Romania is among the EU countries with the most advanced COVID-19 vaccination campaigns
Romania is still among the EU countries with the most advanced COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, according to immunization coordinator, Dr. Valeriu Gheorghita. He said that benefits are starting to show, barely two months from the beginning of the campaign. According to official data, almost 90% of eligible medical personnel has been inoculated with both doses, and over 98% with the first. The campaign is in its second stage, which covers people over 65, people with chronic conditions, and employees in essential areas. Most of the doses were from Pfizer and BioNTech, with vaccines from Moderna and AstraZeneca also available. According to the National Committee for the Coordination of Activities for Vaccination Against COVID-19, since the beginning of the campaign in Romania, on December 27, over 1.3 million doses have been administrated. Starting in the middle of next month, the pace of vaccination will increase considerably, and 200 more centers will become functional.
The Romanian Parliament eliminates special pensions for MPs
The Parliament in Bucharest on Wednesday passed with a wide majority a bill that eliminates special pensions for senators and deputies, six years after being introduced by the Social Democrats. The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Liberal Ludovic Orban, said that this move is only a first step. He said that the entire body of law in this area has to be tackled, in order to bring it as close as possible to the principle of contributions. 800 former MPs have the benefit of these special pensions. This means upwards of 10 million Euro annually from the state budget. Ludovic Orban claims that the law was 'perfectly constitutional', and cannot be challenged in Constitutional Court.
The government in Bucharest dismantles the controversial Section for Investigating Crime in Justice
The Romanian executive on Thursday passed a bill to dismantle the controversial Section for Investigating Crime in Justice, in spite of the negative opinion issued last week by the Higher Council of Magistrates. The recommendations issued by European and international institutions were among the first arguments in favor of the measure submitted by Justice Minister Stelian Ion. He recalled the controversies created by the decision made by this special section, and by the results of their activities, which he deemed shameful. The deputy PM Dan Barna, of the USR-PLUS coalition, said that the decision made by the government was 'a step away from the toxic inheritance we have from the Social Democratic governance and Liviu Dragnea, and an initial step towards fixing the laws of justice. Romania is in a process of regaining its credibility, and of regaining dignity in its justice system.' In a posting online, former Social Democrat minister of justice Robert Cazanciuc said that this special section is the only structure in the prosecutorial system where politics has no role, with the procedure of selecting prosecutors being the purview of the Higher Council of Magistrates, the guarantor of justice.
Trade union protests continue
Trade union protests continue this week in Bucharest and all over the country. The government building in the capital was picketed first by police employees, as well as public servants in public administration, social services, and finances. The were followed by employees of other branches of the economy. The protests were also held in the front of the headquarters of ruling coalition parties, the National Liberal Party and the USR-PLUS. People are angry at the budget bill for this year, which they deem an austerity budget, and which they believe would prolong the economic crisis generated by the pandemic. More protests came from employees and employers in the hospitality industry. Last but not least, railroad employees have also protested in favor of the application of the railroad statute, a law that would increase their wages and increase investments in modernizing rail transportation. Here is the general secretary of Cartel Alfa, Petru Dandea:
'Romania is in an economic crisis. This means one doesn't take austerity measures on top of it, because all you do is worsen the situation. It seems that the government cannot grasp this. With this protest, we want to draw the attention of ministers and the government precisely for them to come up with development policies, because in the present crisis context, they are lacking.'
In turn, the representatives of the Sanitary Solidarity Federation protested in the street for increasing the budget allocation for healthcare, with respect for legal rights and protection measures for healthcare workers.
The National Constantin Brancusi Day observed
Constantin Brancusi is Romania's unique ambassador to the world, which he continues to represent with honor, even after passing into eternity, said Minister of Culture Bogdan Gheorghiu in a message sent on the occasion of National Constantin Brancusi Day. A series of events dedicated to this day, which Romania celebrates each year on February 19, are being held around the country 145 years since the birth of the sculptor. The Romanian Cultural Institute organizes events dedicated to him in Bucharest, Brussels, Chisinau, Lisbon, London, Madrid, and Paris. Brancusi is considered a landmark of sculpture in the 20th century, with his abstract creations inspired by traditional Romanian motifs.