UPDATE: The no-confidence motion against Theresa May's cabinet fails by 325 to 306 votes
UPDATE (21:40): The motion of no confidence in Theresa May's government, tabled in Britain's Parliament by the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, in an attempt to force a general election, fails by 325 to 306 votes.
On Tuesday, the British MPs rejected by a large majority the UK's EU withdrawal agreement. The rejection of the Brexit deal is the harshest defeat for a British cabinet in modern times, and questions Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, less than 3 months before it is scheduled to take effect. Analysts predict a severe crisis in the UK. Several scenarios have been discussed, including early elections and the holding of a second referendum.
BREXIT - Britain’s government must clarify its position after Parliament voted down the Brexit agreement, the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis said in Bucharest on Wednesday. In his opinion, this decision is regrettable. He added however not that all the procedures which may lead to the approval of the deal have been used, and that the Romanians living in the UK need not worry because the European leaders are prepared for other options as well. The agreement approved by the 27 member states will not be renegotiated, the head of the Romanian state added. In turn, the Romanian Foreign Ministry writes in a communiqué that the UK’s withdrawal from the community bloc is a major priority on the agenda of the Romanian Government, particularly from the perspective of finalising this process during Romania’s mandate at the helm of the Council of the European Union.
COMPENSATORY APPEAL – The President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, on Wednesday called on the government to come up with solutions to the issue of compensatory appeal, after several cases of violence have been reported of late, perpetrated by former convicts, released from prison ahead of time, based on this law. Also on Wednesday, the Justice Minister, Tudorel Toader, announced that on Monday he will present the PM Viorica Dancila with an analysis of the compensatory appeal law and its effects, as well as with other legislative proposals. The law took effect as from the autumn of 2017 and according to it, detainees who stayed in improper conditions benefitted from 6 days of time credits for every 30 days spent in prison. Over 500 detainees were released from prison on the very first day the compensatory appeal law took effect.
PROTOCOLS – Romania’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday accepted the notification sent by the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies on the existence of a legal conflict of a constitutional nature between the Public Ministry on the one hand, and Parliament, the High Court of Cassation and Justice and the other courts, on the other, on the issue of the protocols of cooperation with the Romanian Intelligence Service, SRI, in 2009 and 2016. Romania’s Constitutional Court admitted that the protocols continue to produce effects, even after they were denounced. Romania’s Constitutional Court announced that the prosecutors’ offices and courts are to establish whether the law was infringed or not, by exceeding competences, in the case of the files based on documents compiled based on the secret protocols between the Public Ministry and SRI. Last year, the head of the Romanian Intelligence Service, Eduard Hellvig, and Romania’s Prosecutor General, Augustin Lazar, made public the existence of two legal protocols between the two institutions, on whose existence they had briefed the Superior Council of Magistracy and which were later denounced, as they were no longer necessary.
SCHENGEN The Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Meleşcanu said on Tuesday in Strasbourg that there is no reason to deny Romania’s Schengen accession, and voiced hopes that a solution will be reached during the Romanian presidency of the Council of the EU. He promised that the Romanian presidency will allow for “very open” discussions with the countries opposing Romania’s entry, and will invite those countries to present the reasons why they are against Romania’s inclusion in the visa-free area. “We hope to be as convincing as possible and to reach a solution,” Teodor Melescanu added.
PROTEST – Some of the miners with the Oltenia Energy Compound (in the south-west) continue their strike, being discontent about the 150 Euro pay rise proposed by the company management, but those who had gone on hunger strike gave up on that form of protest. The miners call for 45% pay rises, holiday vouchers and better working conditions. The energy, economy and finance ministers, respectively on Wednesday had an operative meeting with decision makers in the energy field to analyse the effects produced by the miners’ protest and also to find a solution and unblock the situation. Thermal power plants are currently functioning at normal parameters but they will run out of coal stocks in a few days time and the supplying will not be resumed.
FLU Nine people have died of the flu in Romania so far. According to the authorities, the 9th victim is a 40-year old man who had previous medical conditions and had not been vaccinated. The man tested positive for the AH1 flu virus. Because of the large number of viral respiratory infections, visitor access has been restricted in many hospitals in the country. Nearly 53,000 respiratory infections and over 100 flu cases have been confirmed since the first week of the year.
TENNIS The Romanian player Irina Begu (70 WTA) has been defeated by the Czech Petra Kvitova (6 WTA), 1-6, 3-6, in the second round of the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year. The other Romanians still in the race are world no 1 Simona Halep and Marius Copil. Also on Wednesday, in the women’s doubles, the Romanians Irina Maria Bara and Monica Niculescu qualified into the second round, after beating the Spaniards Lara Arruabarrena / Arantxa Parra Santonja, 6-1, 6-1. In the next stage they are facing the winners of the match pitting Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) / Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) against Mona Barthel (Germany) / Sofia Kenin (USA). Other Romanians play in the doubles: Irina Begu and Mihaela Buzărnescu, Sorana Cîrstea playing together with Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko and Raluca Olaru with Galina Voskoboeva (Kazakhstan). (Translated by AM Popescu and D. Vijeu)