Strasbourg – The European Commissioner for Justice, Věra Jourová, on Wednesday reiterated, in the plenum of the European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg, the European Commission’s appeal on Romania’s Parliament to start debates on the modifications of the justice laws in line with Brussels’ recommendations and to obtain a consensus. The European official said that the European Commission was ready to continue dialogue with the Romanian authorities and offer its support. She added that after 10 years of constant effort, Romania has one of the best judicial systems. The European Commissioner for Justice also recalled that in December 2017, in the latest Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification report, the EC expressed concern with the modifications to the justice laws and debates have extended ever since. The debate in Strasbourg regarding the rule of law and the reform of the judiciary in Romania was decided on January 18 by the EP following the modifications brought to the justice laws late last year by the governing coalition in Romania. The modifications were harshly criticized by the associations of magistrates, the opposition and the EU.
CCR – The Constitutional Court of Romania on Wednesday postponed for March 6th making a decision related to the notification made by President Klaus Iohannis, which refers to the modifications brought to a law under which MPs, ministers, councilors/local officials, prefects and the county council presidents can also hold the position of individual trader. President Iohannis says that in this case the procedure for adopting the law was violated and that the Senate was supposed to be the decision-making body. He also added that by eliminating these incompatibility criteria, the integrity standards will be diminished and the rule of law will be weakened. According to the President, the respective law runs counter to the international integrity standards which Romania assumed, thus infringing Constitutional provisions.
Brussels – The European Commission estimates that Romania’s economic growth will slow down, the growth rate dropping from 4.5% in 2018 to 4% in 2019, shows the 2018 Winter Economic Forecast published Wednesday by the community body. Estimates show that the rise in private consumption will not be very high this year because inflation impacts more the real available revenues and the salary increase will slow down. Nevertheless, private consumption will continue to be the main engine behind economic growth in 2018 and 2019. Investments are estimated to grow if supported by the implementation of projects funded from European money, say the European body representatives. The EC also estimates that inflation will increase following the higher pressure caused by demand, and the effects of tax cuts will not be seen. The inflation rate is estimated to reach 4.1% in 2018 and 3% in 2019. In another development, also on Wednesday, the Board of the National Bank of Romania decided to increase the monetary policy interest rate at 2.25% per year from 2%.
German coalition deal – The Conservatives and Social-Democrats in Germany on Wednesday 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 agree on the distribution 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 keep the Labor, Social-Affairs, Justice, Finance and Foreign Affairs ministries. The Finance Ministry was previously held by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian-Democratic Union. (news translated and updated by Lacramioara Simion)