A review of the most important events of the week.
Tensions on the Romanian political stage
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has announced his decision to reject the interim ministers proposed for the ministries of Energy, Environment and the Relation with Parliament, by the Social Democrat PM Viorica Dancila, after the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) left the government. Iohannis has asked PM Dancila, after ALDE broke the ruling coalition, to have her cabinet reconfirmed by Parliament. The announcement has come shortly after the Government notified the Constitutional Court over a conflict of a legal nature with the head of state. According to Dancila, by delaying the endorsement of interim minister, Iohannis is disregarding the Constitutional Court’s decisions regarding the principle of cooperation and collaboration between state institutions. This unjustified refusal blocks the Government’s activity, the PM has said. In turn, President Iohannis argues that the Social Democrats’ statement that they are not allowed to govern is ridiculous, given that they have changed 3 governments and 80 ministers in two and a half years. The solution is not to extend the crisis by appointing interim ministers, but to solve the situation as soon as possible, in Parliament, Iohannis has said. The opposition plans to table a motion in Parliament, against the Dancila cabinet. The Liberals have announced they are negotiating with other parliamentary parties to make sure they do not miss the opportunity to oust the Social Democrats, especially after the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, the Social Democrats’ junior partners, left the Governing coalition. Liberal leader, Ludovic Orban, says the text of the motion has already been distributed to their partners for improvement.
Public pensions go up
As of September 1, the value of the pension point, against which pension benefits are calculated in Romania, was raised by 15%. Five million pensioners benefit from the increase. The new law stipulates a gradual increase of the pension point value between 2019 and 2022, as well as the updating of millions of pension benefits paid at present.
The new act also provides for including Ph.D. and M.A. programmes in calculating length of service, and the possibility to “buy” a maximum of 5 years of service. Minimum pensions will only be paid to people who have contributed to the public pension fund for at least 15 years. Under the new law, the minimum guaranteed pension goes up from 640 to 704 lei.
With an exchange rate of around 4.7 lei for the euro, Romanian pensioners remain some of the poorest in Europe, observers note, adding that over the past few years the steady rise in consumer prices has affected spending power substantially. PM Viorica Dancila, promised that the government has all the funds required to cover the measures taken by her Cabinet. She says the pension increase is an act of justice, and that never will a Social Democratic government measure pensioners’ incomes against macroeconomic indicators.
Two Romanians were killed in Afghanistan
A Romanian soldier was killed on Thursday in Kabul, in a terrorist attack claimed by the Taliban. Another 10 people were killed and over 40 were wounded in the attack. This is the second Romanian killed this week in Afghanistan, where Romania has dispatched over 760 military as part of the NATO’s Resolute Support mission. On Monday night, a member of Bucharest's diplomatic mission in Kabul was killed in an attack that left many dead and more than 100 wounded. Another Romanian was wounded, being later transferred to Europe for medical assistance.
The attack targeted a residential area where many foreign citizens were working and where a number of international organizations and Romania's embassy were located. The building hosting the embassy was severely damaged, its staff being for the time being hosted by a NATO military base. In Bucharest, president Klaus Iohannis and Prime Minister Viorica Dancila have sent their condolences in the aftermath of the two attacks and have reiterated Romania's support for the fight against terrorism.
Romania, defeated by Spain in a match counting towards the 2020 European Championship preliminaries
Romania's national football team on Thursday lost 1-2 to Spain on home turf in a match counting towards the 2020 European Championship preliminaries. In the other Group F fixtures, Norway defeated Malta 2-nil, while Sweden trounced the Faeroe Islands 4-nil away from home. Spain ranks first with 15 points, followed by Sweden with 10 points, Norway with 8 points, Romania with 7 points, Malta with 3 points and the Faeroe Islands with zero points. Romania will next play Malta on Sunday, September 8, in Ploiesti.
(Translated by Elena Enache)