The May 26 referendum
The Romanian Parliament, convened in joint session on Wednesday, approved President Klaus Iohannis’s request to hold a referendum on May 26, at the same time with the European Parliament elections. The point of the referendum is to ban amnesty and pardon for corruption offences and to prevent the government from passing emergency decrees related to criminal offences, convictions and judicial organisation. The head of state also wants to know the voters’ opinion as regards allowing public authorities, other than the Ombudsman, to notify the Constitutional Court directly, about emergency decrees. The President’s move comes against the background of numerous legislative changes in the field of the judiciary, contested at home and criticised by Romania’s European partners.
Reshuffling of Dancila’s cabinet
Prime Minister Viorica Dancila sent president Klaus Iohannis proposals for the appointment of new ministers for the Ministry of European Funds, the Ministry for the Romanians Abroad and the Justice Ministry. The previous holders of these positions have resigned – Rovana Plumb and Natalia Intorero in order to run for the European elections, and Tudorel Toader after the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the main party in the ruling coalition, withdrew its political support and the PM asked for his resignation. Toader was left without the Social Democrats’ support for having delayed the adoption of some controversial emergency decrees modifying criminal codes. President Klaus Iohannis will announce early next week his decision about the appointment of the new ministers, but he has pointed out that, in his opinion, the new government reshuffle is aimed at strengthening what he calls “the PSD siege on justice”. Romania must urgently get back on the track of reforms and continue the battle against corruption, European Commissioner for Justice, Vera Jurova, said at a European Parliament debate on the rule of law in Romania.
Report on the first 100 days of Romania’s presidency of the Council of the EU
During the first three months of Romania’s presidency of the Council of the EU, 90 difficult legislative dossiers have been closed, with Bucharest having coordinated over 1,100 events and meetings in the last three months, the Romanian PM Viorica Dancila said. Speaking about some of the dossiers finalised recently, Dancila welcomed the Council’s formal adoption, as a final stage of the legislative procedure, of rules for the natural gas market, copyright and contracts for the sale of goods and the provision of online digital content. Bucharest has also been actively involved in the Brexit negotiations, Dancila went on to say. She also spoke about the importance of the elections for the European Parliament, held in Romania on the 26th of May, and pointed out that Romania has worked towards creating an environment in which free and fair elections can be held. Clearer rules were established for the protection of personal data, including penalties for the use thereof to manipulate the running and the outcome of the elections.
Conference on security challenges on the eastern flank of NATO
A conference on security challenges on the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance, organised in Bucharest, has once again highlighted the need to strengthen NATO’s capacity in the Baltic and Black Sea areas. Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis has pleaded for a unitary, consolidated and coherent allied presence along the entire eastern flank. The president has stated that the Black Sea area is still marked by frozen conflicts and dormant tensions, and that is reason enough for such a presence, which is needed to ensure an effective defence and deterrence posture. At the conference, the US and Germany hailed the way in which Bucharest fulfils its commitments within NATO.
The Romania-France Cultural Season
The 2019 Romania-France Cultural Season has opened this week in Bucharest. Meetings, exhibitions, festivals and concerts will be held as part of this event in the capital Bucharest and many other cities across Romania. The French Ambassador in Bucharest, Michele Ramis, has mentioned that this is the first time her country organises the Season jointly with another EU country, which clearly reflects the nature of the Romanian-French relationship. In turn, the Romanian Culture Minister, Daniel Breaz, has evoked aspects related to the cultural connection between the two countries, and pointed out that for generations France has been a model, mirror and trustworthy friend of Romanians. The first part of the Cultural Season was held in 100 cities in France over the course of 5 months, and enjoyed great success, with the French people rediscovering Romania and its artists. The event is meant to consolidate economic, scientific, cultural and social ties between the two countries.
(translated by: Elena Enache)