DEBATE – The European Parliament in Strasbourg is today hosting a debate analyzing the rule of law and judicial overhaul in Romania. The decision to hold the debate was taken on January 18 in the European Parliament, in response to the ruling coalition’s modifications to the justice laws, which were harshly criticized by magistrates’ associations, the opposition as well as the European Union. On Tuesday Justice Minister Tudorel Toader met in Strasbourg with European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans as well as members of the Party of European Socialists, discussing the justice laws and their implementation, as well as the Government’s plans to amend the criminal and criminal procedure codes. After meeting with European Socialists, Toader expressed confidence that the EU has been misinformed over the justice reform in Romania.
CORRUPTION – The problem of corruption in Romania cannot be solved just by arresting suspects, putting public employees on trial and getting sentences, Laura Codruta Kovesi, the head of the National Anticorruption Directorate said earlier today, on the sidelines of a debate titled “Fraud and corruption in the field of public procurement”. Kovesi pointed out that prosecutors’ efforts should be backed by pre-emption and anticorruption education. In turn, Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar said maintaining public trust in the Romanian judiciary should be a priority for those working in the system. Lazar went on to say that any initiative aimed at amending criminal legislation ought to be grounded on impact studies.
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT – Romania’s Constitutional Court is today discussing a notification filed by President Klaus Iohannis with respect to the modifications brought to the law allowing MPs, ministers, local elected officials, prefects and presidents of county councils to operate as individual traders. The President believes procedure was violated in this case, and that the Senate was supposed to be the decision-making body. In addition, Klaus Iohannis says that the rule-out of this incompatibility clause could diminish integrity standards and hinder the rule of law. The law goes against international integrity standards Romania has pledged to observe and is unconstitutional, the Presidency also says.
GERMANY – The Conservatives and Social-Democrats in Germany today reached an agreement to form a coalition Government, four months after legislative elections were held in this country. The Christian-Democratic Union, its ally from Bavaria the Christian-Social Union and the Social-Democratic Party managed to compromise over the distributions of ministries in the new cabinet. The parties also overcame divergences linked to the healthcare reform and tightening rules for short-term employment contracts. After a 20-hour round of talks, the German Social-Democrats, who ruled over 2013-2017 alongside the Conservatives, will get to keep the Labour, Social-Affairs, Justice, Finance and Foreign Affairs ministries. The Finance Ministry was previously held by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian-Democratic Union.
CLIMATE CHANGE – The European Parliament on Tuesday passed a law to limit industry-generated CO2 emission and start implementing the directives of the Paris agreement on climate change. Romania and Bulgaria were subject to derogation for using a new fund under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) aimed at modernizing fossil fuel-based heating systems. Informally approved by ministers from Member States, the new law will accelerate the cancellation of emission certificates on the carbon dioxide market, which cover some 40% of greenhouse gas emissions EU-wide. At the same time, under the new law, two additional funds will be created, with a view to increasing innovation and encouraging a switch to a low-carbon economy. An ETS Modernization Fund will help upgrade the energy systems of low-income EU states, including Romania and Bulgaria.
LAUNCH – The world’s most powerful space rocket, Falcon Heavy, today launched successfully from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Designed by billionaire Elon Musk, the rocket can carry twice the payload of the closest operational vehicle. Falcon Heavy is also fitted with auxiliary boosters which can be reused, thus saving millions of dollars on launch costs. Prior to the launch, the authorities said this would be a high-risk launch. Falcon Heavy was conceived to carry some 64 tons into orbit, the equivalent of five London double-deckers. Elon Musk confirmed that his 2008 Tesla Roadster is onboard the rocket, which is heading for the orbit of Mars, 225 million kilometers from Earth. Falcon Heavy is the largest and most powerful rocket launched in space after Saturn V, the rocket used for the Apollo space missions, which landed the first NASA astronauts on the Moon.
(Translated by V. Palcu)