Romanian Parliament comes back from break, resuming talks on contentious issues; Romanian minister attends European governance forum
PARLIAMENT – The Romanian Parliament resumes activities on Monday with a plenary session. In this spring session, the ruling majority plans to pass a number of bills, already attacked by the opposition. The discussions will continue to be dominated by the legislation on the justice system. Also on the agenda are proposed changes to the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedural Code. At the same time, the Social Democrats, dominating the ruling coalition, want to pass the administrative code, while the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats want to set up a national interception authority. On the other side of the isle, the Liberal Party wants to use every legal means to block any majority attempt to change the criminal law framework. The Liberals will introduce bills in the economic area, such as cutting off social assistance for people refusing to get jobs. The Save Romania Union will introduce a bill to change procedures for restraining orders in case of domestic abuse. The Popular Movement Party wants a campaign to consult citizens on reforming Parliament, while the Democratic Union of Hungarians will push for the application of Constitutional Court rulings on the justice system.
CLERKS – The Labor Ministry in Bucharest calls to dialog court clerks, in order to discuss their complaints on lowered salaries. The ministry pointed out that it had announced as early as last year that very high salaries would be slashed. Last year court clerks went on a token strike, warning with a possible general strike. Their main complaint is that the wages of people with over 15 years on the job would go down by as much as 500 lei, about 120 Euro, as a result of transferring social contribution charges from employers to employees. They also complain of a very high work volume, with some clerks putting in 12 hour days and more.
GOVERNANCE – Milan, Italy, hosts today the European Forum of Leaders for Open Governance. Decision makers, experts and representatives of civil society from across Europe discuss means of improving governance in public administration, as well as using new technologies to consolidate governance and dialog with citizens. Romania has been a member of the Steering Committee of the Partnership for Open Governance since 2015, and is represented by Romanian Deputy Prime Minister for Strategic Partnerships, Ana Birchall.
CHISINAU – While on a visit to Chisinau, Romanian Defense Minister Mihai Fifor reiterated Romania's continuing willingness to support the efforts made by the Republic of Moldova in its bid to join the European Union, as well as NATO. After meeting his Moldovan counterpart, Eugen Sturza, Fifor announced that this year 41 Moldovan military would be training in Romanian defense education institutions. At the same time, Romania created 200 more military medical school seats for Moldovan students. During official talks, the main topics were regional security and cooperation in defense, with an emphasis on joint projects aimed to bolster Moldova's bid to join the EU and NATO. Minister Fifor was accompanied on this visit by Chief of General Staff, General Nicolae Ciuca.
TENNIS – In tennis, Romanian star Simona Halep holds on to her second place in the world, according to standings published today. First place is held by Danish player Caroline Wozniacki, while Ukrainian Elena Svitolina holds third place. Five other Romanian players are in the top 100 places. They are Irina Begu, 37th, Sorana Carstea, 38th, Mihaela Buzarnescu, 43rd, Ana Bogdan, 86th, and Monica Niculescu, 92nd.
GERMANY – In Germany, Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Coalition and its Bavarian ally, the Christian Social Union, continues negotiations with the center left Social Democratic Party, attempting to form a government. The parties managed on Sunday to reach an agreement on issues such as housing, rents and digitalization, but could not reach middle ground on healthcare and the labor market. The Social Democrat youth organization is firmly against a new coalition with Chancellor Merkel, which they see as sapping even further popular support for their party. Europe's strongest economy has not had a government since the September 2017 elections, the longest time since 1949 that Germany functioned without an executive.