One more month under a state of alert
Starting on Monday, July 12, the state of alert in Romania has been prolonged by 30 days. It was instituted first in May 2020, after two months of a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 crisis. The decision by the government includes some modifications, according to the head of the Department for Emergency Situations, Raed Arafat. Among them is the possibility of having 1,000 people attending events outdoors, and reducing from four to two square meters the space for attendants of weddings or baptisms. At the same time, the certificate for being cured of COVID is valid 180 days, compared to 90 before. At the same time, people who accompany children to playgrounds no longer have to be vaccinated.
The Romanian economy is slated to grow by 7.4% in 2021, and by 4.9% in 2022. The estimate in May was 5.1% this year, and 4.9% next year, according to a preliminary summer prognosis, published on Wednesday by the EC. Romania's GDP has grown quarterly by 2.8%, supported by private consumption and investments. At the same time, net exports were significantly negative, reflecting low foreign demand and disruptions in the supply chain, the EC also says. Private consumption is also expected to grow, once restrictions are lifted, especially in sectors affected severely by the pandemic, such as in show business, entertainment, restaurants, and hotels. Rising salaries in the first months of the year will grow the economy, the EC also expects.
Installed last year in December, the PNL-USR/PLUS-UDMR coalition government is one minister less, after Liberal PM Florin Citu dismissed on Thursday Finance Minister Alexandru Nazare, also a Liberal. On Thursday Citu took over as interim minister for finance, a position he also held in the former Liberal cabinet. After a semester analysis, the PM claims, several projects for attracting European funding and fighting tax evasion were delayed by the ministry. Nazare denied the accusations, and accused Citu of ousting him because the former did not support the latter when seeking party chairmanship. The present Liberal leader, Ludovic Orban, said that the PM did not have his and the party's support in ousting Nazare, and that the latter did a proper job. Orban and Citu are vying for Liberal Party chairmanship in September, at the party congress. The war between the two, more and more visible, is only a collateral event in a government coalition marred by major tensions, growing more and more dysfunctional. Its leaders have not agreed on calling for an extraordinary session of Parliament, aimed at dismantling the Section for Investigation Crime in Justice, invented by the former left wing power bloc, which analysts say was meant to intimidate magistrates.
Education under reform in Romania
President Klaus Iohannis said that, next week, the government will commit to the Educated Romania project by memorandum, which was launched in 2016 for public debate, and which still has no effect on Romanian education. He said that, after recent talks, the coalition government supported the project, and is about to have a clear action plan, with implementation targets. The reforms are supposed to be financed by the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience, the state budget, as well as European funds. The Educated Romania project has financing amounting to a historic 4 billion Euro, the president said. The targets would be decentralizing education, better teachers, new standards for infrastructure and materiel, and increasing access to education.
The Three Seas Initiative
The head of the Romanian state, Klaus Iohannis, took part this week to the sixth summit of the Three Seas Initiative, which gathers 12 EU member states on the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black Sea. On the agenda of the meeting in Sofia, meant to establish goals for development, was evaluating progress, with an emphasis on connection strategic projects, established at the summit in Bucharest, and the functioning of the investment fund of the organization, in which Romania and Poland are founding states. The head of the Romanian state insisted on applying priority strategic projects for connection, with an emphasis on Rail2Sea and Via Carpathia, of growing interest for Romania. From Bucharest's perspective, these project are essential for long term development, allowing long term economic resilience, including in terms of post-pandemic economic recovery.
Euro and the Olympics
The finals of the European soccer championship is played on Sunday in London, pitting England against Italy. Bucharest has been host to four games in the final tournament, three in the group stage, and one in the eighth finals. After a disappointing run, the Romanian national team failed to qualify for the championship. However, the Under-23 Romanian team qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Romania stands in the B Group, and will play Honduras on July 22, South Korea on the 25th, and New Zealand on the 28th. The Romanian footballers qualified for the Olympics after reaching the Under-21 European Championships in 2019. Romania has not played in the Olympics in football since 1964.