A retrospective of the most important events of the week.
Romania’s mandate at the helm of the Council of the EU ends on June 30
Romania’s mandate at the helm of the Council of the EU ends at the end of the month. The four main topics on Bucharest’s agenda were “Europe of Convergence”, “Europe of Security”, “Europe as a stronger global actor” and “Europe of shared values.” Romania’s mandate at the helm of the Council of the EU was marked by key moments such as the Summit in Sibiu, held on May 9, on Europe’s Day, and the European Parliament elections held between May 23 and 26. At the Summit in Brussels, where the Romanian head of state Klaus Iohannis made a presentation of the results obtained by Romania during its 6-month Presidency of the Council of the EU, the European leaders hailed the activity carried out by Romania with regard to the multi-annual financial framework, where agreements were reached on 10 sectoral programmes out of the 37 proposed by the European Commission. The Romanian Presidency was a very good one, with a large number files that have been successfully completed, president Iohannis said before the European Council meeting, also recalling that the summit in Sibiu, on May 9th, was a globally acknowledged success.
New regulations for the vote abroad
In Bucharest, Parliament's joint special committee in charge with drafting, amending and completing the legislative proposals on elections has decided that voting for the Romanians living abroad will last three days, more precisely Friday, Saturday and Sunday and that postal voting will also be allowed at the presidential elections. Also, the additional voting lists abroad will be issued electronically and the Romanian Foreign Ministry will ask the host countries to provide the exact number of Romanian citizens on their territory. The members of the committee have also decided that those who are still queuing in front of the polling stations at 9 p.m., when the stations are normally closed, will be allowed to vote anyway. The decision was made after on May 26th, many Romanians abroad queued for hours and some of them did not manage to cast their vote. The changes adopted by the committee will have to be endorsed in plenary session on Wednesday.
The Venice Commission criticizes Romania and makes recommendations
The Venice Commission issued a new negative opinion on Romania’s justice reform, specifically on the emergency ordinances 7 and 12 the Government adopted at the beginning of this year, which changed some provisions of the three controversial justice laws the Parliament voted in the summer of 2018. The Venice Commission also criticized the changes to the justice laws in an opinion issued in October 2018, asking Romania to reconsider some of the most controversial provisions. The commission notes that the Romanian Government continues to make legislative amendments by emergency ordinances and calls on the Romanian authorities to drastically limit the use of such instruments. The Venice Commission also says that the reasons for creating a special section for investigating magistrates, with loosely defined jurisdiction, remains unclear and risks being an obstacle to the fight against corruption and organized crime. President Klaus Iohannis has said that the message conveyed by the Venice Commission is very clear and that the government has the duty to repair the damage caused to the justice system by immediately putting into practice the recommendations of the international bodies.
The new pension law, passed by Parliament
The new public pension law was endorsed on Wednesday by the Chamber of Deputies after being reexamined, as it had been declared partially unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. The new law provides for a gradual increase in the pension point from 1,265 lei on September 1st this year to 1,775 lei in 2020 and to 1,875 lei in 2021. The minimum pension is calculated based on the minimum gross salary of each year. People who have contributed at least 15 years to the system receive 45% of the minimum gross salary and another 1% of the salary for every additional year of contribution. People who contributed between 10 to 15 years and who are already retired when the law comes into force get 40% of the minimum gross salary and 1% for every additional year of contribution. Although there has not been any vote against the new pension law, the opposition criticizes it, saying it is an electoral strategy.
Romania loses semifinal with Germany at EURO U21
On Thursday evening Romania lost the semifinal against Germany, 4-2, but remain one of the most outstanding teams at the European Under-21 Championship. Romania qualified for the semifinals having won what everyone agreed was the most difficult group, after two wins, against Croatia 4-1 and England 4-2, and a goalless draw against France, a result that allowed both sides to advance to the next stage. Romania may have lost the match against Germany, but they booked their ticket to the Olympic Games after 56 years, and have managed to coagulate a team with a promising future, a team that achieved a historic result by making it to the semifinals of a European championship in which they were on a par with the three sides that have won the recent editions of the Over-21 World Cup, namely Spain, Germany and France. (Translated by Elena Enache)