms of preventing corruption at the level of MPs, judges and prosecutors.
ENVIRONMENT - Romania's Environment Minister Gratiela Gavrilescu on
Thursday met in Bucharest with Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for the
Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fishing. Gavrilescu told a press conference
that by the end of May Bucharest will have an integrated air quality plan. The
Romanian official also presented the status for implementing the air quality
plan for the cities of Brasov and Iasi. In turn, the European Commissioner said
Romania has made important progress in the field of the environment. Romania is
committed to fulfilling environment legislation, Commissioner Vella added. We
recall that last month the European Commission launched infringement
proceedings against Romania and another eight European countries to take
measures to diminish air pollution.
FLU – The flu has killed 48 people in Romania this season according to the latest toll published by the National Centre for the Supervision and Control of Communicable Diseases. 500 people have the flu virus, mostly in Bucharest and the counties of Constanta, in the south-east, Brasov, in the centre, and Iasi, in the north-east. The authorities advise people to get vaccinated, and the health ministry says around 80,000 vaccine doses are still available. So far 920,000 have received vaccination. The healthcare minister Sorina Pintea says Romania is not faced with a flu epidemic.
EU FUNDS – The absorption rate of European funds is unsatisfactory and Romania risks losing 800 million euros under the Regional Operational Programme, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said on Thursday at the General Assembly of the Union of County Councils. She called on the local and central authorities to share the problems they face in this respect so that solutions can be quickly found. The government’s mission is for Romania to climb to the top half of a ranking of the Union’s strongest economies by 2020, Dancila also said. To achieve this goal, her cabinet is considering investing more in infrastructure, increasing people’s incomes, reforming the administration and reducing bureaucracy.
MEETING – Romanian Police chief Catalin Ionita on Thursday met in Munich with the head of Bavaria’s Police Department, Wilhelm Schmidbauer. Talks focused on exchanging information and cooperation in the field of organised crime. Cooperation between the two parties is based on a joint declaration of the Romanian Interior Ministry and Bavaria’s Interior Ministry, signed in 2004 in Munich.
(Translated by C. Mateescu & V. Palcu)