BUDGET - Romanian President Klaus Iohannis announced on Wednesday that he would send the 2019 budget bill back to Parliament. Previously, the President had challenged the bill in the Constitutional Court which ruled that the legislation in question is constitutional. Iohannis has refused to comment on the Court’s decision and has said that the 2019 budget is one of ‘national shame’, based on fake figures. Iohannis has pointed out that the budget presented by the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the main party of the government coalition, is designed to serve mostly the political interests of a small group. His opinion is shared by the right of center opposition, who agree to the bill being resent to Parliament and who say that only a realistic budget can save economy and help regain investors’ trust. In turn, the Social Democrats have announced they will send for promulgation the same version of the bill adopted initially by Parliament, as it ensures the necessary resources for all important economic sectors. PSD accuses President Iohannis of telling lies when he criticizes the budget bill, which they say gives the healthcare system the biggest amounts this sector has ever got.
MOTION - The vote on the simple motion filed by the right of center opposition, made up of the National Liberal Party and Save Romania Union, will be rescheduled after Wednesday’s plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies was suspended due to a lack of quorum. Social Democratic MPs have decided not to participate because, they say, the no-confidence motion includes untrue things, while the party leader Liviu Dragnea has explained that Toader’s situation will be discussed in the ruling coalition given that there is a state of discontent as far as he is concerned, which needs to be addressed with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), the junior partner in the ruling coalition. An independent supported by ALDE, Toader has also come under criticism from the Social Democrats, the main force in government, as well as from the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania, who support the government in Parliament. The Liberals, however, say that through the lack of quorum the ruling coalition puts pressure on Minister Toader to promote the legislative changes that the power wants. Even if the motion passes, only Prime Minister Viorica Dancila can decide if minister Toader is dismissed.
EUROSTAT - In 2017, around 825,000 persons acquired citizenship of a Member State of the European Union (EU), down from 995,000 in 2016 and 841,000 in 2015, Eurostat has announced. Of the total number of persons obtaining the citizenship of one of the EU Member States in 2017, 17% were former citizens of another EU Member State, while the majority were non-EU citizens or stateless. Romanians (25,000 persons), Poles (22,000) and Britons (15,000) were the three largest groups of EU citizens acquiring citizenship of another EU Member State. Half of the Member States granted citizenship to more people in 2017 than they did in 2016. The largest relative increases were recorded in Romania (from 4,527 persons in 2016 to 6,804 persons in 2017. The naturalization rate is the ratio of the number of persons who acquired the citizenship of a country during a year over the stock of foreign residents in the same country at the beginning of the year. In 2017, the highest naturalisation rates were registered in Sweden (8.2 citizenships granted per 100 resident foreigners), Romania (5.9) and Finland (5.0), followed by Portugal (4.5), Greece (4.2) and Cyprus (3.9).
EXERCISE - Two Romanian war ships are taking part this week in manoeuvres at sea together with two Turkish military vessels as part of the Mavi Vatan exercise conducted by the Turkish Navy in the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea, the chief of staff of the Romanian Navy has said. The two ships will carry out exercises in the Romanian territorial and international waters aimed at deterring asymmetric threats. The activity forms part of the provisions of the strategic partnership signed by Turkey and Romania in 2011. The bilateral training activities in which Romanian Navy military are also involved are included in a set of measures to discourage threats and risks to the security of NATO states, measures adopted at the NATO summit held in Brussels last year.
TALKS - The Romanian prime minister Viorica Dancila is in Brussels for talks with representatives of EU institutions. On Wednesday she met the first vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans to discuss the recent changes to the justice legislation in Romania. She will also have talks with the Commission's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier ahead of the UK's scheduled date for leaving the European Union, March 29th. Talks will focus on the protection of the rights of EU citizens. Dancila is also expected to attend two events on equality of chances and the promotion of women's rights. This year's edition of the Women's European Council is held in partnership with Romania's presidency of the Council of the EU and the European Parliament and looks at ways to improve women's representation in politics and in leadership positions.
(Translated by Elena Enache)