Parliament to convene on January 29, with Government taking responsibility for election law amendments
PARLIAMENT The Parliament of Romania will convene on January 29, for a joint session of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The Government will ask the 2 chambers for a confidence vote over a bill reintroducing the 2-round election system for mayors, arguing that this will improve democratic standards at local community level. The election of mayors in 2 rounds, says the Government, will give local elected officials more legitimacy. President Klaus Iohannis had previously asked Parliament to convene in a special session for the amendment of election laws. The Social Democratic Party in opposition announced that, jointly with the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania, will table a no-confidence motion against the Liberal Government.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS The Romanian foreign minister Bogdan Aurescu took part on Monday in a EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels. The agenda included talks on Sahel region and on climate diplomacy, and a working lunch focusing on developments in the Middle East. As regards Sahel, Aurescu mentioned the dramatic deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation, and argued for a more substantial engagement of the EU in the region. He also emphasised the importance of consistent and quicker implementation of the Mali peace agreement. On the other hand, the Romanian diplomat said the EU must promote measures to address climate change among G20 and big polluters, as well as through a regional approach. With respect to the Iranian nuclear deal, Bogdan Aurescu welcomed the decision of the EU three to trigger the dispute resolution mechanism.
POLLUTION The Environment Minister Costel Alexe Monday had a meeting with representatives of Brasov, Iasi and Bucharest, the 3 Romanian cities that are currently under an infringement procedure because of serious air quality problems. The Environment Minister said the local authorities understood that the agreed measures must be implemented at a much higher pace. The Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea said a lot more drastic measures will be taken with respect to the sanitation companies which must wash the streets more often. She explained that the dust in Bucharest is primarily caused by private construction sites, as well as by sites developed by the local authorities. In turn, the Iasi Mayor Mihai Chirica says local administrations cannot take all the necessary measures by themselves, and need governmental support.
RUSSIA Russia’s president Vladimir Putin Monday presented Parliament with his suggestions to amend the Constitution, less than a week after a surprising announcement regarding a reform of the country’s political system. The bill includes measures such as strengthening the role of Parliament in appointing the prime minister and limiting the number of presidential terms in office to 2, instead of 2 consecutive terms. Another provision is the establishment of a State Council to “determine the main directions of home and foreign policy.” Monday’s amendments seem to rule out a prospective return to Kremlin for Putin after 2024, when his current term in office ends, but observers expect him to try to secure his control over the country after that date. Putin wants to remain Russia’s ruler for life, his main opponent Aleksei Navalny has said.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)