GOVERNMENT – The ministers nominated to be part of the new PSD-ALDE cabinet led by Viorica Dancila are today being heard by the relevant committees of the Romanian Parliament. Also today the Parliament of Romania, meeting in a plenary session, is due to vote on the validation of the new cabinet. Improving the healthcare system, amending the Education Law, modernising legislation in the judicial system, going ahead with the process of decentralisation, increasing the pension point and reducing the VAT are some of the measures included in the governing program. Furthermore, as regards this year, the PSD-ALDE ruling coalition wants to simplify the taxation system and eliminate some taxes, among which the solidarity tax and the tax on food additives. The opposition parties, the National Liberal Party, Save Romania Union and the People’s Movement Party have made public their decision to vote against the new cabinet, whom they do not expect to have a spectacular performance. The Liberals are also discontent about the hearings timetable, saying the timeslot allotted to each person nominated at the helm of a ministry is too short to have solid talks. The seat allocation formula shows PSD and ALDE are holding a fragile majority, and if several MPs in power are absent from the vote or vote against the cabinet, the government led by Viorica Dăncilă might not be validated. The new cabinet is made up of 28 members, having four deputy prime ministers, as compared to three in the previous cabinet.
TALKS – Romania’s President, Klaus Iohannis, will meet in Brussels on Wednesday with the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. The focal points on the agenda of talks include the judicial overhaul, the fight against corruption and Romania’s holding the rotating presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2019. The Commission has recently voiced its concern about the latest developments in Romania and called on the Romanian Parliament to reconsider the changes brought to the justice laws. The independence of the judiciary and its capacity to efficiently fight corruption are the fundaments of having a strong Romania within the EU, the President and the First Vice-President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and Frans Timmermans, respectively, have stated in a joint declaration. At the end of 2017, the parliamentary majority made up of the Social Democratic Party-the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Romania adopted changes to the justice laws, raising concern among European bodies and states, generating wide-scale protests in the country and stirring harsh criticism from the magistrates and the right wing opposition.
EU FUNDS – Romania received European funds worth 45.7 billion Euros from the EU budget, accounting, on an average, for 2.8% of the GDP, in the 2007-2017 period, the governor of the National Bank of Romania, Mugur Isărescu, has today said in a conference also attended by the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Creţu. The central bank governor has also said that after taking into consideration Romania’s contribution to the EU budget, net inflows of European funds stood at 30.4 billion Euro, that is 1.8% of the GDP per year on an average. Corina Creţu has today started a two-day official visit to Romania. The agenda of the visit also includes a meeting with the prime minister designated by the PSD-ALDE ruling coalition, Viorica Dăncilă, for talks on European funds. The European official has said she comes to Bucharest to lay the foundations for a tight and fruitful cooperation with the new Government, with regard to the optimal use of resources available under the multi-annual 2014-2020 financial framework and to hold talks on the new post-2020 financial framework.
TENNIS – Romanian women tennis players Sorana Cîrstea (no.36 WTA) and Irina Begu (no.37 WTA) are taking part in the Saint Petersburg tennis tournament, this week, with 750,000 dollars in prize money up for grabs. On Tuesday, Cîrstea will meet Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova (no.26 WTA), whereas Begu will face a player coming from the playoffs. The first seed of the tournament is Danish Caroline Wozniacki, who this week has become no.1 WTA, instead of Romanian Simona Halep. The two tennis players met on Saturday in the finals of the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year. Halep gave up playing in the tournament in Russia.