EU Council: Romania has once again failed to take effective action to correct a significant budget deviation
SENTENCE - The Social Democratic Party, the main party in the ruling coalition in Romania, decided in the emergency meeting held on Friday to support Liviu Dragnea further hold his public positions, namely, that of leader of the Social Democratic Party and Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. On Thursday, Dragnea was sentenced to prison for instigation to abuse of power by a court of first instance. The executive president of the Social Democratic Party, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, believes that Dragnea should benefit from the presumption of innocence until the final ruling, while the party vice-president and Interior Minister Carmen Dan claims that the sentence issued by the High Court of Cassation and Justice is politically motivated. The High Court of Cassation and Justice has said in a communique that Government and Parliament members do not have the legal competence to state that the application of the law is under the influence of the arbitary. The communique also says that the unfolding of judicial procedures in a state of law is based on the fact that judges are the only ones qualified to have a say on how grounded an accusation is, based on the evidence in the file. The right-wing opposition wants Dragnea to resign from his public offices.
REVOLUTION CASE - Romania's President Klaus Iohannis has submitted to the Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader the request for the criminal prosecution of the retired admiral Emil Cico Dumitrescu, investigated for crimes against humanity committed during the 1989 Revolution. The first post-communist president Ion Iliescu and the former prime-minister Petre Roman, as well as his deputy Gelu Voican Voiculescu are also being prosecuted in the Revolution case. They allegedly masterminded a military diversion, aimed to legitimize them as leaders of the power that took over after the communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu attempted to flee, a diversion in which many people were wounded and killed and which caused significant material damage. 1,166 people died in the events of December 1989, 800 of them after the toppling of the Ceausescu regime.
JUSTICE LAWS - The Romanian President Klaus Iohannis believes that the adoption, as soon as possible, of an interim decision of the Venice Commission as regards the justice laws in Romania is extremely necessary, state counsellor Bogdan Dima has said before the plenary session of the Venice Commission. The Law on the functioning of the Higher Council of Magistracy, just like the ones regarding judicial organization and the status of judges and prosecutors, is on the agenda of the talks that the chairman of the parliamentary committee in charge with the laws, Florin Iordache, is having at the plenary session of the Venice Commission, the advisory body of the Council of Europe in the field of constitutional law. Iordache has stated that the three bills are in line with the opinions expressed by the Venice Commission and do not affect the independence of the judiciary. A Venice Commission delegation has recently paid a visit to Bucharest, to analyze the justice laws. Their modification, in the form wanted by the coalition formed by the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats has been criticized by the right-wing opposition, magistrates' associations and many civil society voices.
DECISION - The EU Council has adopted a decision establishing that Romania has once again failed to take effective action to correct a significant budget deviation and is asked to take urgent measures in this respect. The Council issued a new recommendation, the third to Romania since June 2017 under the EU's 'significant deviation procedure'. The Council recommends that Romania take measures to ensure that the nominal growth of net primary government expenditure does not exceed 3.3% in 2018 and 5.1% in 2019, representing an annual structural adjustment of 0.8% of GDP in both years. This will put Romania on an appropriate adjustment path towards its medium-term budgetary objective. Any windfall gains should be used for deficit reduction, and budgetary consolidation measures should secure a lasting improvement. The Council set a deadline of 15 October 2018 for Romania to report on action taken.
CENTER - The Romanian Defense Minister Mihai Fifor has announced that a recovery center for soldiers returned from theaters of operations abroad will be established near Targoviste, in southern Romania. Investment might start next year. The project is an initiative of the Veterans' Association and of the Disabled Veterans' Association.
MILITARY DRILL – Troops, equipment and vehicles of the US Army have started to arrive in Romania and Bulgaria for a two-month rotation, in support of the Atlantic Resolve Operation, the Romanian Defense Ministry announced on Friday. The rotation of the ‘IRONHORSE’ brigade will start in Romania, with a part of equipment and troops going further, to Bulgaria. The American soldiers will train alongside Romanian troops from the air and land forces with a view to enhancing interoperability between the participating units, the release also reads.
MOLDOVA – Moldova’s Court of Appeal endorsed on Thursday the invalidation of the early elections for the office of mayor of the capital Chisinau. The second round of the ballot was won on June 3rd by the representative of the pro-European opposition, Andrei Nastase, who defeated the pro-Russia socialist Ion Ceban. Nastase has announced he will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Justice and has called for street protests. The decisions made by the courts have already triggered protests in the country and reactions from the European Union and the US Embassy in Chisinau, who have called for the appeal procedures to be carried out in a transparent manner. In Bucharest, the Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu has warned that the invalidation of elections might affect the stability of the republic, and the right-wing opposition has voiced support for Nastase. If Nastase's win is not validated by a higher instance, Chisinau will be headed by an interim mayor until the local election normally due next year.
(Translated by Elena Enache)