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March 13-17 2023
Strategic partnership between Romania and Bulgaria
Romania and Bulgaria will continue their joint efforts towards the adoption this year of the decision to join the Schengen space. This announcement was made by President Klaus Iohannis in Sofia, where he was received by his counterpart, Rumen Radev. The two heads of state signed a strategic partnership declaration. Among other things, it provides for enhanced bilateral political dialog, it encourages cross-border cooperation, as well as energy security. As for Schengen, Klaus Iohannis reiterated that the two countries are ready to join, and that expansion is not linked with illegal migration on the outer borders of the EU. Here is President Iohannis:
“The Schengen space refers to the right of citizens to circulate freely within EU states. Illegal migration is a completely different thing. It refers to people who cross illegally into the EU and try to go into other countries. For political reasons, these two issues are mixed up by some European politicians. This is an error, but we understand the difficulties faced by some European states in the problem of illegal migration. We are willing to participate in all the programs that aim to solve these problems.”
The Bulgarian president reaffirmed that Romania and Bulgaria will make additional efforts for a speedy joining of the Schengen space. He showed that, over the few months, the two countries fought against illegal migration, which has gone up considerably. We recall that, in December 2022, in the Council for Justice and Internal Affairs, Austria and The Netherlands blocked Romania and Bulgaria's access to the free circulation space. Austria invoked illegal migration on the Balkan route. Romania rejected these accusations, which was endorsed by European institutions.
The transition to a green society
The government in Bucharest approved an emergency ordinance which is meant to bring the country into compliance with requirements by the EC for Romania to receive the second tranche of the PNRR, worth 3.2 billion Euro. One of the provisions of the document stipulates that real estate developers have to install charging stations for EVs in new buildings. The same obligation applies to the owners of old buildings, in case of major refurbishment. Another provision in the ordinance refers to shutting down the coal based energy producers in Turceni and Rovinari, suspending their activity for 3 years. The government adopted another normative act that institutes a financial aid plan worth 26 million Euro for SMEs and large companies that plan to build installations for waste recycling. According to PM Nicolae Ciuca, the projects financed by the mechanism are aimed at protecting the environment. At the same time, the Chamber of Deputies in Bucharest passed the support agreement between the Romanian state and the Nuclearelectrica National Administration for building units 3 and 4 of the nuclear electrical plant in Cernavoda. By implementing the project, the contribution of nuclear plant produced electricity to the national grid would be 36%, while the percentage contributed to the total of green electricity would be 66%.
Last month, the annual rate of inflation in Romania went up slightly from January, reaching 15.52% as opposed to 15.07%, according to the latest data from the National Institute of Statistics. According to experts, this should not alter the National Bank prognosis according to which inflation would go down to single digits by the end of the year. Here is financial analyst Adrian Codirlasu:
“The deflationary process continues, but it will not be a smooth process, with month by month decrease of inflation, with such episodes appearing, where inflation goes up slightly. The exact same situation was seen in other EU countries, with inflation in February going over that in January.”
According to the NIS, the prices that went up the most in February against January were foodstuffs, 3.4%, and services, with 2.5%. The highest rises in price over the last 12 months were sugar, by 63%, followed by butter, almost 45%, and gas, by around 42%. Rises in prices of over 30% were registered for potatoes, eggs, margarine, and dairy products. Adrian Vasilescu, adviser to the governor of the National Bank of Romania, explains:
“Why do food prices go up in the country? One, all over the world, food prices have gone up lately. In addition, we have the shock created by the import-export balance, because imports of foodstuffs are very high, and we have this year the highest deficit. That is the problem.”
Against the background of rising prices lately, employees in education have protested around the country, demanding higher wages and threatening with a general strike. Union leaders claim a lack of social dialog, and accuse government officials of bad faith.
Moldovan Parliament makes Romanian official language
The Romanian language will replace the Moldovan language by name in all laws in the Republic of Moldova, including the Constitution. The parliament in Chisinau voted this change in a second session. The bill applies a ruling made ten years ago by the Constitutional Court, according to which Romanian is the official language of the Republic of Moldova. According to Radio Chisinau, the vote was met with applause by the pro-European deputies in the PAS party, which introduced the bill and has the majority in Parliament. At the same time, pro-Russian Socialist and Communist deputies raised signs bearing messages critical of the present power. In Bucharest, the vote in the Moldovan Parliament was saluted by the political class.
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