NATO – NATO’s Deputy Secretary General, Mircea Geoana on Saturday confirmed on Facebook that his mandate in this position has been extended by the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg until October 2023. The Romanian took over this post in October 2019, being the first leader in Central and Eastern Europe to hold this position. By having his mandate extended, Geoana says, he can contribute to the negotiation, endorsement and implementation of a new Strategic Concept and of NATO’s 2030 agenda.
GOVERNMENT - PM designate Dacian Ciolos will present Parliament on Monday with a governing programme and a list of ministers from USR alone, after his failed attempt to rebuild the ruling coalition alongside PNL and UDMR. A final decision in this respect will be taken on Sunday by USR’s political committee, that will also decide the list of ministers to be proposed to Parliament for approval. USR should complete the governing programme today. According to the UDMR leader, Kelemen Hunor, the PM designate failed to reinstate a minimum level of trust, which would have allowed him to rebuild the coalition. We remind you that the consultations between the former ruling partners USR, PNL and UDMR, initially scheduled for Friday, and aimed at rebuilding the coalition were cancelled later on the day. According to Liberal sources, Florin Citu, leader of PNL and interim PM, discussed over the phone with Dacian Ciolos, PM designate and leader of USR, and told him that the meeting was pointless. The Liberals say that USR must negotiate with the opposition parties PSD and AUR, as together they had ousted the Citu government by no confidence vote. Dacian Ciolos says any dialogue with the Social Democrats is out of the question and he is ready to hold talks with the Liberals.
RATING – The reconfirmation of Romania’s rating as stable by Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s are proofs of the government’s sound economic measures, interim PM Florin Citu said Saturday in a new conference. On Friday, Standard and Poor’s rating agency reconfirmed its outlook on Romania as stable. Despite the heightened political uncertainty following the government’s recent dismissal on a no-confidence vote, we expect that the policy anchors in the recently approved Recovery and Resilience Plan and the ongoing Excessive Deficit Procedure will invoke sufficient fiscal discipline to overcome partisan wrangling and produce budgetary consolidation over the coming two years, S&P said in a press release on Friday evening. Also on Friday, Moody’s said it changed the outlook on Romania to stable from negative. The key elements that triggered the rating improvement are the solid perspectives for economic growth based on a dynamic private sector and the use of EU’s Next Generation programme funds as well as on the Excessive Deficit Procedure which acts like a key political anchor of the fiscal strategy.
CORONAVIRUS – At least 15,200 new Covid-19 infections were reported in Romania on Saturday, out of more than 69,000 tests. In the same interval 352 related deaths were reported and 1,739 patients in intensive care. The infection rate in 14 days is 16.1 cases per thousand inhabitants in the capital Bucharest. Only a month before, the infection rate was 1.93. No lockdown will be imposed in Bucharest’s metropolitan area but checks will be conducted into how restrictive measures are observed. Romania benefits European support in its fight against the pandemic. Under the EU’s civil protection mechanism, the Netherlands, Poland, Italy, and Denmark have already sent to Romania medicines and ventilators while Hungary has taken over 20 patients in critical conditions.
PROTESTS – Italy is the first European country where the Covid pass is compulsory at the workplace. Protests were staged in Italy on Friday at at this decision but no incidents were reported. The Green Pass shows whether you have had the Covid vaccine, recovered from it or had a negative test. Most Italians support the green pass being compulsory, in the context of a vaccination rate of more than 80% in the country, but employees of ports and road transport are against it. Employees in both the public and private sector, who do not comply with the new rule, risk having their salary suspended or even being fired, while employers who do not carry out checks can receive fines from 600 to 1,500 euros. In another development, the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said on Friday that they had submitted data supporting the use of their COVID-19 vaccine in children aged between five and less than 12 years to the European Medicines Agency, Reuters reports. Although the vaccine is currently not allowed for that age group, it has been authorized for use in children over 12 years of age in both the United States and the European Union. According to Reuters, the companies earlier this month asked U.S. regulators to also grant emergency use authorization of the shot for young children, and an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to meet next month to review the data.
LIST – In Bucharest, the National Committee for Emergencies updated on Friday the list of countries with high epidemiological risk, putting on the red list Ukraine and Gibraltar. Also, Albania, Botswana, Curacao and the United States Virgin Islands entered the yellow zone, following a decrease in Covid infections, a zone that also includes the Netherlands, Gabon and Montserrat. Switzerland, Canada, Jordan, Kazakhstan and Andorra are now in the green zone. (EE)