JUSTICE - Romania’s President, Klaus Iohannis, on Thursday signed the decree under which he promulgated the controversial law on the functioning of the Superior Council of Magistracy. The president has however reiterated that he does not support the changes brought to the bill, which alongside the Law on the judicial organisation, promulgated in July and the one on the status of magistrates, is part of a package called the Justice Laws. The president claims the changes brought to the existing legal framework in the field of justice is a downfall for democracy in Romania. The president requests that the three laws be re-analysed. We recall that the Justice Laws, in the form proposed and adopted by the ruling majority made up of the Social Democratic Party-the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats have been criticised by civil society, also through large protests, and by the Opposition, and have made the subject of significant reproaches by the European institutions. This week, the First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, has said in the European Parliament during a debate on the rule of law in Romania, that the country has taken steps backwards in the reform of the judiciary and the fight against corruption, also through the changes brought to the Justice Laws.
CORRUPTION - The Romanian police have confirmed that the former tourism minister Elena Udrea and the former head of the Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), Alina Bica, have been detained in Costa Rica, following intelligence sent from Bucharest. According to judicial sources, the two are to be heard in court. They have applied for asylum in Costa Rica, and that is why judges might postpone a decision regarding their extradition. Udrea and Bica were under investigation, surveillance and monitoring by the Costa Rican authorities, as they were wanted internationally by Interpol, following the sentences they had received in Romania for corruption. For a long time seen as the most influential character in the former president Traian Basescu’s entourage, Udrea received from the High Court of Cassation and Justice a final 6-year prison sentence for bribe taking and abuse of office. The same court sentenced Bica to 4 years in prison, in a case in which she was accused of aiding and abetting a criminal.
NATO- Bucharest will pay special heed to strengthening transatlantic relations, during the Romanian presidency of the EU Council, in the first half of 2019, defence minister Mihai Fifor has said in Brussels. Attending the NATO defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels, minister Fifor has drawn attention to the importance of fighting hybrid and cyber attacks and underlined the importance of military mobility, a domain in which Romania supports the idea of adopting common NATO-EU standards. On Wednesday, the first day of the meeting, the participants analysed the stage of implementation of the decisions made by the allies at the July summit in Poland and assessed NATO’s relation with Georgia.
REFERENDUM - The campaign for the referendum on redefining family in the Romanian Constitution, due on October 6-7 ends on Friday, 7 a.m. local time. Romanian citizens are called to the polls to say whether they agree to see the definition in the Constitution, which currently reads ‘the consented marriage between spouses’, changed into ‘the consented marriage between a man and a woman’, the definition proposed by Parliament. The initiative to change the phrasing in the Constitution came from the Coalition for Family, which comprises several Christian organizations. The coalition gathered 3 million signatures to support their initiative. The referendum has been criticized by associations that protect the rights of sexual minorities. For the referendum to be valid, at least 30% of the voters registered on electoral lists must take part, and 25% of the votes must be valid.
CYBERCRIME - The Romanian Foreign Ministry expresses its solidarity with Great Britain, following London’s denouncement of hostile cyber actions. ‘Romania, in its capacity as EU and NATO member state, situated in the proximity of regions marked by instability, is facing such challenges too’ reads a communiqué issued by the ministry. Bucharest has reconfirmed its commitment to supporting the fight against cyber attacks and has voiced interest in cooperating with Great Britain and the other allies in implementing firm and concrete measures aimed at preventing and curbing such phenomena. Previously, the British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had accused the Russian military intelligence services (GRU) of perpetrating cyber attacks against companies and institutions across the world. Hunt has also announced that Great Britain and its allies will discuss about imposing new sanctions on Russia.
MONETARY POLICY - The Romanian Central Bank has decided to maintain the monetary policy interest rate at 2.5% per year, and the one for bank deposits at 1.5%. The interest rate for loans will stand at 3.5%. These interest rates are used in the relations between commercial banks and the Central Bank. The values of the current rates for minimum reserve requirements applicable to liabilities in RON and in hard currencies have also been maintained. (Translated by M. Ignatescu and D. Vijeu)