European Committee for the Prevention of Torture voices concern with conditions in Romanian prisons
DETENTION The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has voiced concern with what it called the abuse and improper conditions still to be found in Romanian detention centres. In a release made public today following a visit to 10 detention facilities this February, CPT members point to cases of physical ill-treatment by prison personnel and police on detainees as well as violence among detainees. They urge the Interior Ministry and the Romanian Police Inspectorate General to send a clear message that ill-treatment of detained individuals is illegal, unprofessional and will be punished accordingly. The CPT appreciates the efforts made since 2014 to reform the penitentiary system in Romania, particularly in terms of the development of the parole service, a 30% reduction of prison population and the introduction of compensations for those detained in overcrowded prisons.
EPPO The first round of negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council of the EU on the appointment of the new European chief prosecutor is scheduled for tomorrow. Romania’s former anti-corruption chief Laura Codruţa Kövesi is one of the candidates for this post. In case the negotiation teams fail to reach an agreement tomorrow, further rounds will be held on March 27, April 4 and 10. The head of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani has recently sent the Romanian minister delegate for European Affairs George Ciamba, the incumbent chairman of the Council of the EU, the official letter announcing Laura Codruţa Kövesi as the European Parliament’s candidate for the chief of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. The Council of the EU on the other hand supports Jean-Francois Bohnert, of France. The EPPO, set to be up and running by end-2020, will be an independent body in charge of investigating and prosecuting crimes against the EU budget. The European chief prosecutor has a non-renewable 7-year term in office.
SOCIAL EU-wide expenditure for social protection amounted to 2,890 billion euro in 2017, accounting for 18.8% of the GDP and for 41.1% of the total government spending, the European statistics bureau Eurostat announced today. Pension benefits accounted for 10% of the Union’s GDP. Social protection spending was below 13% of GDP in Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Latvia, Romania, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, whereas 6 member states—Finland, France, Denmark, Italy, Austria and Sweden—allotted at least 20% of their GDP to this area.
BREXIT The EU ministers for European affairs convene in Brussels today to prepare the European spring summit. They will also discuss the latest developments in the Brexit case, given that March 29 is the end of the 2-year period since the UK notified its intention to leave the Union. European leaders expect London to state clearly its intentions for the future, and many of them want the European bloc to deny a new extension of the deadline. Until a new vote in the British Parliament on the withdrawal deal, which London has already rejected twice, the EU ministers will analyse the political and judicial consequences of a Brexit deferral. Meanwhile, the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, had meetings with key EU leaders, including the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron.
AWARDS Odeon Theatre in Bucharest hosted last night the 19th edition of the Radio Romania Culture Awards Gala. The event rewarded the most important achievements in Romanian culture last year. Recipients included writer Gabriela Adameşteanu, stage director Radu Afrim, and screenplay writer Ivana Mladenović. “Teach for Romania” Association won the section on education, for projects conducted in schools in underprivileged communities. A lifetime achievement award also went to pianist Valentin Gheorghiu.
VOLLEYBALL The Romanian women’s volleyball team CSM Alba Blaj is playing at home today against the Italian side Yamamay e-work Busto Arsizio, in the first leg of the CEV Cup finals. The second leg is scheduled next week in Italy. In the semis the Romanians beat their co-nationals of Ştiinţa Bacău (3-nil in both legs), and the Italians outplayed the Hungarian team Swietelsky Bekescsaba. Last year, Alba lost the Champions League finals to the Turkish side VakifBank Istanbul.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)