DRAFT BUDGET - According to experts with the Fiscal Council in Bucharest, Romania's budget deficit at the end of this year might stand at around 3% of the GDP, against an overestimation of revenues from VAT and social contributions. The experts believe that, in the event of macroeconomic developments less favourable than those taken into account in building the budget, the level could be even exceeded. Fitch rating agency too believes that the budget deficit target proposed by the Romanian Government is unrealistic, and the premises that the 2019 budget is based on, such as the economic growth rate, are too optimistic. The 2019 draft budget is based on a 5.5% economic growth rate, a budget deficit of 2.5% of the GDP and an annual inflation rate of 2.8%.
JHA - Over February 6-8, Bucharest is hosting an informal meeting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, under the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The participants will discuss terrorism, migration and asylum seeking, the Schengen area and means of developing judicial collaboration in civil and commercial matters. Attending the meeting will be, among others, the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, the Eurojust president Ladislav Hamran, the Executive Director of Europol, Catherine de Bolle, and the Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri.
DIPLOMACY - The Romanian foreign minister, Teodor Meleşcanu, has held bilateral talks with his counterparts from Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, on the sidelines of the EU and the League of Arab States ministerial meeting held in Brussels on Monday. During the talks, the Romanian foreign minister approached issues related to the future bilateral agenda, laying emphasis on boosting political, economic and sectoral cooperation. Meleşcanu has reiterated Romania's commitment to maintaining its support for Iraq. He has also expressed concern over the escalation of violence in Yemen and gave assurances that Romania will get actively involved in all the EU's demarches to politically solve the conflict in the region. The Romanian foreign minister has also reiterated Bucharest's support for Lebanon's unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as for the European and international initiatives aimed at consolidating the stability of the Lebanese state.
EUROPEAN CHIEF PROSECUTOR - The former chief prosecutor of the Anti-Corruption Directorate in Romania, Laura Codruta Kövesi, is the first on the list of preferences for the position of European Chief Prosecutor. She is followed by prosecutors from France and Germany, respectively. The selection procedure for the position of European Chief Prosecutor does not depend on the candidate's country of origin, as it is unfolding exclusively at European level. The New European Prosecutor's Office will closely cooperate with OLAF, to detect and investigate cases of fraud all across the European Union. The European Prosecutor's Office will have competence to research and prosecute crimes which impact the EU budget, such as corruption and fraud related to European funds. Laura Codruta Kovesi has been removed from office as chief prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate, following a decision issued by the Constitutional Court. Earlier, President Klaus Iohannis had rejected as ungrounded the proposal to remove Kovesi from office, a proposal formulated by the Justice Minister, Tudorel Toader.
POPE - Pope Francis on Tuesday ended his historical visit to the United Arab Emirates, with a grand mass celebrated in the open, in a country which authorises the practice of the Christian faith, on condition this is done in churches, FP reports. One of the organisers has announced some 170,000 people attended the event, an unprecedented public gathering in the United Arab Emirates. Participating have been Catholic believers from some 100 countries, alongside some 4,000 Muslims. According to the local media, that was the largest gathering ever in that small Gulf country, which is home to approximately half of the 2 million Catholic expats who live on the Arabian Peninsula. On Monday, the Pope gave a speech in the United Arab Emirates, urging people to build bridges between peoples and cultures.
FLU - The number of people who have succumbed to the flu in Romania stands at 82, according to the latest data released by National Centre for Surveillance and Control of Communicable Diseases. The last three people who succumbed to the flu had pre-existing conditions and had not been vaccinated. A flu epidemic has officially been declared in Romania, because of the fast-paced spread of the virus and the high number of flu-infections and deaths.
TENNIS - Romanian tennis player Marius Copil on Monday qualified for the eighth finals of the ATP tennis tournament in Sofia, with over 500,000 Euro in prize money up for grabs, after he defeated the Swiss Stan Wawrinka, in three sets 3-6, 7-6, 6-4. Copil, no. 56 ATP, got his first victory over his famous contender, no.57 ATP and three times winner of a Grand Slam. Copil will meet in the eighth finals the winner of the match between Spain's Fernando Verdasco, 6th seed, and Bulgarian Alexandar Lazarov.