EP ELECTIONS - In Romania, the campaign for the European elections due on May 26 continues. As many as 13 political parties are part of it. The candidates running in the elections are former ministers or experienced MEPs, former prime ministers or mayors, popular journalists and even an ex-president. The Romanians living abroad can cast their votes at 114 polling stations, most of them in Italy, Spain and the Republic of Moldova. A referendum on justice called by President Klaus Iohannis takes place at the same time with the European elections. The head of state pointed out on Wednesday that Romanians must not be afraid to vote for their European Parliament representatives and in the referendum, and once again urged them to come to polling stations on May 26.
BLACK SEA Funds and financing systems for the “blue economy,” investments in ecoports and smart connectivity for transport systems were among the topics approached on the first day of the Black Sea Investment Forum, hosted on May 22 and 23 by the Black Sea coast city of Constanta and organized by the Romanian Transport Ministry and the European Commission. Over 200 participants are looking at the future of regional transport businesses. The event is designed to support and encourage investments and the improvement of the EU business environment by removing barriers to investment and promoting sustainable funding. The Forum aims at facilitating connections between entrepreneurs and top-level authorities in the region, as well as between institutions or companies from EU member states and European and international financial institutions.
OECD 42 members and partners of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) adopted in Paris on May 22 the Principles on Artificial Intelligence. The 36 OECD members and 6 partner countries, including Romania and 5 south-American countries, committed to comply with international standards promoting artificial intelligence (AI) that is innovative and trustworthy and that respects human rights and democratic values. The topic of the OECD Council Meeting held this week in Paris is “The digital revolution in service of sustainable development: opportunities and challenges". Taking part are the foreign, finance and economy ministers of the 36 member countries. Romania, which is not a member, takes part as a guest country and is represented by the Communications Minister Alexandru Petrescu. He said in Paris that Romania is currently drawing up its first national AI strategy, which will be posted for public debate by the end of the year.
POPE – Online applications for attendance at the religious services held by Pope Francis in Romania will continue until May 31. Hundreds of thousands of people have already registered. Besides Romanians, Christians from neighboring countries such as Hungary, Serbia and Ukraine, but also from far away countries like Pakistan, Rwanda, South Africa, Australia and Israel, will come to Romania for the Pope’s visit. Pope Francis makes a three-day apostolic visit to Romania from the 31st of May to the 2nd of June following an invitation from President Klaus Iohannis and the Catholic Church in Romania. The motto of the visit is “Let’s walk together”. The Pontiff will travel to the capital Bucharest, Iasi, the biggest city in the east of the country and home to a sizeable Roman-Catholic community, Blaj, in the centre, the spiritual capital of the Romanian Greek-Catholics and the Marian shrine in Sumuleu Ciuc, in the centre, in an area with a majority ethnic Hungarian population.
CULTURE The Romanian Culture Minister, Valer-Daniel Breaz, will chair on Thursday in Brussels the Culture and Audio-Visual section of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council, which is scheduled to adopt 2 sets of political guidelines on supporting youth creativity and European co-productions. The Council will also discuss new prospective measures to fight disinformation and to regain the confidence of European citizens in the mass media. On Wednesday night, the Romanian official and the European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics announced the winners of the EU Prize for Literature.
BREXIT - The British government approved PM Theresa May’s plan on Brexit, including the compromise measures that are to be included in the law that is to be voted on early next month. The draft law includes the idea of a temporary customs union until future general elections are held as well as measures to guarantee EU workers’ rights and to protect the environment. The passing of the Brexit law by the House of Commons is an almost impossible mission for the government, even though the measures proposed might persuade some of the Labour MPs to vote for it, newspapers write.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)