The Romanian Monica Niculescu qualified into the quarter-finals of the Shenzhen tournament
EU The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, congratulated Romania on taking over the EU Council presidency on January 1, for the first time since its accession, and wished it good luck. I am confident that you will deliver and I am looking forward to working with you, Donald Tusk posted on his official Twitter account. Between January 1 and June 30, Romania will have to handle an EU agenda filled with political developments and dossiers with a decisive impact on the future of the bloc, including Brexit, the negotiation of the forthcoming EU budget, the European Parliament elections due in May. The European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu says Romania should use all the opportunities entailed by the EU Council presidency, including in terms of the cohesion policy for 2021-2027. In a Facebook post, Creţu adds that both herself and the European Commission as a whole are ready to support the Romanian authorities for a successful presidency.
EURO Twenty years since the introduction of the single currency, high-ranking EU officials, including the head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, emphasised the importance of the European currency. The Euro has become a symbol of unity, sovereignty and stability, said the European Commission chief, who is one of the signatories of the treaty that created the single currency. I know that was the most important signature I ever made, Juncker added in a news release. 20 years on, we have a generation that only knows the Euro as a national currency, the head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi said in his turn. The Euro became the official currency of 11 EU member states on January 1, 1999, with notes and coins going into circulation in 2002. At present the Euro is used by some 340 million people in 19 of the 28 member countries, and is the second most important currency in the world after the US dollar.
JAPAN Emperor Akihito, who is to step down in April, sent his hopes for peace for his nation and the entire world, in his last New Year’s address, delivered before a record number of people who came to see the event, according to Kyodo and dpa. On April 30, at the age of 85, Akihito will be the first Japanese sovereign to relinquish power in the last 200 years. In 2016 he announced his intention to withdraw from power, putting forth concerns that his old age would prevent him from accomplishing his duties. Akihito became the 125th Emperor of Japan on January 7, 1989, at 55 years of age, after the death of his father, Hirohito, in whose name Japan fought in World War 2. Akihito’s oldest son, Prince Naruhito, will be crowned on May 1.
JUSTICE The Romanian Justice Minister Tudorel Toader said in an interview aired by a private television channel on Tuesday that he would like to close the subject of a government decree regarding amnesty and pardons. He emphasised that the most his ministry can do is to approve a bill initiated in Parliament on this topic. Toader also said that he has never done and will never do something likely to create a situation similar to the one triggered by the 2017 government decree no. 13, which brought hundreds of thousands of Romanians into the streets and prompted criticism from the EU and the USA.
ELECTIONS The elections for the European Parliament will be held between May 23rd and 26th this year. MEPs are elected every 5 years, and as of this year the Parliament will have 705 members, as compared to 751 at present. This is because of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Of the 73 seats currently held by UK, 46 will be eliminated and the other 27 will be distributed to EU member states that are under-represented in the Union’s legislative body. Romania gets 33 seats, 1 more than at present.
TENNIS The Romanian player Monica Niculescu (99 WTA), Wednesday qualified into the quarter-finals of the WTA tournament in Shenzhen (China), after defeating the Czech Kristyna Pliskova 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-4. In the quarter-finals Niculescu will play against the Chinese Yafan Wang (70 WTA). Tomorrow in the same tournament another Romanian, Sorana Cîrstea (84 WTA) takes on the American Alison Riske (62 WTA).
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)