US The US Congress Thursday affirmed Democrat Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election of November 3rd. This was the last step prior to Biden’s inauguration scheduled for January 20th. The validation came after a long and troublesome day, marred by an assault on the Capitol by angry Trump supporters. Trump admitted the end of his term in office and promised “an orderly transition.” At least 4 people died and 52 were arrested during the storming of the Capitol, police sources said. Leaders of democratic countries around the world voiced perplexity and concern, condemning the violence in Washington.
VACCINE The European Commission Wednesday authorised the sale of a second anti-COVID-19 vaccine, the one developed by the US company Moderna, and previously greenlighted by the European Medicines Agency. The EC president Ursula von der Leyen said EU citizens will have another 160 million doses of vaccine available. According to AFP, over 1 million Europeans, accounting for 0.2% of the total, have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with Denmark, Germany and Italy on top positions. For the time being the only vaccine given in EU member states is the one produced by Pfizer/BioNTech.
COVID-19 Over 58,000 people have received the anti-COVID-19 vaccine in Romania so far. A third batch of 150,000 doses arrived on Wednesday. The immunisation programme, whose first stage covered medical workers, started in late December. The second stage, scheduled to begin at the end of next week, will target vulnerable people and workers in key sectors. Authorities estimate the third phase, covering the rest of the citizens, may start in April. Since the onset of the pandemic, over 654,000 coronavirus infections have been reported in Romania, with the death toll standing at nearly 16,300.
BUDGET The president of Romania Klaus Iohannis has a meeting today with PM Florin Cîţu, deputy PM Dan Barna and other Cabinet members, including the ministers of transport, economy, justice, investments and European projects, healthcare and research. The meeting comes amid talks on the 2021 state budget bill, which the Government plans to submit to Parliament in early February. PM Florin Cîţu asked ministers to present updated reports on the institutions they coordinate.
SCHOOLS The Romanian education minister Sorin Cîmpeanu had talks today with trade unions and students and teachers associations, to look at the measures required in order to reopen schools, and to mitigate losses incurred by the education system during the health crisis. He promised to take all suggestions into account, so that the best education conditions may be ensured as of the second half of the school year. The minister added that this year's national exams will be held face to face. Romanian students resume online classes on January 11th, and could return to face-to-face classes only on February 8th, when the second half of the academic year begins, should the situation allow it. The Social Democrats and AUR party in opposition, and the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania, in the ruling coalition, support the reopening of schools.
CORRUPTION Former environment minister Costel Alexe appeared today before the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, to be notified that prosecution has been commenced against him for bribe-taking and inciting embezzlement. Prosecutors claim that Alexe, currently chairman of the Iaşi County Council, received products worth over 20,000 euro in exchange for the release of CO2 certificates to the Galaţi Steel Works. Costel Alexe denies the accusations. (tr. A.M. Popescu)